Sep 3, 2021
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How modern children differ from schoolchildren of the 80s

Modern children have extremely low motivation for successful studies. They DO NOT UNDERSTAND why they need to study well at all. Photo: Valery ZVONAREV

I, Igor Nikolaevich Gusev, served in Riga secondary school No. 17 from 1986 to 1994. He taught history, as well as social studies, psychology and logic (in those years, such disciplines were also experimentally practiced). He was a class teacher. I left school with my graduates, so my conscience is clear before them. A quarter of a century has passed, and last year I was asked to temporarily replace a sick historian in one of the schools. So, unexpectedly for myself, I once again plunged into this wonderful, extraordinary, monstrously unlucky school life, with all its advantages and disadvantages.

I had an enviable opportunity to compare my students – those of the past and the present, modern. This was especially curious, especially since the offspring of my former pupils were found among the new students. Comparison of fathers and children promised to be interesting!

It is believed that a good teacher has no favorites. All children are equally disgusting to him. I am a bad teacher … I love children very much and myself, being a modern dad, sincerely try to understand the new generation, young and unfamiliar. Children themselves are beautiful! There are just smart girls and sweethearts, with many, it seems to me, we have sincerely made friends. They were moved to the depths of their soul by the tears in their eyes when, after six months of our joint work, it was time for me to leave this hospitable school community. Thank you, my dears, I remember and love you … So is there a difference between the students of past years and the current generation of glorious idiots?


What catches the eye in modern school is that there are many obese children, especially girls. The reason for this, I believe, is not only unhealthy nutrition, but also the stresses in which children are immersed from the moment of birth. Often, a fat person gains excess weight precisely under the influence of constant nervous tension. This is a kind of protective reaction of the body. Children, when compared with previous generations, are generally very poorly developed physically. Lack of outdoor games.

I have never seen at breaks that girls play their age-old girls’ ropes, rubber bands, and boys play a ball. No Cossack robbers and saloons! In the best case, it is senseless bustle and hustle and bustle.

Nowadays teenagers hardly move during breaks. Take a look at this happy couple: the girl has a mobile phone in her hands. Photo: Elena SIKORSKAYA / GLOBAL LOOK PRESS

But more often than not – His Majesty the MOBILE! Forgetting everything in the world, not seeing anyone or anything, children poke their fingers at the screen. They play on their cell phones on the way to school, at recess, play in class, in the toilet, play on the way home. The beginning of a lesson for children is always a torment – after all, a malicious teacher demands to hide a mobile phone with an unfinished game! Children are angry, they are annoyed and think little about the lesson …


Modern children get tired very quickly, lose attention and concentration. I still remember the lessons of 45 minutes. But today they last 40, and even that is a lot! The modern student is practically inoperable after 20 minutes, he is no longer able to follow the teacher’s speech. Unmotivated hyperactivity manifests itself: he himself spins, fidgets, hands run around the desk, the child senselessly shifts pencils-rulers from place to place. Suddenly, in the midst of the lesson, he picks up the bag and starts digging noisily in it, and then puts it back in its place. I am interested: “Sasha, what were you looking for?” He smiles shyly, blushes, shrugs … He doesn’t know himself. Such “Sash” – half a class.


Modern children from birth assimilate a lot of information, but all this information, as a rule, has little to do with everyday life and, of course, has nothing to do with history. I talk in the lesson about peasant labor, about slash-and-burn agriculture. Here I understand that children are not guided at all, what a plow is, why a harrow is needed, how they sow and grow bread! They clap their eyes in bewilderment.

In the old days, Soviet children received a lot of information from cartoons. Remember? Cats and dogs baked bread, Foka did a jack of all trades forging horseshoes in the smithy, characters from folk tales from Soviet cartoons worked hard and hard. In modern cartoons, various superheroes do not work at all. They have no time to work – they “save the world”!

Previously, curious people always gathered around the teacher. Photo: TASS photo chronicle


Children do not read, that is, absolutely! Generally!!! Successful history teaching is necessarily based on those historical adventure novels that a teenager “swallowed” by high school. Remember, in Vysotsky: “So you read the necessary books as a child!” Now they don’t read any books … And here I stand in front of the class, all so handsome and arrogant, telling about the history of France in the 17th century and naively asking: “Do you remember how d’Artagnan comes to Paris?” And I see the huge puzzled eyes of children!

It turns out that out of the four middle classes, only THREE people have read the novel “The Three Musketeers” !!! But I am so old that I still remember how literally EVERYONE read this work, because it was considered shameful and indecent not to read it! Already a general rule of the modern school: if a student responds well and boldly, if he studies successfully, then a reading child. Alas, but such unique ones are regrettably few …


Children are depressingly pragmatic, with almost no romantic impulses. They have little interest in anything other than what relates to their “personal consumption.” I have a small collection of items brought back from archaeological expeditions. In the old years, demonstrating in history lessons the fragments of ancient Greek amphorae, the tools of labor of primitive man, thousands of years old ceramics with fingerprints of a long decayed potter, I enjoyed watching the burning eyes of children who passionately looked at all these archaeological wonders, pulled them out of their hands, bombarded me with questions …

Now the attempt to show my collection to the students aroused only a polite interest in them (some!). Today they are NOT INTERESTED! The hack of the Stone Age that I handed down through the ranks, many, without even considering, passed on.

I’m used to the fact that after the lesson a flock of inquisitive eccentrics is bound to gather. This is not possible today.


There were always dissidents in every class. These are, as a rule, children-personalities, they are special, extraordinary. They could spoil the nerves of the teacher, they could argue and disagree, defending their opinion. Such students were always scolded, “they tried to put them in their place,” their parents were often summoned to the director. But clever teachers loved such children in their hearts. These were PERSONS with their own opinions.

In the modern school, there is also such a dissident type. The only difference is that the current “dissident” spoils your nerves and becomes clever not because he “fights for justice.” He sarcifies JUST ON THE FUN! He has no special opinion of his own. This is initially an intelligent, extraordinary child with alas … an extremely meager knowledge base, but with great ambitions. He wants to argue, only there is nothing to argue about, there is not enough knowledge. Therefore, he is simply daring.


Modern children have extremely low motivation for successful studies. They DO NOT UNDERSTAND why they need to study well at all. It sounds crazy, but it is so … Faced with this amazing phenomenon, I set up an experiment: I put textbooks on the desks, asked a few questions and told the students to just FIND AND WRITE out ready-made answers from the textbooks! In previous years, I would not have dreamed of such a profanation of the educational process in a nightmare …

The experiment gave startling results. Many students

DIDN’T FIND the answers in the paragraph I indicated. It turned out to be an overwhelming task for them to read the text and write out the ready-made answers! Many did not even try to do this. They were not even tempted by a good grade. Ten minutes before the end of the lesson, leaflets with several randomly selected phrases were handed over to me, while their owners, waiting for the call, simply sat, furtively under their desks, playing on their mobile phones.

I tried to investigate this phenomenon. One gets the impression that many children have a firmly rooted stereotype that everything in life will somehow come to them and develop by itself. Maybe the point is in these stereotypes of consciousness?

Looking closely at the cartoons and movies that our children watch, which go to cinemas today, you can see that many of them have a certain common outline. A certain boy (girl) lives – an outright loser and a loser. He (she) has no special abilities, no special talents. He is poor, ugly and lonely. And suddenly it turns out that he (she) is the Chosen One! He came to this incarnation to SAVE THE WORLD! In an incredible, magical way, our yesterday’s loser suddenly acquires special talents, abilities and becomes a SUPERHERO! He gets everything – fame, honor, love, friendship and success!

Note that in the old, “soviet” cinema, the hero, in order to find himself, had to work hard, study, overcome difficulties and his own laziness. In the Soviet cartoon, nobody got anything for nothing. Only through LABOR and overcoming laziness, cowardice, selfishness did an ordinary character become a Hero. He did not turn into a miracle, he did himself! In modern cartoons, the hero, as a rule, acquires his abilities just like that, by magic, or, at worst, by eating a special pill (then this is no longer fantasy, but science fiction). Perhaps this stereotype imposed by modern cinema hides the fact that many children are simply waiting for a gift from fate, not wanting to put any effort into it?

Of course, the school still has hobby groups. It’s just that interests have changed a lot. Photo: Yuri DYAKONOV / TASS newsreel


Modern children are very fond of “downloading rights”, because from the first grade they are carefully introduced to the “rights of the child”. If only they remembered their duties as well …


I was shocked by the almost complete lack of disgust in my current students. They sit quietly and lie right on the floor in the hallway and on the stairs. Without a special bag, they put their dirty sneakers from gym class directly into the bag, interspersed with textbooks and notebooks. They drop the cookies on the floor, and then pick them up and eat them calmly …

However, perhaps these are general European tendencies, and I am an old mossy conservative. In Europe, I saw enough of decent-looking girls, peacefully relaxing on the floor of a public toilet (unisex toilet), on cheerful Frenchmen, calmly laying a freshly bought baguette on a car seat or on a public bench. I saw a dapper German who dropped his cigarette on the pavement, who picked it up and calmly lit it … Maybe that’s how it should be. Well, her, this disgust …


I have always tried to awaken in my students the striving for a High spiritual ideal, to cultivate respect for the spiritual values ​​of our imperfect world. It seems to me that every normal person should have a High Dream in life. During my recent school practice, children shared their thoughts. They were different, but I was bitterly touched by the words of one boy from the 6th grade, who sadly said: “I dream of studying in my native language …” Such is the High Dream.

In conclusion, I want to note that I do not criticize OUR children at all. It is not their fault, but their misfortune is that they are forced to enter life in this difficult, unkind time. And the special role and special task of parents is to help them with all their might. Even now, give me a normal textbook, a normal well-thought-out curriculum and do not interfere with my work – I am sure that miracles can be done with these children! But who will give …

Igor Gusev

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