Something To Think About: A World’s Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the U.S.  However, I would like to offer a post for a World’s Thanksgiving.  I would like to offer a tribute to Stanislav Petrov, a Russian, whose calm, rational thinking prevented WWIII in 1983.

An anti-ballistic warning system issued several alarms, indicating that the U.S. had fired a missile towards Russia.  Petrov kept his cool and reported the warnings as false alarms.  Later, it turned out that a cloud clover had caused a malfunction in the system.

Stanislav Petrov is no longer with us, but we can be grateful and proud that such a man was there at such a critical time.  Let the whole world give thanks to this Russian hero.

Surprise! Russian Humor: The Encore

Here are some more samples of Russian wit at work:

A teacher asked his student why he didn’t do his homework.

The student asked him:

–Did you correct my dictation?

The teacher answered:

–No.  I corrected students’ dictations from the other classes.

The student responded:

–Well, I did the homework for my other teachers.

A boy’s mother told him that if he got a tattoo, he could just get out of the house.

His father told him that such an opportunity doesn’t happen very often and that he should make the best use of it.

A patient was at the psychologist’s office:

–At work, it seems that nobody understands me;  all I see are dull eyes, indifferent looks and a total lack of desire to listen to me.

The psychologist asked his patient:

–What do you do for a living?

The patient replied:

–I teach quantum physics.

A daughter was begging her relatives for a baby brother or a baby sister.

Her mother tried to explain:

–Understand, precious, that Daddy is on a trip and he won’t return for several days.  Until Daddy gets back, we can’t have a baby.

But the little girl retorted:

–Just the opposite!  We’ll have the baby right now, and when Daddy returns, we’ll tell him:  Surprise!”

And A Little More Russian Humor

The following examples of Russian humor were taken from the Russian magazine, Laughter All-Around.

1.  –I heard that you decided to back to your husband.

— Yes.  I could no longer stand to see him enjoying himself so much!

2.  Little Elsie was finishing her prayer.

–And one more thing, Dear God.  Please send some clothes to those poor naked girls that Daddy looks at in his magazine.

3.  –Just imagine what a catastrophe!  Yesterday my three-year-old son threw fifty pages of my new novel into the fire!

–What!  He read it already?

4.  –Mommy!  Why did the wolf eat the grandmother instead of Little Red Riding Hood?

–Go to sleep, my precious one…Maybe he wanted dried fruit.

5.  A married couple was taking a stroll through the forest.  The wife says:

—  What a wonderful spot to rest and have a snack!

—  You know.  You may be right.  Fifty million ants can’t be wrong.

6.  From a theater review:

–Art demands victims and the hall was soon filled with them.

7.  A wife, who had just gone fishing with her husband, speaks to her friend:

–It turns out I did everything wrong!  I spoke too loud.  I didn’t bait the hook properly.  I didn’t cast the line in the right place.  I didn’t get a strike the right way.  And what’s more:  I caught more fish than he did!

When France Meets Russia, It’s A Laughing Matter

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered famous French actor Gerard Depardieu a Russian passport.  This was in response to the actor’s rage over the French government’s plan to raise taxes for those with high incomes.  The French actor called Russia a great democracy, and went to Mordovia, his new homeland.  Depardieu is scheduled to play Rasputin in an upcoming film.  Among Russians, the Frenchman’s arrival produced a spate of anecdotes and much laughter.  I offer some samples:

1.  Last year I asked Santa Claus to make Gerard Depardieu my compatriot.  Who knew that the old man would take me seriously?

2.  Depardieu began to think a 75% French tax wasn’t so bad after what he had to pay for his hotel in Sochi and for skiing in the Red Field.

3.  “Ivan, did you hear that the Frenchman Depardieu has arrived?”  ”  200 years ago the  French stuck in their noses and learned there was absolutely nothing here.”

4.  “Mr. President,  why did you give Depardieu a Russian passport?  After all, he’s a Frenchman!”  “What do you mean he’s a Frenchman?  He’s a genuine ‘new Russian’.”(a very rich Russian)

5.  Last year there was a flood of protests concerning immigrants.  “As if we didn’t have enough Tadzhiks, Uzbeks and people from Azerbaijan.  Now, the French are pushing through.  What do they think, that Moscow is made of rubber?”

6.  Russian nationalists have a new slogan:  “Suitcase, railway station, France!”

7.  Russian patriots will walk in T-shirts embroidered with the Smolensk highway, which Napoleon used to escape.  They will hold up a road sign:  Mister Depardieu, France 2800 kilometers.

The Circles Of Sukhomlinsky By Nata Krylova, Part 2.

Sukhomlinsky’s ideas are from the Second Circle:  1.  The main educator’s skill is the ability to feel the inner world of kids.  The main task for the educator is to teach a child to feel another’s heart;  2.  Learning is part of a child’s spiritual life.  3.  School is the heart of four domains:  the Motherland, the humane, the book, and the native word.  4.  The educator and the child are connected by heartfelt threads.  Sukhomlinsky uses the following concepts as key-words:  spiritual community, heart, deep love, many-sided emotional attitudes, attachment to the child.  That is the OTHER LINE of concepts, different than that used by scholars, who consider research problems only on the first level!

The Third Circle:  Teachers’/Kids’ Community.  In the last years of his life and after his death, Sukhomlinsky enters into the Third Circle;  the spreading of his ideas and growing popularity.  The lines of like-minded educators grow.  We can talk now about the time he lives in as a Historical Circle, in the same way we talk about “Pushkin and his Circle/Surrounding,” or “Shakespeare and his Circle/Surrounding.”

The seeds were sown.  Many teachers followed Sukhomlinsky’s lead.  There was a time for Pre-reformation.  The school reforms and the education in the middle of the 80s had begun.  The new conception of “Educators for Collaboration” was published, summarizing all that had been done in teachers’ Humane Community after Sukhomlinsky’s death.  That community has maintained a connection with the kids’ community in their schools.

The Fourth Circle:  Common World Space.  It is possible that there are the same or similar circles for the development of  educational ideas in various countries.  At the intersection of the 20th and 21st centuries, we have a real opportunity to bring together humanist educational ideas and values of different cultures, including Sukhomlinsky’s ideas.  It doesn’t mean that those ideas will become the same.  It means that educators can enter into the common spiritual space for the upbringing of kids in the Second and Third Circles and there is more which each teacher can give his/her heart to children.(I Give my Heart to Children was the title of one of Sukhomlinsky’s last works.)

Vasilij Sukhomlinskij explores a field with his student.

Vasilii Sukhomlinsky explores a field with his student.

Michael Parciak Speaks About Janusz Korczak And Children’s Rights, Part 1.

In 1997, we at MEI had planned a Janusz Korczak Symposium, which did not take place due to problems with my health.  The previous year, we had acquainted educators with the work of Vasilii Sukhomlinsky in an effort to bring teachers and theorists from Russia, Ukraine and the U.S. closer together.  We chose Sukhomlinsky, and later, Korczak, because their pioneering work coincided with our motto:  Nothing is more important than the education of a child–heart, mind, and spirit.  Although plans for the Korczak Symposium had to be canceled, I was fortunate enough to contact many proponents of Korczak’s seminal work for children.  One of the people I contacted was Michael Parciak from Germany, the Chief Architect of Korczak City on the Internet.  What happened to this project, I was unable to discover.  Also, I could not find Michael Parciak.  However, I did locate an article he had written for MEI in May-June 1997 and I felt I should share some of it with you, because it contains interesting information concerning Janusz Korczak.

…The children’s court and the children’s newspaper… were important parts of Korczak’s philosophy of education in integrating  the children into all the important decisions, and demonstrating the relation between the granted rights and the required responsibilities.  The newspaper was used also for spelling practice and an exercise in developing one’s own opinions.  The children’s court was a steady exercise toward developing one’s own feelings for justice and social responsibility.  The judges were equipped with easy texts on common law to enable them to reach a just decision.  It was similar to the Napoleonic Code, which is still the basis of Polish laws, but it had one addition:  the right to forgive and to prefer forgiving more than punishment.

From the preamble of the text:

In case somebody has done wrong, it is better to forgive than to punish.  In case the incident happened as a result of inexperience, the subject will now know better.  In case the incident happened with knowledge, the subject will be more careful in the future… but the court must protect the shy from the aggressive, and the careful from the apathetic and lazy.

The court is not justice itself, but its goal is to achieve justice.  It is not truth, but its goal is the truth.  Judges might make mistakes.  Sometimes they might punish an action that they have committed themselves.  But it is a disgrace if a judge forces an unjust decision.

The court had to be dissolved for four weeks, because several aggressive kids did sabotage it.  When the court was reactivated there were new requirements.  The Premium Court would consist of two children and one adult for a three month term.  And children now had the right to accuse adults.(More in another post.)