In Soviet Times, Russian Children were More Like Adults; Now, Russian Adults are More Like Children, Psychologists Say

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 21, 2017)

Fifty years ago, Soviet psychologists conducted a major study of Russian children in the fourth and fifth classes; now, Russian psychologists have replicated that study and conclude that in Soviet times, Russian children were more like adults while now Russian adults are more like children. (kp.ru/daily/26734.4/3761099/).

The 1967 study was conducted by Daniil Elkonin, while the current one, which was based on an updated protocol of the first, has been carried out by Katerina Polivanova, the director of the Moscow Center for Research on Contemporary Childhood, journalist Kseniya Konyukhova reports in today’s Komsomolskaya Pravda (kp.ru/daily/26734.4/3761099/).

“In the 1960s,” one of Polivanova’s colleagues says, “fifth class pupils wanted that they be dealt with as adults, that their opinions be considered and that they be treated with respect … [Now] “childhood is a much more attractive period than adulthood, which they see as consisting of a multitude of obligations and lack of time.”

“Soviet youths,” Polivanova continues, “showed themselves more focused on school. On the one hand, they took their studies seriously; but on the other, there were those who revolted, who protested against this and undervalued education.” Present-day pupils “do all their tasks accurately and on time” not because they are more obedient but because they’ve concluded it is “‘cheaper'” to do so.

The current generation of pupils is also less inclined to view whatever the teacher says as true. Another difference, researchers say, is that present-day pupils have far fewer responsibilities other than getting an education – and that is something their parents make clear they need to do to succeed in life.

The reason school children have changed, the researchers say, is that “life itself has become different.” Few now work along a strict ladder of school-job-pension bur rather confront a world of various opportunities, and those opportunities can come at almost any age. As a result, “the border between age groups is becoming less clearly defined.”

And that in turn means that children and adults are more similar than they were 50 years ago.

[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/09/in-soviet-times-russian-children-were.html]