Student Curriculum

In 1946, new rules were added to the Russian school system for both the students and the teachers, including strict punishments for little things such as taking a longer lunch break than given. Being perfectly behaved children was now a high expectation of the state. All of the children throughout the state follow the same curriculum from 1st-10th grade, minus military preparation which split up the sexes. The only thing that students could choose for themselves was in foreign languages, but not every school had more than one option. Russian language was a requirement for everyone. The school days are also different there, there are 213 days in a school year and the school week is six days a week. This shows how important and intense education had become to the Soviet state. This document made it a point to add that Soviet children had more advanced studies in math and science, gaining more experience in higher fields than American children. The amount of hours every week spent studying each subject varies in their curriculum, with the Russian language taking up the most amount of hours in a given week. The second highest amount of hours in a subject is math, and then third is tied with history, foreign language, and physical culture.

There are several new rules put in place for the students that include:

1. Sit erect during the lesson period, no leaning on elbows or slouching.

2. Rise as the teacher or direct enter or leaves the classroom.

3. Greet teachers and directors on the street with a polite bow.

4. To be courteous and considerate towards children, the aged, the weak, and the sick, to give them the seat on the trolley or the right of way on the street, to help them in every way.

5. To obey his parents and help care for his/her little brothers and sisters.

If any of these rules were violated, students were subject to punishment and possible expulsion. I find it very interesting that students also had school rules to follow outside of school when they were in town or at home. I wonder how they would be discovered disobeying the rules when they were outside of school, were people always watching or did their parents actually tell on them when they could possibly be expelled for it?


Geldern, James von. “1947: The New Curriculum” Seventeen Moments of Soviet History, assessed October 19, 2014.

George S. Counts, The Challenge of Soviet Education (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957), pp. 74-75.

George S. Counts, The Challenge of Soviet Education (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957), pp. 76-77

5 thoughts on “Student Curriculum

  1. What struck me as interesting is that the Soviet curriculum called for students to spend the most time studying the Russian language, rather than math and science, I.E. the technical/engineering disciplines that could potentially move the world. One does not need to spend a whole lot of time studying one’s own language in order to get by and be fluent.
    I’m not sure what jobs were desirable back then, but today I know that linguistic-related jobs are scarce while engineering jobs are abundant. I find it contradictory that the Soviets would create such an intensive educational curriculum (6 days a week), but required that the largest chunk of that time be spent on something that is honestly not that useful.
    I wonder if this focus on learning the Russian language reflects the Soviet’s prominent desire for it’s citizens to be extremely loyal and nationalistic in regards to the ‘Fatherland.’

  2. I think the focus on Russian language (as well as foreign languages) and mathematics comes from an appreciation of how fundamental communication and symbolic reasoning are to making one’s way through the world. Then as now, “education” and “vocational training” are not necessarily the same thing. You’ll notice that the heavy emphasis on Russian is most apparent in the early grades. Yes, the promotion of Russian language was about national pride, but it was also about inculcating the values and sensibilities of the culture in which the language is embedded.

  3. I found this to be very informative on the level of conformity the Soviet Union was pushing for the younger generation. They wanted to engineer the perfect well rounded student, and to do this they wanted them all to be similar to one another. I also found it odd that they would have “school” rules for when the students were outside of school. Honestly I think it’s a good idea and prevents students from putting up a mask of being a good friendly kid at the school building then being whatever they want outside of school.

  4. Like the above said, this seems like an attempt to create a “perfect” Russian society. Stalin had already royally screwed up the path to true communism, so why not make it look more like one. Also, Instilling a kind of military value in their souls seems sort of opposite from the Bolsheviks in the dawn of the revolution when they cut out all formal military attitudes in the Russian Army.

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