Any person is a professional in three areas: Football, politics and parenting

Irina Alksnis

Few government initiatives evoke such public enthusiasm as the announced plans for Russia’s withdrawal from the Bologna process. Of course, calls immediately followed to abandon the USE system at the same time, and Rosobrnadzor, which stated that these issues were not related, was subjected to fierce criticism.
The old joke says that any person is a professional in three areas: football, politics and parenting (and education is an integral part of it). Now the situation has worsened, since the domestic education system (both modern and outdated) has acquired an incredible number of myths and even conspiracy theories.
The situation is similar to the one in which our Central Bank is located. For almost a decade of tough confrontation between Russia and the West, he pulled the domestic economy out of several most dangerous crises that threatened a total collapse of the system and a catastrophe for the country. And over the past three months, the Central Bank has performed a miracle. But in spite of everything, many people, including those on federal TV channels, accuse the management of the bank, headed by Elvira Nabiullina, as they did fifteen years ago, of betrayal, working for Soros, the West and the behind-the-scenes world government.
In the same way, in the Bologna system and the Unified State Examination, a significant part of Russian society sees the destructive work of our geopolitical opponents in destroying the system of domestic education, the decay of our youth and the destruction of the Russian academic and scientific and technical school. The arguments are very different: both nostalgic (“it used to be better”), and frankly delusional (again, about the insidious plans of the reptilians), and quite rational, supported by scientific research, which actually testify to unfavorable trends in the cognitive and psychological state of modern youth.
It is not surprising that people see a simple way out of this situation – to cancel all innovations and return to “the best Soviet education system in the world.” The trouble is that this solution is as obvious as it is wrong. And not just wrong, but threatening with extremely serious consequences.
There are many reasons for this, but I would like to focus on two.
First. In its heyday, the Soviet education system was indeed the best in the world, only this heyday took place many decades ago. Already in the 1980s, it everywhere bore signs of decline, corruption and inadequacy to realities. In particular, then, stories were heard all around about how talented children without “connections” were flunked at entrance exams at prestigious universities, en masse accepting “blatniks”. With the collapse of the USSR, this process took on an avalanche-like character, and widespread bribery in higher education became a byword, but it all began long before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
At its core, the truly remarkable Soviet system carried vulnerabilities that eventually degenerated into vices that destroyed it. Stepping on a rake, reviving this system, does not look like a very wise decision. And the second circumstance is the problems with today’s youth.
The trouble is that in many cases it is not entirely correct to call them problems, but rather features of development that reflect changes – technological, social, cultural, and so on – in the world.
For example, with the current availability of information, human memory is changing: it does not make much sense to remember facts, you need to remember where to find them. Proponents of the traditional approach are sounding the alarm about this, since it is the knowledge stored in human memory throughout the history of our biological species that has been the cornerstone of its intellectual development and education. But even if we return to the ancient system of education, completely built on oral presentation and memory, this will not solve the problem in any way – it will only show the inadequacy of the authors of such an initiative.
The situation is similar with the notorious “clip thinking”, the inability of the younger generation to concentrate on one subject for a long time or unwillingness to read books. Alas, this is not the fault of the Bologna system, but simply a feature of the world in which we live – with its frantic information flows, technological progress and large-scale social and cultural changes that permeate every minute of our lives. And banning TikTok will not help here.
In general, one can discuss the cognitive and psychological characteristics of new generations for a long time, but they will always be caused not by someone’s malicious will to destroy the human race, but by the radical changes that our civilization is undergoing right now.
In such a situation, it is pointless, useless and even dangerous to try to act by methods that were outdated thirty years ago.
So it is possible and, probably, even necessary to abandon the Bologna system – as a non-specialist, I do not presume to judge. The main thing is that something new should come in its place, corresponding to modern realities in all their complexity, inconsistency and problematic nature. Because the slogan “Back to the past!” which is heard too often in this regard! threatens to turn into much greater threats for the country, which is now.

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