The Russian Soviet Republic

By Edward Alsworth Ross | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIII

EDUCATION UNDER COMMUNISM

THE educational policy of Soviet Russia is best interpreted as a natural reaction from czarist education. Under Nicholas II a gigantic fraud had been perpetrated on the children of the common people by feeding them husks when they were famishing for bread. The trick was to obscure while seeming to enlighten, to conserve darkness while going through the motions of extending education. Schools were multiplied, but more than a third of them were church schools in which the Slavonic language, prayers, psalter, choral singing, Bible stories, and catechism were the staples. Early in Nicholas's reign there had been a fine educational effort led by the zemstvos, or local boards. They set up better schools than the people had ever known, but the Government took alarm. The zemstvos were not to establish advanced schools. When they planned to teach all children, autocracy blocked them by prohibiting the raising of their taxes more than 2 per cent. in a year. Then the Government set up "ministerial" schools (i. e., under the Ministry of Public Instruction) and campaigned against the zemsky schools, alleging that they did not express the national spirit or promote the real interests of the people, who needed not learning so much as a deeper and truer understanding of God, the church and their duty to the czar.

The parish schools and ministerial schools were not gardens where child minds sprouted but molds designed to form in the people from childhood the spirit of subservience to the ruling classes. They were about as educative as a "school" for training trick seals. And while the children

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