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'A great excuse to sleep in' What Russians think about the Kremlin's new pro-war lesson series
When Russian students returned to school this week, many of them learned that Mondays are now going to look a little different from what they’re used to. First of all, each week will start with a flag-raising ceremony and the Russian national anthem. After that, the Education Ministry wants teachers to give lessons from the new government-designed curriculum package “Conversations About What’s Important.” The class is intended to teach students about topics “related to key aspects of life in modern Russia” — including the war in Ukraine.
In late August, Meduza published an overview of what the new patriotism lessons will entail. Now, to get an idea of how regular Russians are feeling about the changes, Meduza has compiled a list of reactions that students, parents, and teachers posted online.
What students are saying
First thing in the morning, we have “Conversations About What’s Important.” After that, we have all that unimportant crap — like math, physics, and Russian.
Every Monday at our school, they’re going to raise the flag and have “Conversations About What’s Important” in first period. A great excuse to sleep in.
I just learned about “Conversations About What’s Important” and the Monday assemblies. Sounds about right. I’m in the tenth grade, and there’s nothing for me to do except listen to someone tell me for the hundredth time about how fucking magnificant our country is and how all the others are nothing to write home about.
My sister goes, “We have a new class.”
I ask, “Conversations About What’s Important?”
Me: “And what did they teach you?”
Her: “I don’t know. Nobody was listening.”
“Conversations About What’s Important,” the national anthem, and the flag-waving [...] isn’t turning students into patriots — it’s turning them into stand-up comedians.
My version of “Conversations About What’s Important” would include first aid training, self-defense lessons for women, sex ed classes, sessions with a child psychologist, and those kinds of things. That would be a lot more useful than what we’re doing now.
In the future, I think “Conversations About Things That Matter” should be replaced with a sex ed class. They can call it “Conversations About Things That Splatter.”
What parents are saying
I asked my daughter, “Have you already started ‘Conversations About What’s Important?’” She said, “That class where they’re planning to brainwash us? Yeah, we had it today.”
“Lev, it sounds like you’re going to have a new class. ‘Conversations About What’s Important’ or something.”
“Yeah, I already read about it, Mom. I’m not going.”
“Alright. If they give you any grief, tell them to talk to me.”
Our new class, “Conversations About What's Important,” is a load of BS. But Mom said I can skip it! Hooray!
When I told my mom we’re going to have “Conversations About What’s Important” and that I was extremely unhappy about it, she said it’s a good thing, that they’re going to tell us the truth, and that otherwise I’ll just “fill my brain with those Ukro-Nazi Tiktoks.”
What teachers are saying
I never enter into conversations with my students about provocative topics like these, of course, unless I’m being extremely careful or my students are already grown and capable of critical thinking. But if — or, more likely, when — I teach this class, I certainly won’t follow any fascist curriculum guides. I think my options will be to either try to refuse to teach the class, to address the topics honestly and with decent messages, to talk about something else, or to leave the state school system altogether and get a job at a private school. But then again, if everybody leaves, what kind of cannibalistic monsters will be left to teach the kids? Who will they grow up to be? And what kind of future will that leave us?
They’re adding a new class called “Conversations About What’s Important." It starts in the second grade. I’m just beside myself. I don’t want to have to tell children about the “Russian world.”
Our new teacher said, “You probably heard that they’ve introduced a new class called “Conversations About What’s Important.” We decided it doesn’t make sense to have those lessons here. If there’s anything important, I’ll tell you during recess.
We made an agreement with our teacher: only half the class has to come to the “Conversations About What’s Important,” and we’ll just alternate each week. I like how even our teacher wants to scam the school administrators.
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