In today’s world, the flavor of the day in education is for each student to have their own creative path to higher learning. The Soviet Union’s system was much different than this. During World War II, the classrooms were split between sexes and each group of children and while the students were under high pressure to succeed, the teachers were subjected to even higher stakes.
Teachers and other school employees could be punished for having a lunch break go over the planned time and the student’s behavior and success had a direct effect on the teacher’s job security.
The students’ curriculum was the same from the first grade to the tenth grade, with the only difference being different military training for the male and female groups. The heaviest emphasis for the students’ learning was on Russian language and literature, which encompassed 2,772 hours a year and math took up 1,980 hours. Compared with the average American pupil at the time, the Soviet students were much farther ahead in math and science.
While the Soviet Union’s school system seems extremely rigorous, the classroom was a source of structure and guidance for the pupils and it gave the Soviet youth a source of pride in that they were getting a quality education.
P. N. Shimbirev and I. T. Ogorodnikov, Pedagogika (Moscow, 1955), p. 103.