If you’ve read my main blog, you may know that I was once a Peace Corps Volunteer in the former Soviet Union. From 1995-97, I worked as a teacher at a school in the Republic of Armenia. The job itself was pretty tough for a lot of reasons. I think teaching is difficult, but trying to teach in Armenia was, for me, pretty chaotic. A lot of times, I didn’t even know which class I would be teaching. Sometimes my classes would be cancelled or reassigned and I would find out the day of. I did have some good students, though, who were well-behaved and smart.
Last night, while messing around on YouTube, I found this video that was listed as a “tribute” to Soviet style education…
What strikes me about this video is that all the kids are dressed the same. In Armenia, a lot of kids would come to school in black and white on the first day. Maybe a couple of them had red kerchiefs kind of like what they would have worn as Young Pioneers. After the first day of school, they dressed as they pleased.
The next thing that strikes me is how old this video looks. It was from 1981, when I would have been 8 or 9 years old. I know that was a long time ago, but it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago to me!
I appreciate the musical numbers. I used music a lot in my classes, though I don’t remember my pupils being this well-behaved or singing as well as the teachers and students in this video.
Finally, it just strikes me as weird that for the first 19 years old my life, the Soviet Union existed and seemed like such a huge threat to the United States. And then I actually lived in the former Soviet Union and realized that it was mostly a big facade.
I would not trade my time in the Peace Corps, even though parts of the experience sucked. My time as a PCV changed my life in positive ways. But this video is far removed from my experiences in the former Soviet Union. I can’t imagine that things changed that much from 1991 until 1995, when I started teaching kids English. I also learned through this experience that teaching is not my forte.
ETA… check out this bizarre relic from the Soviet era. The same guy in the above video is in the one.