It is easier to forbid than to create, to make something new. This might be a reason some "zealous" leaders forbid even pronouncing the word "religion" in the schools. But what can you do with the history of Russia? How can one understand the literary and cultural heritage of the country apart from religion? Studying the lives of famous scientists and thinkers of Russia and reading the works of our classic writers who were believers, students learn the values that have been the moral foundation of our society for more than ten centuries.
These values were recognized as true even in the years of Soviet rule, but they were considered the values of Communist ethics. In an essay, one of my students quoted a sentence that her grandma had repeatedly used since the student's childhood. The girl was amazed when I showed her it was a verse from the Bible. She never realized that her grandma had taught her a Bible verse. I have seen the same quote on a classroom wall, but without reference to its source.
Reaping the bitter fruits of ideology that are still being planted in the school, many teachers are afraid that religion could become another ideology forced down from the "top." Yet more and more teachers are coming to understand that religious values are critical in the moral upbringing of students. Without waiting for the official introduction of the course in schools, teachers are introducing students to the laws that their great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers lived by. They teach them to love, to forgive, and to be compassionate.
It is time to gather stones together.
Svetlana Kuleshova is the head of the English Department at Alternativa Gymnasium, Krasnodar, Russia.
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© 2001 East-West Church and Ministry Report