Western Styles Infect Soviet Youth

Alienated from Himself. (By L. Mateto, Director of Secondary School No. 816)


Soviet educators were alarmed by signs of creeping western influences among their students. They were also wary of the harsh means of behavioral modifications employed by earlier generations of Soviet pedagogues, and were aware that strident struggles with the trend would only deepen it, and that the cause might lie deeper in Soviet culture. This concerned letter from a teacher reflects those considerations.

Original Source: Uchitel’skaia gazeta, June 13, 1972.

Moscow –At schools I have visited some of the older girls wear eye makeup and some boys have hair to their shoulders and wear super-mod trousers. If you make a comment they respond with, “This is what I like to wear. Each to his own taste. ‘ Some mamas and papas, too, maintain that their child’s appearance is his own business: They do riot stop to consider that youngsters sometimes go from trying on foreign fashions to trying on foreign ideas.

We teachers must protect young people from bad influences and vulgar tastes. It is not only proper behavior that we are inculcating, after all, but also civic virtue and patriotism.

How is this to be done? If we say, “Shape up and get your hair cut by tomorrow!” we may cow the pupil into obedience, but we will achieve a more lasting effect by giving tactful, persistent guidance in distinguishing good from bad. The influence of the collective at a Young Communist League meeting made an impact on one long-haired youth at our school.

I would also suggest that the school itself be kept cheerful and tidy, that school uniforms be more becoming, special emblems be devised to foster school spirit and deter pupils from wearing foreign patches, and more literature on the problem be published for teachers and parents.

Source: Current Digest of the Soviet Press, XXIV, 45/14 (1972).

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