Saturday, April 17, 2010

(Russian) rules for life

While waiting for my pupils in the orphanage the other day, I amused myself by looking at the bulletin board set up in that particular group.

Along with birthdays, awards, and other announcements, there was a list of rules displayed prominently in one of the sections.

I found the phrasing of the rules intriguing, as well as the juxtaposition of moral standards with rules meant to preserve order. Of course, the orphanage is a place for academic pursuits as well as a home, so it’s natural that classroom rules and rules relating to family life would be combined.

First, a sample of American classroom rules for comparison (found in a forum here):
1. Raise your hand.
2. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
3. Walk.
4. Treat people the way that you would like to be treated.
5. Follow directions.

The rules posted in the orphanage: (loosely translated)
1)    Respect yourself and others.
2)    Listen to your elders, for they will not lead you astray.
3)    Help the younger ones, who look to your example.
4)    Wash your hands before meals.
5)    Do not walk around indoors without changing your shoes or while wearing your outdoor coat.
6)    Strive to keep everything tidy.
7)    Don’t linger at school, so as not to worry the adults who are responsible for you.
8)    Be polite towards others.
9)    For safety’s sake, do not run in the hallways.
10)    Don’t wander aimlessly during homework time.
11)    Read books during your free time; it will benefit you in life.
12)    When leaving the grounds of the orphanage, don’t forget to write a notice.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing those; they are really remarkable. And thought-provoking. I think maybe we don't spend enough time tying rules to their reasons....putting "heart" behind them, so to speak. I am the sort of person who would be more apt to follow a rule that had a reason to it.

    #5 worries me; I'm in a coat right now. But, as I recall they don't keep indoor areas in Russia as FREEZING as they keep MY OFFICE. I cannot get warm.

  2. This is so interesting to look at!

    As someone who's spent time teaching in American public schools, it really is incredible how different American classroom etiquette is compared with Russian. Like Annie said, it's good to see rules listed with reasons.

    I love #2 and #3 on the Russian list, I think this needs to be emphasized more in America. I see so many teachers working hard to give students direction and focus in life, but many students stubbornly refuse to respect elders/authority. And it's so important for older children to recognize that they are setting an example for younger children.

  3. I like the values implied, but I'm not sure if I like them written as a "rule." Yes, the Bible commands us to love, but can you really require someone to have a certain attitude?

    I remember my high school instituting a "RESPECT" policy during my junior or senior year, and we all laughed at it. You can make me stay after school, but you can't change my attitude. Is it American culture? Russians often "respect" authority, but sometimes it is more out of fear or necessity than a genuine respect for someone.

    On the other hand, it is good to start young... and like I mentioned in the post, the orphanage is not only a place for schoolwork, but a home. So the adults can have a deep, parent-like relationship with the kids that enables them to instill values.

    Annie, I do not believe that Russians would encourage you to sit around shivering! They are normally very protective of one's health. However, it would be more recommended to take off your outer clothes and put on a sweater. As you said on your own blog, you have to "commit" to being in the building, and not walk around as though you are preparing to leave any minute!


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