Since late February, Russian teachers have been receiving methodological guidance from the Ministry of Education with instructions on how to write propaganda posts on social media in support of the Russian army, The Insider found out. For nearly two months, school principals have been requiring teachers to make screenshots of their posts for their reports to superiors.
The posts must be accompanied by the hashtags #Zamir (for peace), #ZaPresidenta (for the president), #svoikhnebrosaem(we don't abandon our own), as well as photos of people with posters in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the so-called «special operation» in Ukraine. The texts themselves include multiple instances of the words »peace» and «justice,» like for example on the page of one of the teachers, Valentina Goncharova: «Under the flag of a great country, our president consistently and clearly defends Russia's interests and directs his authority to strengthen security in the world, to comply with international law, and to protect the independence of other states. We and the president are for peace and justice.»
Some teachers from the Lipetsk and Belgorod regions accompany the postings they are required to make on the VKontakte social network with photos of Putin and his quotes and words of gratitude to United Russia. Similar posts on Russian social media can be found on the pages of teachers from Moscow, the Moscow Region, and Chuvashia.
As it follows from the guidelines reviewed by The Insider, the key points in the posts should be as follows: that the special operation was inevitable, that Russia did not start the war, but is ending it since the war in Donbass has been going on for eight years. Teachers were also required to mention that Ukrainian civilians were not suffering and were safe, that the Russian army was only destroying the enemy's military infrastructure, and that all military personnel, both Russian and Ukrainian, treated each other with respect. The Ministry of Education asks teachers to label as fake and contest any information to the contrary, by checking its reliability only against the public page of the Ministry of Defense on Telegram. The guidelines have separate sections with recommendations for social networking moms, opinion leaders, heads of organizations, patriotic athletes, public figures and entrepreneurs. The latter are asked to write that the Western sanctions don't work, that no one will disconnect Russia from SWIFT, since Western partners themselves need to pay for gas.
Child psychologist and teacher Alexander Kolmanovskyanswered The Insider's question about the way in which the situation affects a child's psyche and what parents should do in a situation where children are exposed to propaganda and Z-symbols. According to Kolmanovski, you cannot put a child at risk and force them to tell the truth as they are left alone with an «angry dragon» in the form of the school administration and a large number of »pro-government classmates» who support the war:
Unfortunately, a child has to be given a truthful explanation: «You know, we're almost under occupation. We deal with this situation in such and such manner, but, unfortunately, neither you nor we can speak about it.
The psychologist acknowledged there is a risk for a child to be exposed to school propaganda and to become susceptible to falsehoods and deception:
Both the child and the adult, who are buying it, they are shutting off a very important tuning pitch in their own heads. And so, in the future they will not be very discerning, nor very accurate in determining the sincerity of their interlocutor. And they will not really listen to themselves: am I really saying what I think, what I feel inside, or am I unwittingly adjusting to the overall attitude?
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, various patriotic history lessons have been held in Russian schools. On February 28, teachers received teaching guides that justify the need for a «military operation» against a «fascist state.» The lesson materials offer ready-made answers to schoolchildren's questions in a propagandistic manner. The Insider has reported on how such lessons take place and spoke with teachers about the pressure, teacher ethics, and how children react to what's going on.