Posts tagged ideology

Play up strengths, tone down the criticism…check!

The following is what I wrote to my coordinators after I had refreshed myself on how to send a more encouraging feedback letter to young high school students. I admitted the error of my ways. But hopefully they will heed that our own scoring rubrics encourage us as raters to tell the students what we see in order for them to improve in their essay writing. I have not heard a response from my coordinators since I wrote to them. Hopefully this missive hit the mark.

I guess I have taken so much tough critiques from my husband and a newspaper editor friend of mine about my second book coming out in June, that I had forgotten my role as a reader and rater of fragile 11th grade students. I do not know what these teenagers are going through with cliques, bullying and feeling rejection perhaps in their own family. The teacher sees them day in and day out, we don’t.

I see after reading the website how I need to FIRST give the strengths of the essay, I have been remiss in this. Then provide some of the challenges (which I amply dole out) and then give helpful feedback about “strategies for improvement.”

I guess I’m so eager to get help from my own readers about my writing and change things as quick as they give them to me, that I forget that some young writers (and young teachers) are not willing to receive what may be perceived as insensitive and cruel feedback. I will say that words matter and from my own life experience overseas, “Ideas REALLY matter.” Ideologies have killed more people in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere where I have lived. Enough said.

Indeed, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” may be true in MY case. Words alone do not hurt unless the malicious intent is to harm people’s reputations. My pursuit in history and in global issues stems from my quest in learning more, being curious about my environment. According to the scoring rubric “Ideas” for a college ready writer should be “original and clear and generate and convey fresh ideas and avoid dull and obvious observations.” Slavery was bad 200 years ago and in the deep South, we all acknowledge that. Even so, prejudice continues today. We fought a terrible “civil” war over that issue, I have Norwegian ancestors who fought for the African Americans’ freedoms because they themselves believed in freedom so much! They came of their own volition to the “New Land” for greater opportunity.

According to the “Organization” of an essay that is college ready, the “structure and framework which the ideas are arranged should be smoothly and logically arranged…so that readers don’t get lost or confused.” Logic is very important, hopefully we have not lost that with our current educational system. I would hope that teachers would explain better about Argument essays having a claim and then counterclaim, pro and con. Argument essays should not be a slam dunk of just one side and I am seeing that in some of the essays that are submitted. From now on I will write you to have them changed to “Explain and Inform” if I see that happen again where the essay does not fit the criteria for “Argument.”

Definitely you will see an adjustment in my feedback letters as I will be using the scoring rubric more and inserting comments there when necessary.

Yes, a teachable moment for us all.

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Liya’s paper: Effects of Soviet Ideology

I – Introduction

“The beak of ideology always precisely gets when hits on heads of fellow citizens, and never gets in grain of true” (Iskander, F.). These words of Soviet writer Fazil Iskander lead us to a question of ideology in the USSR. The appearance of such a strong idea of collective mind was a conclusive consequence of Soviet regime setting. As Soviet Union assumed total equality of all people, those people had to be similar to each other. It was a necessary condition for living in the USSR. So, population rapidly tended to an absolute similarity to each other. At first sight, this process had been going almost successfully. However, on the closer consideration the situation was not so pretty as it seemed to be. Soviet ideology had cut a great amount of Russian intelligence of the USSR and also destroyed millions of lives of people in USSR. The problem of ideology appeared because of extremely inaccurate government’s attitude to people in the country and too strong pressure on the population and which has been passed on to a complex of modern problems in the countries of the former Soviet Union. 

II – Background of ideological problems in USSR

The situation with ideology always was complicated. Before the Great October Revolution there was the imperial regime and there was another pressure on people – a duty to love the Russian tsar. Soldiers were fighting for their country every time and they had no choice. The only way was to go to the battlefield and try to save native lands even at the price of their own lives. Soldiers got trauma and shell-shocked but they were ready to die for the Russian Empire and it’s strong ideology. Merridale (2000) noticed: “For Russian traditionalists, the only way for a soldier to fight was ‘with the cross of Christ before his eyes’”(p. 41). So, before the Soviet Union was organized, the role of ideology was in the religious sphere of life for Russians.

Then after the October Revolution the religious ideology and belief in tsar were crushed and exchanged to a new viewpoint – a collective mind. The population of an enormous state Russian Empire passed from one hand to another and got under a new and stronger ideology. Again there was no way to hide – they had to learn how to live according the new rules.

III – Extent of a problem – the possibility to survive under pressure

These changes became a serious problem for people. An idea of collective mind, the dominance of proletariat and “bright future” built by “dark” part of population seemed attractive only from a safe distance. In reality, there was not so bright and easy life. One of the respondents, Solomon Budiyanskiy tells about the reality of the high socialist society:

“When I was a young specialist I was sent to a business-trip to an ‘udarnaya stroika’ – a great construction near Sverdlovsk. I was inspired by the opportunity of working for my future. However, really the situation was directly opposite to my expectations. When I saw those awful people, who were working in this construction – people who were prisoners and criminals – I understood that there is no any ‘bright future’ ahead – it is a great deceit for a great country”.


According to Solomon’s words, life that seemed noble was in fact horrible and proletariat – people that seemed to be bright and positive, were horrible people. They drunk every day, every hour, they may kill a person without confusion – they were a real bottom of society. The main thing is that they did not believe in any future, communism or any other dogmas. They were totally crushed by the state’s ideology.

There is an amazing fact that elder immigrants from the former Soviet Union have serious problems with their mental health. The adaptation in the new country was a difficult and extremely uncomfortable process for them – life without their specific home land tends to destroy people’s minds (Polyakova & Pacquiao, 2006). Although those Soviet citizens, who are over 60 years old are at risk of serious effects on their lives now.

Moreover, the Soviet ideology assumed consideration of all citizens’ problems publicly. For instance, Military Collegium that is a concrete case of public consideration of person’s private problem (Jansen & Petrov, 2006). Except this strong example there were lots of such cases: school meeting – special ‘lineika’, organizational meeting for consider colleagues’ own problems. It caused differentiation on relationships in the society because such meetings for consideration of private problems were the same as provocations. And people, who had got in these situations, were in a danger of isolation from their social groups (Pascal & Manning, 2000). 

IV – Solution for a problem – Freedom for ideas

Unfortunately, in that situation there was no available solution when the Soviet party had power. The reason of that was obvious – creation of such a strong ideology was an aim of the Soviet government. The only way to rule the USSR was usage of strongest pressure on the population. Now the Soviet Union disappeared with all its features and also the legendary Soviet ideology. But all the problems caused by the 70 Soviet years stay with independent states of former USSR. And the only solution is to delete all vestiges of Soviet times and actually start a new life – to start the way from the beginning again. No matter how it might be difficult – people again have no other choice.

V – Conclusion

The main problem of countries of the former USSR is a confused and disordered way of living. People there are thinking of past ideology, trying to follow it and even feel nostalgia for their past lives. They even are suffering from a strong nostalgia (Fitzpatrick, 2007) . However the solution of these problems is to change lifestyle and viewpoints. For the process of such transition the time is needed, so states should provide significant changes faster. But it is also a ‘stick with two ends’. Governments should finally start caring for their citizens. And it would be the best way to go to the future. ‘The third is not given’. 




Budiyanskiy, Solomon (personal interview) Nov. 15, 2008

Fitzpatrick, S. (2007). The Soviet Union in the twenty-first century. Journal of European

 Studies, 37(1), 51-71.

Iskander, F. Quotes and Aphorisms. From: Wikiquote.


Jansen, M. & Petrov. N. (2006). Mass Terror and the Court: The Military Collegium of

            the  USSR. Europe-Asia Studies, 58(4), 589-602.


Merridale, C. A. (2000). The Collective Mind: Trauma and Shell-shock in Twentieth-century

 Russia. Journal of Contemporary History, 35(1), 39-55.

Pascall , G. & Manning, N. (2000). Gender and social policy: comparing welfare states in

Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Journal of European Social Policy, 10(3), 240-266.

Polyakova, S. A. & Pacquiao, D. F. (2006). Psychological and Mental Illness Among Elder

 Immigrants From the Former Soviet Union. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 17(40),


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USSR’s Past Problems, My Students’ Grandparents Solutions

The following excerpts are just some brainstorming my students are doing about their final essay and portfolio project for our academic reading and writing course. Problems aplenty, their grandparents had creative solutions in order to get out from under the burdens of the Soviet regime.  I am looking forward to reading their FINAL PRODUCT!


Russian empire’s system of education – The nature of this problem led to repression and political organization in the early Soviet Union.  The nature of problem is distribution of state money in Russian empire, less of it was spent on education and thus not developed educational system.  Consequently, enormous amount of uneducated “marginal” people and this problem concerned every person and effected every sphere of their living.  Main effect is revolution [1917] and after that fatal because no competition of any competent personnel.  The effect was an absolute fall of science and culture. Natalya


Education – Problems with education with no teachers, not enough schools.  Also, I think it is a problem for Kazakh people because in Soviet period all things were put into Russian language. Many Kazakh people didn’t get hired on jobs.  Many Kazakhs learn Russian language and forgot their own language.  I think some of parents don’t know their mother language because their parents spoke Russian language.  Their solution to survive was to learn Russian. Madina


Education – Some problems in education was overteaching, too much to read in some classes which children don’t need.  In the Soviet time, education was censored.  All pupils learned by only one book and nowadays we can choose our books and the way of learning ourselves.  It was in the whole Soviet Union because the Soviet government made that for “brain cleaning.”  For showing their way of history and showing dictators from good side.  It started from kindergarten and ended in the university, after this education they are believe that only their dictator is the best, only the Soviet Union is the best, etc.

Solution: – Now people only smiling when reminded of these times.  People learn how to think for themselves and how to learn themselves.  Askar


Famine – The topic of my problem/solution essay is starvation and WWI.  I think that is one of the great problems of that period of time because a lot of people died and their families stayed alone without help.  The nature of the problem is unemployment because it was difficult to have a good education in that period and people did not work and died from famine.  It had a great impact on the people and many small children began to work very early.  I think that this problem needed to be solved by the older generation because small children struggled from these problems.  Also, a lot of people died during Great Patriotic War, many people lost their relatives and it was really difficult to stabilize the situation that existed in that period of time.  Nowadays we haven’t so difficult situation, like starvation and I think our great grandfathers did everything for that. Zhanna


Famine after WWII – Nature of the problem is famine after and during WWII.  The main cause is war and approximately all men were taken to war.  Everything was put on women, most products (food) was sent to war places.  This problem was not in the whole country, but mostly in auls (villages) and nearest places to front.  This probably was needed to be solved because many, many people would die.  Finally, if this problem wasn’t solved, then people simply would die, because people first of all needed to eat to survive. Diana


Soviet Living Conditions – All these problems of bad lifestyle, lack of food and clothes, no place to live and long lines to stand in, led to illnesses and depopulation.  Older generations tried to solve that problem by using their own experience, and in my problem solution essay I will use quotes from my grandmother in how she solved these problems.

If no solution had been found, people would have died, so the conclusion is “the strong people will survive.”

All these problems are very important for former USSR, because our older generation suffered from these problems and I want to show it in my paper. Kristina


Broken up families/poor families – Many Soviet women had to bring up their children alone because their husbands had died during the war, famine, etc.  The effects of this is that many children, especially oldest sons didn’t have “proper” childhoods, women had to work harder, also start to do some “man work.”  The fact that there is no man in the family didn’t effect well psychologically on little children as well; women started to emancipate in many fields of life.  Maiya


Soviet repression – I’ll choose the problems which were social problems about gulags and prisons.  During the Stalin’s repression, a lot of people became an enemies of the state because of different causes.  In Soviet period, there are a lot of educated people, “intelligence” they were against an ideology, Stalin’s regime and that’s why the government decided to imprison them.  This problem was extended in the whole USSR.  Many people were imprisoned in gulags and died there.  Then the population was fallen dramatically.  That time was a scary time when people were in fear and always worried about themselves and their relatives. Akbota


Evacuation – People who were relocated during WWII faced new living conditions they weren’t used to.  This problem was caused by evacuation during WWII.  These problems needed to be solved because it was the only way to survive.  If no solution had been found, all the people who suffered a lot, both local people and those who were evacuated would have died.  This problem was very widespread during that time because families were destroyed, relatives were placed in different regions of the country.  But still, they had to be strong to start a new life in a new location. Yelena


Enemies of the PeopleSoviet Union claimed that my grandparents were enemies of the USSR.  They were the elites and came from well-educated and well known families and the communist party wanted to make all the people as equal as possible and started to destroy the elites of Kazakh, to not let them mobilize all the poor and not to educate people to protect their rights and do not proclaim themselves as independent, a sovereign republic from USSR.

The elites of Kazakhs at that time wanted to be free as their ancestors, to establish as Kazakh autonomy country and they could mobilize people to fight for their sovereignty.  But most of the elites were killed by communist party’s representatives and their wives were sent to working camps such as gulag ALZHIR.  But the wives could stay straight even under a lot of problems came and they survived.  They worked hard and helped other people and finally they achieved their goals.  Kazakhstan is independent and a sovereign republic. Aida








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Nurlybek’s Grandma – “Famine’s Life and Death Decision”


I asked my grandma for some interesting story about her life experience so she told me her mum’s story which happened in 1931-32 to one woman.  My grandma was born by 1935 and it was Soviet Union time. By 1942-45 there was Second World War which she still remembers, but in that time she was only 7-10 years old. And as she said that was such an awful time, that the people can not see their good future and everyday hoping that war will finish that very day.

But before the Second World War happened in Kazakh nation was big tragedy and it was the famine. It happened in 1931-32 and during these years in Kazakh land was political repression of Kazakh people and the government of Soviet Union tried to quickly install the ideology and the rules of socialism, when all people are the same. So the government took everything from people especially food, dress, animals and etc. And at the end of this action the Kazakh people haven’t got anything to survive, so by 1931 in nation started famine. Especially when it was winter most of the people died hungry. So, people were so crazy that they even ate grass and mice…  

So, as she remembers in that winter near the village of where her mum lived was one very hungry village. There especially wasn’t any kind of food, drink and dress… And one woman with her small children, who was girl and boy decided to go to village where grandpa mum’s lived. But out side of village was so dangerous with wolves that everyone was so afraid, but the woman ran away. She had a long hard way and when the next village was closed she suddenly heard the howl of wolves. And in that moment she understands that there is no chance to survive with her children. So she decided to leave one of her children behind, which was a girl. So, she left her and continued the trip. At the end, she come to village and cried every day, but she also understood that her son is alive he would continue the decent of Kazakh nation.   

Overall I hope that not ever human society will see this tragedy like famine. And I also hope that our young Kazakh generation will remember that worst time and have respect for the people who died in that time. Because, the fifty percent of Kazakh popularity died during that time…

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