Former USSR | Kyrgyzstan – Communists
The introduction to Bantam’s 1992 printing of the Communist Manifesto explains succinctly that true, theoretical communism has never existed in the Soviet Union, or for that matter the world.
At any rate, after nearly seven decades of Soviet and communist “party” control, a lifted curtain reveals people bashful of strangers and stage-shy of their natural inclination to think.
Young people in Kyrgyzstan thirst for information, education, and the rest of the world. But they struggle in an antiquated school system of soviet fact dissemination to think clearly and analytically, and to put themselves to work in an economy with nothing to do. At the university, textbooks rarely exist, professors bring their own chalk, and everybody brings their own toilet paper. In business universities, IT classes can legitimately be taught with chalk drawings in leau of actual hardware. A bachelors degree from the most prestigious university in the country, American Univerity (with American tuition), doesnt in most cases even prepare students for the minimum entrance requirements of a masters degree program in the states. More fundamental than physical resources or academic reputations, and much harder to grasp, however, were the atrophying effects of the Soviet educational system on education. Under soviet control “analytic” thinking – something nearly impossible for westerners to step outside of – has literally been taught away. For over half a century students were motivated to memorize rote facts, to win the teacher’s favor and and not to stand out. Students were rewarded for spitting back facts, and reprimanded for deviation, creativity, or individualism. They were motivated by fear. They were genuinely educated not to think.
These are my blunt, maybe controversial perceptions after three months of technical training and teaching practicum in the capitol’s university business setting. Open-ended, slightly abstract questions like “why” or “what do you think” are met with blank stares. Students are eager and want to learn, but have been short changed by the educational system’s responsibility (in my opinion at least) to teach indepedent, analytic thinking. And although the system is gradually evolving, and some enlightened people are working towards educational reform, places of first and secondary-education in rural areas continue the “soviet” method as if nothing as changed. These are initial impressions and I am still getting oriented, but its clear that my job as a university business and english instructor is going to focus more on critical thinking and communication in the global environment than actual business subjects.