I first posted most of the following on Kremlin Stooge after having come across a Harding article in the Guardian. I am reposting it here so as to hopefully start the ball rolling as regards opinions concerning the state of education in Russia today: Harding is definitely suffering from some psychological disorder concerning anything associated with Russia and Russian citizens. He has in today’s (7 May 2013) Guardian a little piece about Russian children attending British private schools, “How the Russians came to Hogwarts”. In his article Harding contrasts the free, liberal English education system (I say “English” because the Scottish one is different in several respects), quoting a Russian education consultant working in the UK who “helps Russian-speaking parents navigate their way through the entrance and exam system”. “British schools”, Harding reports the Russian marketer of English private schools as saying, “nurture individuality and creativity, and teach pupils critical thinking, encouraging them to write essays and see both sides of an argument. The more rigid, fact-driven Russian system, by contrast, relies on “fear and pressure’, meted out by older, Soviet-trained teachers.” It’s that old Evil Empire again, and Harding goes on, saying that the wonderful English school system is at at odds with the xenophobic, often paranoid thinking that comes from Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. Furthermore, he maintains that a 27.4% increase in attendance of Russian children at English schools this year is the result of “Russia’s darkening politics” that “has prompted growing numbers of Russian parents to send their children to Britain.” That awful Russia! Such a dark foreboding place! And Hardings’s got to get at least one KGB reference in: "One observer describes the scene at the Lanesborough hotel in London, where a Russian mum with KGB connections had taken her 12-year-old son at a British prep school out for breakfast. The boy waved away his egg twice, complaining that it was not done the way he liked it. The mother was delighted with his behaviour, reading it as a sign of his assertiveness.” What a headbanger Harding is! Though I do not doubt that such a freaky mother and her offspring exist, what evidence does he present to support his claim that the Russian mother has "KGB connections"? And the KGB? The silly pillock is seemingly obsessed with that defunct organization. And what experience has Harding of Russian schools? Well, as a matter of fact, when Harding was the Guardian's man in Moscow, his children attended school there. In fact, one of the reasons he gave for wishing to return to Moscow after his having been shown the door the other year was so that his children could finish off their schooling there and not have to debunk to the UK with their persona non grata father. No doubt they went to a private school in Moscow. Fact is, though, that Harding chose not to have them continue their wonderful English education during his Russian posting. Maybe the Guardian doesn't pay him that much. As regards my experience of Russian schooling: my 13-year old son and 12-year-old daughter both go to a local state school here in Moscow and I have no complaints whatsoever concerning their education there. As regards their teachers, there are very few Soviet-trained ones about now, about whom Harding’s resident in the UK Russian marketer of English privates schools says rely “on fear and pressure”. All my children’s teachers are thoroughly professional, as were the several former Soviet teachers with whom I have become acquainted during my lengthy exile here. My almost 5-year-old daughter goes to a local kindergarten. Again, I have nothing but praise for this kindergarten and its staff - and I didn't bribe the director so that my child could get a placement there! Unlike Harding, I have experienced at first hand education in the Soviet Union, where I was both a student within and an observer of the Soviet education system. I visited Soviet schools – and not in Moscow but deep in the sticks in the Voronezh region: village schools full of impeccably behaved children, who could barely contain their delight in being honoured by the visit to their school of an Englishman of all things, and highly diligent, professional teachers devoted to their calling. I have never come across a semi-literate child or adult in Russia: I have done so in the UK, though, -many times. What is more, I have met people in the UK who are seemingly proud in a perverse sort of way of their near illiteracy. Anti-intellectualism is, I think, a big thing in the "Anglo-Saxon" world, where to be described as being "too clever by half" is an insult. What Harding and these Western shills really detest, though, is, in my opinion, the alleged systematic learning by rote prevalent in the Evil Empire. Well, there is rote learning in Russian schools: Russian children learn their timetables by heart as I did in an English infants’ school almost 60 years ago; they learn Russian grammar; they learn chunks of Russian poetry and literature by heart. Last summer, my son's school task was to learn Lermontov's lengthy epic poem "Borodino" off by heart. He did it. However, my children’s school has state-of-the-art classroom IT technology: there is a plasma screen in every classroom and a laptop on every teacher’s desk which projects lesson material onto a drop-down screen. My children do a lot of presentations with Power-Point in class. My son’s big thing is making stop-action movies with his Bionicles: he won a prize at an all-Russia schools competition for one of his Bionicle adventures recently, and though I say it myself, his success was well deserved. Of course, my children's school is an inner-city Moscow one. Such state-of-the-art technology would certainly not be found in village schools, and in many provincial ones as well. Nevertheless, the methodology and the curriculum would be the same everywhere in Russian state schools, which is another thing that used to be criticized in the UK, where there was until about 25 years ago no national curriculum. This criticism of the Soviet curriculum was all part and parcel of Western sneering at Soviet uniformity and its associated lack of creativeness, which criticism is evident in Harding's article, where he quotes the Russian marketer of all that is bright and wonderful and wholesome in British education as saying: "British schools nurture individuality and creativity, and teach pupils critical thinking, encouraging them to write essays and see both sides of the argument." Read: In Russian schools individuality and creativity is frowned upon, as is critical thinking. As regards the fear allegedly instilled by these Soviet monsters of teachers that still rule with a rod of iron in "the former Soviet Union", when I was a schoolboy in the UK, I was regularly assaulted by teachers with canes across the hands or arse for such gross misdemeanours as talking in class, not wearing my school cap when coming to school, tardiness and making mistakes in class or in homework. The caning stopped when I was about 12: I’d started to grow into a big boy by that time. They certainly did not instil fear in me as a result of their criminal activities, but they did leave me with an abiding loathing of them and their kind.