Intellectual competitions among schools are rather frequent occurrences in Russia and former Soviet republics. Only the smartest kids are granted access to such intellectual Olympic Games.
Interesting incident happened in Latvia during one of such Games. One of the kids turned out to be too smart: he spotted more than 20! Grammatical mistakes in the actual assignments. Later, parents also got involved in this peculiar incident. Somehow, they managed to acquire the original and to their surprise, discovered only a few sentences in proper Russian language there. More so, it turned out that such grammatically wrong and illogical sentence structure within each assignment was simply misleading. Indeed, one must be “special” to complete all the assignments. The only question is: should one be an absolute genius or a complete idiot?
For instance, we would like to offer you a sample problem. Take a look at the following numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 17, 19, 23. Now, concentrate and mark a dividend, a divisor, DIVISION, and a remainder! Can you?! Well, very few of the young participants managed to come with correct answers. They simply guessed that the mysterious word “Division” referred to a mere common quotient.
Here is another math problem. However, it may be considered to be a word problem as well. Youngsters are presented with a drawing of a bus with numbered windows. The following is the original text of the problem (spelling has not been changed):
“The bus has 5 passenger seats—near the window. Everyone wanted to get the front seats, except Sasha. Peter didnotseat right before Sasha, but before Anya. Oleg said it was better in the middle. Olya got herself a seat so that she could tattle with both Olya and Sasha.” “Mark down the names of right children in corresponding windows.”
After spending considerable amount of time trying to understand the actual text, a 10-year-old has to solve the puzzle. Can a child perceive what the Latvian inarticulate teachers want from him/her?
The above assignments are pathetic indeed, not to mention poetry and Russian language.
Here is one more assignment offered to the kids. “Finish the sentence: “I think that trees are alive…” How can you finish this sentence? Take a look at this one for instance: “I think, forests provide people with very useful things…”
If a Russian student wrote an essay with the same amount of mistakes, he would have definitely failed. In this case however we have to deal with (supposedly) educated adults who write such assignments. How could such a thing happen in our country? I posed this question to several colleagues of mine. They came up with two rationalizations. According to some, Latvians decided such language was good enough for Russians. According to others, Latvians simply wanted to outsmart Russians. So what really happened?
Teachers from the city of Bauska turned out to be the authors of such gibberish. Head of the local methodical middle school association Daina Kadishevska explained that those were in fact Russians (without special philological education however) that helped with the assignment. Honestly, this is hardly believable. Ms. Kadishevska officially apologized for the mistakes in the text.
Well, well, what can we say? Our poor children… Another five years of such reformatory attempts and they will be fully devoured by the quagmire of illiteracy and stupidity of local educators. And in ten years, the country will have to harvest its mediocre specialists, untalented, and simply limited people. Perhaps, this was the precise goal Latvian government had in mind when they began their reforms against Russian schools in the country???