How Russian Kids Are Taught World War II

A new history curriculum is raising concern among teachers.

From Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, Russian schoolchildren are preparing for the most important holiday of the year: Victory Day. Commemorated with a grand military parade on Moscow’s Red Square every May 9, the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany has long been used by authorities to rally support for the state. And it starts in school.

Russian students play a central role in the patriotic celebrations: popular Victory Day merchandise for children ranges from mini Red Army uniforms to toy guns. They also lead the Immortal Regiment, a march where participants carry portraits of relatives who fought and died in World War II. Entire classrooms are taken to the event.

Amid the euphoria surrounding the event, however, Russia’s history teachers are finding themselves under pressure to conform to the Kremlin’s interpretation of the war.

“Everything that is forced is bad,” says Alexander Abalov, a history teacher at a prominent Moscow school. Abalov is not the only history teacher worried about the state’s interference in his job.

Teaching history has never been easy in Russia, where archives are closed and transparent discussions about the country’s Soviet past are met with hostility. Even then, teaching World War II is more difficult: with every year that Putin is in power, Russia fails to confront its role in the war head on.

In August 2016—on the eve of the new school year—a new Education Minister, Olga Vasilyeva, took office. Vasilyeva is perceived as a supporter of the conservative Orthodox agenda. She has also defended Soviet policies and made controversial statements about Stalin.

While control over the classroom is supposed to be in the teacher’s hands, a new set of history textbooks introduced this year presents a view of the Soviet role in the war uncannily close to Vasilyeva’s—and the Kremlin’s.

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Source By https://themoscowtimes.com

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