November 01, 2023

Peace Signs: The Troubled State of Russian Education

Peace Signs: The Troubled State of Russian Education

"War, denunciations, and school visits by Wagnerites deprived her job of its meaning, because teaching these days means conducting propaganda."

These words were posted on Twitter by the daughter of a teacher who quit her job at School No. 12 in the Siberian city of Perm last July. “After that, school became a living hell. She’s been crying almost every day, ashamed of her role in deceiving children. She wanted to keep teaching but was afraid of landing in prison and didn’t want to stop telling the truth about the war.”

Russia’s main educational innovation in 2022 was the institution of weekly lessons on patriotism, “Conversations on Important Topics” (See Russian Life, Winter 2023, p. 34). Teachers were given a list of topics, along with teaching guidelines and resources. For example, a unit devoted to “the memory of genocide against the Soviet people by Nazis and their accomplices” is described thus: “The lesson includes information about concentration camps for children created by the fascists in occupied areas of the Soviet Union. Photographs from the Great Patriotic War and contemporary Donbas are used as discussion prompts.” Meanwhile, the images provided of “concentration camps for children… in occupied areas of the Soviet Union” actually show a concentration camp in Poland and starving children in Greece in 1942. The Donbas images are of a school in Donetsk destroyed during the current war.

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