What Soviet-era schools were like: crowds of clones and many "don'ts"

Yulia PoteriankoNews
A fashionable teenager in a Soviet school could be seriously bullied

There is a persistent myth about the allegedly extremely high quality of education in the USSR. However, if you dig deeper, you will find that its essence was the standardized upbringing of children, not the development of their abilities and individual talents.

This conclusion was reached by Belarusian blogger Maksim Mirovich, who studies and analyzes the Soviet experience. He has collected seven prohibitions that were in effect in the schools of the Union. Now they seem like real savagery.

Bright hair, makeup, piercings

Modern schoolchildren feel free to express themselves through their appearance, even in schools where they wear uniforms. Children in the USSR were forbidden to do so. They had to conform to the image of Soviet schoolchildren. The ban on piercings even made its way into the movie ACCA. In the movie, the main character named Bananan is taken to prison and put in a "pressure hut" with a criminal just because he had an earring in his ear and refused to take it off. These prejudices were abandoned only at the beginning of perestroika.

Long hair for boys

Boys with long hair caused a separate, sharply negative attitude among teachers and school administrators. Even a Beatles haircut was considered a violation. At best, such a teenager faced a friendly trial, and at worst, he could be forcibly cut.

Ballpoint pens

Even in the early post-Soviet years, one could encounter this absurd ban in schools. It is still not clear where it came from. Some teachers said that ballpoint pens prevented the development of beautiful handwriting, while others claimed that writing with them distorted posture. Some say that they were frowned upon for the same reason as jeans and chewing gum – they were considered a sign of the Western lifestyle.

Short skirts

Although the mini-skirt fashion was all the rage in the seventies, schools fought against such skirts. It got to the point where in some schools, headmasters would meet girls with a ruler in the morning and measure their skirt length. If the distance from the knee to the edge of the skirt seemed too long to the head teacher, the girl was sent home to change. They were not convinced even by the argument that children grew up over the years and the uniforms simply became too small for them.


Nowadays, it's hard to find a student who would wear anything but sneakers to class. But in the USSR, such shoes outside the gym were called a sign of an "empty hip life" and even "stylist". You could even get kicked out of class for wearing sneakers, especially those with Velcro, which were fashionable in the eighties. However, there were exceptions to these rules. Soviet-made sneakers could be allowed.

Chewing gum

Chewing gum as a phenomenon was banned in the USSR until 1976. People who loved it were ridiculed, caricatures were drawn of them, and propaganda videos were made. Nevertheless, young people were delighted with this product – they were ready to pay huge sums of money for a decent chewing gum. In the last years of the Soviet Union's existence, this ban was eased, and Soviet factories even began to produce their gum. But it remained banned at school until the very end.

Karate and bodybuilding classes

There are many versions of why martial arts sections and gyms were banned in the USSR. But the police were always searching for such underground groups and arresting their members and coaches. Naturally, teenagers were doubly interested in the forbidden sports. They learned to train on their own and reproduced the movements of actors from martial arts movies during yard games.

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