September 6, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10184

Russian Teachers' Union Official Lukhovitsky Reassures Teachers: No One Will Install A Video Camera In Your Classroom

September 6, 2022
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10184

In an interview with Piotr Godlewski of Rosbalt media, Moscow teacher and trade union official, Vsyevolod Lukhovitsky attempts to reassure his fellow teachers prior to the start of the school year. Since the start of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, Russian officials have been competing with each other in introducing laws for strengthening patriotic education. Lukhovitsky advises them to remember that the legislators in their zeal overlooked the fact that many topics were already part of the curriculum. There are contractual obligations to the teachers and constitutional provisions that cannot be brushed aside cavalierly. The guidelines are vague, and each region interprets them differently.

However, when addressing the topic of how the special military operation should be discussed in the classroom, He cautions his colleagues " to remember the legal side, i.e. the children's safety and your own."

The interview with Lukhovitsky follows below: [1]

Russian schoolboy in Crimea holds a school bell festooned with the colors of the Russian flag (Source:

As never before, the onset of a new school year is accompanied by anxious fears about innovations in school education (which hasn’t been the case before). Many of them were aimed by the government on strengthening the cultivation of patriotism in children, literally from the first grade. How will teachers work under such conditions? Vsevolod Lukhovitsky, a teacher at the “Intellectual” school in Moscow and a member of the council of the Teacher's Trade Union, tries to reassure his colleagues.

Starting from the 1st of September, there will be a weekly ritual of raising the flag and singing the national anthem in all the country's schools. Will this help cultivate patriotism in our children?

As someone brought up in the Soviet Union, I’m used to being a bit skeptical about any such symbols. I assume that any official events have very little impact on schoolchildren.

Over the last thirty years there have been many instances in which, for instance, atheist groups have suddenly cropped up in Orthodox gymnasiums, and groups of not particular patriotically-minded children have appeared in several expressly patriotically-oriented schools.

It seems to me to be a completely natural thing. Education is not about  stuffing children with information of this kind or another, but a very complex process. Thus, it’s either raising of the flag and singing of the anthem simply won't have any impact on the majority, or it will have a negative effect on some (negative from the point of view of the people who proposed introducing it, that is).

There are a lot of articles today about how another innovation that will be implemented this academic year, “Talks About Important Things.” [hereafter – “Talks”] Have you and your colleagues already discussed this?

First, no one knows anything yet, because so far there are no regulatory documents on all these “Talks.” There are no orders, no instructions, let alone articles of law. There are a lot of different versions of recommendations addressed to teachers, head teachers, school principals.

But even such a simple question, what needs to be [the format of]: "a class hour, which is conducted by the class teacher," or “extracurricular activities, which all teachers can engage in?” is being resolved differently in each region.

Provided it will take place in after-school hours, then the “Talks” will have to be carried out by the class teacher. If it will be realized as an extra-curricular activity, then [such activity should only be introduced] with the teacher's consent. To this end, an additional clause is put in the work contract: the work has to be paid for and the teacher has to agree for it voluntarily. No one can yet predict how it will work out in the schools,

The topics of these talks were made public through various official websites. The drawn-up timetable is already by the end of November.

This is a rough timetable. No one has overturned the Constitution, nor the freedom of pedagogical creativity, or Article 47 of the Law “On Education in the Russian Federation” which prescribes the right of teachers to use any [educational] forms and methods and to plan their activities independently. The Ministry is mainly guided by the already existing calendar of commemorative dates and major events.

The most interesting thing is that there is nothing fundamentally new in the schedule for “Talks.” One lesson, for example, is to be dedicated to “Father's Day.” It turns out we have such a day. Separately there should be lessons about “Mother's Day,” “Women's Day,” “Disability Day.” Almost all of these lessons were already in place, but now our pedagogical leadership has decided that it’s necessary to present it, as a fundamentally new action, to showcase that the entire education system devotes special attention to patriotic upbringing.

“Schoolchildren in grades 5 to 7 will be asked to discuss the special military operation [SVO], as “a manifestation of true patriotism.” In later grades, the aim is set as “understanding of the SVO goals.” How should such talks will be conducted?

SVO is a topic, that is, something has to be said about it. How to talk and how to discuss it, is up to the teacher. Here, too, one can use guidelines, use discussions, and not be afraid of tough questions from children, as well as to remember the legal side, i.e. the children's safety and your own.

I say this solely to reassure fellow teachers. Since June, in addition to this “Talks about important things,” information has descended upon them about new terrifying educational standards being introduced from 1st of September. So it is unclear what curricula and textbooks we will be working with.

This summer was stressful for teachers and parents. That is why I want to reassure people. Colleagues, you will work in the same manner, you’ve been working so far. No one will come to our classrooms, no one will put a video camera in every classroom. That is forbidden by law. Why on earth would children speak out freely, while someone checks them out?

Vsyevolod Lukhovitsky (Source:


[1], September 1, 2022.

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