Posts tagged Belarus

Non-Bellicose Belarus Bear and more…

Not sure why the artist from Belarus chose a black cat behind a house, along with swans and tulips. It looks like the artwork of elementary school children or what you would find in a nursery. Cuba is unabashedly promoting their Cuban cigar industry, while New Zealand shows off their odd kiwi birds front and center.  See what you think of these bears, some may appear bellicose while others seem tame.

And now for something very different…I LOVE my country very much, as I’m sure most people do from their respective countries represented by the Buddy Bears.  Here’s the FIRST verse of the Star Spangled Banner which is sung at the beginning of all games of all sports, professional and amateur.  I believe it is a good tradition, with hand to the heart standing at quiet attention:

“Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?…

Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

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More Work Party Photos and Soviet Pedagogy

My first exposure to Soviet pedagogy was in a somewhat unlikely place when I taught English for two years in Harbin, China from 1986-1988.  As teachers and foreign experts, we all lived in a foreign guest compound far removed from the Chinese masses with about five or six other Soviet experts. Add to the mix a few Japanese guys learning how to be chefs, a woman from Ireland, a British man and some other Americans and we had a mini-United Nations. We all had more in common than not, living in the strange but mysterious land of China.

I forget a few of the Soviet peoples’ names but I DO remember there was Nick from Latvia, Isa from Azerbaijan, Larissa from Minsk, Belarus, a quiet guy (because he didn’t know much English) from Georgia, another physicist who didn’t believe in dreams, maybe one or two others.  Every day for noon lunch, my American teammates and I would sit together in the big dining room as foreign experts and talk about different things related to China, teaching and life outside of China.  That was the first time I realized there was an undercurrent of nationalism going on with each country represented from the U.S.S.R. Each Russian speaker was very proud of his own nation before the U.S.S.R. took over only sharing in Russian and the same educational background. Of course they were all Soviet citizens and even though we were still in the middle of the Cold War, we all got along.  Joking and eating together, going to banquets, dances and fashion shows when our university dictated when and where we were supposed to go.  I have fond memories of our foreign guest quarters with the mix of cultures.

Two events alerted me to the difference in teaching methodology of the Soviets compared to what I was trained in as an American teacher.  First, some friends of mine in the compound wanted to learn ballroom dancing from Nick, the physicist from Latvia. Nick was an excellent dancer and swept us all off our feet.  However, it was reported back to me that he was an absolute tyrant and drill master when the girls took lessons from him.  Sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, they would say, “What’s with Nick?”  I put that together with Larissa, the Russian teacher who also got very uppity about the peculiarities of her language.  Not sure if Belarussian was her first language, if that even exists. I’m guessing it does but that never came up.  They were Soviet citizens, their lingua franca was Russian.  In any case, Larrisa would take on this same persona of joyless, drill master when we asked her about some Russian phrases.

This made me realize almost twenty-five years ago that our western system of teaching was vastly different from that of the Soviets.  Teaching in China I was reacquainted with what I already knew from working as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines about teacher-centered vs. student-centered. That’s a huge given that the Chinese approach to teaching is teacher-centered but I witnessed the Soviet system was the same, teacher-centered driven. 

What have I learned these past two years since teaching in Kazakhstan about the Soviet pedagogy? The following is what I picked up off of Johnson’s Russia List, a highly subscribed blog.  The following are paraphrased observations made by a Ukrainian, Vladimir Sirotin from the Johnson’s Russia List JRL 2009 – 219. from November 30, 2009.

The founding father of Soviet pedagogy in the Stalin and post-Stalin era was Anton Makarenko (1888-1939) a Ukrainian.  He had tried to eradicate a problem that had started in Ukraine a decade before with forced collectivization that separated families.  Many Ukrainian children lost their parents due to their refusal to comply with the dictates coming from Moscow. As a result, the parents often were either killed or sent off to Siberia.  Thus, children ran in packs like wild dogs without adult supervision and were known for crimes of theft and other misdemeanors in order to survive. Once caught, there was heavy handed discipline in orphanages and schools were a result to tame these wild urchins found in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. 

Before Makarenko’s seven volumes on how to discipline, there existed Domostroi, (means “Domestic Order) an old Russian book, dating back over 500 years, which served as a handbook on how to run a patriarchal household.  It emphasized strict hierarchy and laying down punishments for disobedience, including corporal punishment. 

(To be continued tomorrow)

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Zaida’s Red Army Hero Grandfather

My grandfather Baidrahmanov Permahambet Sabitovich was born in 1911 in the village Karatal of area Prishimskogo of the North-Kazakhstan area in a family of poor men. His father Sabit died in 1934 since my grandfather went to an elementary rural school. Though the time was hard and the family were in need, despite that he wanted to study so much that he went to the village Bogolyubovo. There he entered in a Russian seven-years school, which he had successfully finished in 1927.

After there with a certificate about seven-years education, he went on to the city of Petropavlovsk and entered in the pedagogical school. In 1930 by direction of a department of formation he went to the area of Presnovsk in a village Ortalyk. Up to 12 years before leaving for the Front, he worked as the teacher in villages of Ortalyk, Berlyk and Zhargain areas. According to him, he was a very strict, fair and creative teacher.

In May of 1941, my grandfather was called to the army and directed to the city of Gorki on intensive courses for political workers. Having finished study in October of the same year, he was directed to the Baltic front as the assistant to the commander company on watered-parts 50-th shelf. Considering bravery, courage and other positive qualities, the command he was directed an infantry school where he was training from 1943 until 1944. At the end of the study he was appointed commander of the shooting platoon 177 –th Kishinev Guards a shelf of 60-th Red Army divisions of 5-th shock army of the first Belarus front. To serve in the elite troop of the Red Army was honorable and very responsible.

In 1957, he was selected as the secretary of the party organization and he worked there some years. One advantage his work had always been established in the Front. His fighting awards were Gold Star of the Hero, Lenin’s award for Fighting Difference on Front also a medal for Victory over Germany. His personal feat in January 14-th in 1945 at break of long term defense of the opponent in area of Bada. My grandfather, during artillery preparation, had advanced the platoon to a German mine field. As soon as his artillery had transferred fire of defense of the enemy, he wired obstacles carrying away for fighters. In suburb of Bady, my grandfather with a platoon blocked the enemy, he had destroyed pomegranates one machine-gun and he had provided promation of his infantry.

In my opinion we shouldn’t ever have the right to forget about the severe years for all our people. Certainly the traces of the war on the ground didn’t remain, but they were kept in our hearts, in memory of our brave grandparents and ancestors.

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