I know I’m old and curious and stuff, but I’m disappointed by how little class discussion there is during our Russian class’ weekly “culture” lecture, a welcome break from all those goddamn verbs.
Yesterday our native-Muscovite professor gave us an overview of the Russian educational experience, with a short detour to a village most students have great familiarity with — cheating.
Cheating, she explained, has its own moral code. In her time (I’d estimate she’s roughly my age), it was considered wrong to cheat on any important subject, but a badge of honor to cheat on the obligatory Marxist-Leninist dogma classes everybody had to take. All Russian students of that time are well-versed in crib sheet techniques, the better to pass exams in which they were required to memorize the dates of specific party congresses in which resolution 101.342.(f) was adopted, not to mention rote mastery of long chunks of the speeches of Leonid Brezhnev. You know, Brezhnev, that dynamic, easily quotable speaker.
Girls had an advantage in these things, she said; they used their thighs as canvases, raising their skirts to reveal the answers. Boys favored accordian-fold notes slipped into sleeves.
The Russians have a great respect for higher learning, but these classes, she estimated, is why a university degree there takes five years, rather than our four.