You know, education is one of these areas where you never see many comparisons between the old USSR and the rest of the world. Which is no wonder, considering it was their top priority. It's one of these things it had from birth which were never shed away. Lenin insisted on not skimping on culture and education, insisting that socialism required developed minds to maintain. I always agreed with that statement -- although clearly it's a necessary but not sufficient condition -- self-backpatting be damned, and the behavior of entirely too many Americans amidst a deadly plague pretty much clinches it.
Back to the USSR. Did you know that, by the late 80s, it contained about half of all movie screenings rooms in the world? They had a project to ensure every single school had at least one. And they sure as hell didn't use them to screen romantic comedies and blockbusters. And, if I'm going to be honest, I have been considering the limitation of consuming media, especially all by oneself, it's clearly doing something to our heads. Anyway, I can't find solid confirmation because historical data about school curricula of various countries is the sort of information you can't quite find online, but it's possible that the USSR was the last country in the world which taught music and arts in the basic curriculum. They were a people who once filledsports arenas to hear poetry recitals
, and to whom the word "uncultured" was the biggest offense you could throw. Meanwhile, the developed West started scrapping their own education system, I assume, even before the end of the Cold War, with neoliberalism. No need to elevate the human spirit when you only measure standardized tests, after all. Developed Eastern countries followed them in spirit if not in practice, by keeping a bit of that elevating thing but more to relieve stress than anything else, as they focused on standardized testing even more.
I like to think of those Soviet schools, little redoubts of culture with their music classes, movie theaters and art paraphernalia, dotting the continental vastness between the Baltic and the Pacific, an archipelago of incomparably more islands than the overly-remembered gulag one, yet completely forgotten, even by its own people. The gulag archipelago now bears an American flag, but the education archipelago remains lost to all mankind. In its place, capitalists have given us one which, so far, has an island for money laundering and one for pedophilia. Who knows what other sins compose that ghastly chain of islands? The way the system is quickly degenerating, I wouldn't be surprised if the owners of the world didn't have an island dedicated solely to burning books.