Garden City Telegram from Garden City, Kansas on July 17, 1963 · Page 9
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Garden City Telegram from Garden City, Kansas · Page 9

Garden City, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, July 17, 1963
Page 9
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Kansas Editor In Moscow £ I *| i? Thirst for Learning In Russia Is Great (Editor's Nate: Saline Jour. 1 nal fedlfor Whltley Austin last week returned from a trip Into Russia. He It a member of the Kansas Board of Regents and here It his report on Russian schools.) By WHITLEY AUSTIN Editor of The Salina Journal MOSCOW — "The younger generation needs to learn how to work.' 1 "Schooling should be practical without hi-faluling nonsense." These are sentiments one might expect from the banket- member of a small town school board in the mid-west. They were expressed to me in slightly more elegant terms by Kuznia Ivanovitch Ivanov, the assistant rector of the University of Moscow. The rectorship is largely an honorary position held by a not- rd physicist. The assistant rector is the actual administrator for this skyscraper university enrolling 32,000 students from all over the World. Mr. Ivanov — the title "Doctor" is rarely awarded and rarely used — received me in his llth floor office which surprisingly resembled in size and furnishing that of President James McCain at K-State. What changes are you making in higher education? My question was asked through my In- tourist interprolei. In substance Ivanov's answer was: The university is making the program of studies one of practical application Theory and practice are intertwined. Students do in the factories what they learn in the classroom and laboratories. This is part of their educulion As a matter of fact, Mr. Ivanov continued through the interpreter, we wish that students would work for two years before they enter the university. We •believe this makes them better students and improves their motivation. the assistant rector we. t on to explain that the usual course of study hi each of the 12 faculties or colleges of the university requires five or six years. The curriculum is rigidly prescribed and few electives are possible. Grading is highly competitive. At the conclusion, the candidate for certificate — no degrees are awarded — must • defend successfully a thesis on some pertinent subject. Post graduate work consists largely of assisting a professor in a research project. Only the best'of the graduates are chosen for such an honor. The obvious emphasis is on the so-called scientific disciplines. The faculty of the humanities, for example, is housed in older buildings which it seemed "inconvenient"' to visit. Teaching tools are the libraries, which are extensive and comprehensive, the laboratories which were "inconvenient" for me to see, and museums which Mr. Ivanov insisted I inspect. But is not this a narrow education? I asked. What about broadly cultural subjects that not only help the student to develop his understanding of! the world, to tell the true from the false, but also enable him to make independent conclusions? Mr. Ivanov smiled at my bourgeois concern for the free man and mentioned the Soviet cosmonauts, upon whose feats I already had congratulated him. Then he explained that students have ample opportunity for cultural pursuits through circles or clubs which the University encourages. Each college, for example, has its own theatrical circle which writes and produces plays in competition. There are circleg for hobboes and of course vacation time comes only once a year, You and your family deserve to enjoy yourself without t care in the world. Meet the co»f with cash In hand from friendly B • I • C. Stop in or phone for the money you need. Right away!. IMKD circles for sports which arc strongly s u p p o r t ed. College games are highly competitive but untouched by professionalism, I gathered. The university's intense spirit of competition was Illustrated for me by the story of my interpreter, Anna Samsonova, a brilliant woman and fluent in English. Upon completing her 10-year primary and secondary schooling, Anna told me, she had wished to study biology at the university. But there were five candidates for the single position open and although her mark on the entrance examination was high, one of the others surpassed her. So Anna had to be content with spending five years, after another entrance examination, in a technical institute so that she might become an interpreter. Her course there was an intensive one not only in t!i3 English language but also in English history and literature, together with much library reading, Judging by her knowledge, in the United States Anna would have earned at least a master's degree, Although the furnishings of the university lecture and seminar rooms are somewhat shabby and old-fashioned, the visual aids and demonstration facilities are approximately equal to ours. Museums are a popular teaching aid. The one I inspected covered the various regions of the Soviet Union. For each region were displays, charts, photographs, maps and specimens ingeniously grouped together to show not only physical features, the flora and fauna, but also the economic use of them. Education at the university is free and state subsidies are available for those students who cannot afford the quite moderate charges for board and room. Dormitories consist of small cubicles each containing .a narrow bed, chest, bookcase, desk and chair. There is a washstand and showerbaUi for every two cubiles but the toilet is down the way. Unlike the practices In Swedish university dormitories, the sexes arc segregated by floors. "W e tried the other - way" Anna explained, "but it did not provo successful." Student* hold hands in Rustic as elsewhere. They seemed td me remarkably similar to the vflurtig men and women on American campuses and • I *elt quite at home among them. They dressed casually and they seemed gay enough. Even without translation, I could tell they were making jokes about the jerky elevators. It is admitted, incidentally, that the skyscraper is not ideal for a university. This 32-story struc- t'Jic was built in 1953; later buildings are more conventional. The cafeterias are drab, smelly and not appealing. But the food is inexpensive and obviously sufficient. The Russians are proud of their university and can show that It produces highly trained men and women. Whether it also educates them, a s we term education, i>s a question. But the thirst for learning Js great, and the great scientist, Lomonosov, who founded it more t'hnn 200 years ago set high precedents. When I bowed out of the office of the assistant rectore, he handed me a bronze medallion honoring Lomonosov, which I prize. By chance, I later met an officially recognized hero of the Soviet Republics, or, rather, a heroine. She was not Valentina who put sex into outer . space and clinched the world battle for equal for women. 110 Ww» ChesMMt, Garden City ' Jp«r* Moa.-M.—t-5; Sof. »-i I 9uick Service Number Ift 6-762* i She was a school teacher, (lie best in the USSR, and she teaches biology to what would be the Kansas equivalent of high school seniors. She resembled nothing more or less than a middle-aged graduate of the Emporia Teachers College, a plain, warm-faced woman in a neat and eminently serviceable brown dress. She had won the honor in competition with othe r teachers — and it should be noted again that in this socialistic world, it is competition that heln^ make Russia tick. Not for dollars but for glory and privilege. This i s found in every phase of Soviet life; the best janitnr gets his picture on the bulletin board. The course of instruction this Hero Teacher provides seems much like i\'.e general biolosy course in our high schools. And i she prepared for her vocation much as would a Kansas teach- j er. She spent ten years in pri- j mary and secondary schools and j then took a final examination, j With a successful grade in fiat, she took an entrance examination for the technical institute of pedagogv. She tgent five years at the institute. From the beginning she was taught methods as well Page 9 Gnrtlon City Tologrnm Wednesday, July 17, 1963 as biology; the two approaches; were woven togehfer. In herj fourth year, slhe spent half of her i time on theory, half in practice! teaching under the supervision of i experienced instructors, Upon! graduation, she received not a >, degree but a certificate. | The r«sult s this and other teachers produce — I met a group of them at an exhibition — seem equal to the best of those from our schools. The' displays were about What v°u would expect from blue ribbon exhibit, of school work at the 'state f«lr. One of the teachers, a man principal from the Ukraine, said he tried to impress upon his students not only the practical ns- pocts'of life but also the delights of art and the beauty of music. As a practiced politician, I told the group and the Soviet Hero that there is nothing more beau- j tiful that a truly good teacher. But I meant it. In Russia as elsewhere, teachers are in acute demand. Hero they are a prime instrument of the Soviet scheme. They are the chief tool by which the child fa shaped as a servant to the goals of the collective state. Two months after it is born, the Russian baby receives its first lesson in communism. It is sent to a nursery, usually maintained by the governm-ent factory where the mother work. After the nursery comes kindergarten, also state provided, and at the age of six formal schooling begins. It is compulsory. During the summer camps educational programs and trips are provided by the government. It i s a sight as familiar in Russia as in the United Sales to see a file of youngstershepherd- sce a file of youngster s shepherded by a teacher visiting a plant, a museum or a park. In addition, nearly every youngster belongs to one or another of the youth organizations maintained by the state. These are somewhat comparable to Boy or girl Scouts. .Members are identified by neckerchiefs of various colors and in some cases by medals and uniforms, Despite all this carefully planned bending of the twig, human nature does prevail.. ' My Leningrad interpreter is the mother of a 16 year old boy. Upon comparing notes, I discovered her problems regarding him followed a pattern that is more than familiar. More impressive than any of the 77 institutions of higher learning which Moscow boasts is the j Lenin Library. A vast structure reminiscent in design of the Library of Congress, it has a separate but connected 14-story modern stack building containing more than 20 million volumes. If the John Birch society's Blue Book is not included, I would be greatly surprised A quick sampling of its newspaper collection showed that the Lenin library is a regular subscriber to the Wall Street Journal. New York Herald Tribune and the Chicago Tribune, as well as the Washington Post, the Christian Science monitor and to the expected file of left-wing periodicals. It contains technical books in all languages and a surprising number of volumes of English and American literature. Russian students easily may obtain a library card opening this materia] to them, and if they are specialists they am given additional access and an assigned cubicle as well. More than 2,000 librarians are employed here in addition to platoons of guards, janitors and 'scrubwomen. A husky young woman with smattering of English led me through a succession of reading rooms, all of them filled to capacity, and let me sample the stacks and the catalogs. The catalogs are not according to American usage, and the Dewey decimal »y«t»m Is not used. In fact, the 'young librarian could not successfully explain why the library maintained so many different sets of catalogs, with cases of cards filling halls, corridors and separate file- rooms. I thought it was most confusing, and indeed, tiie Russian* do seem to have a genius for confusion. But this did not alter my admiration for thi s tremendous library and the service it renders. Urban Russia is nearly loo per cent literate; 1 do not know about the villages and the peoples in distant Asian republics. The people's thirst for knowledge seems almost behond assuaging. PENNEY'S ALWAYS FIRST QUALITY LAST 3 DAYS! 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