22 March 2006

Revolution, Education, and Other Interesting Topics with the Law Students

I had a nice chat with the law students yesterday- the first time in a few weeks because of holidays and other things that came up. The students who have been coming since we started have improved a lot in their ability to speak and understand English. It is fascinating to talk to them and hear their questions.

I started off by asking them about celebrating the revolution. Nearly all weren't interested in celebrating it. They talked about the same things that have been reported in plenty of other places- that it was a victory for the looters more than anything else and that real change hasn't happened. Bakiev should have dissolved the Kenesh and instituted some real constitutional reforms (the referendum is now apparently only going to be able the death penalty, which means it won't be a referendum on constitutional reform at all). They weren't aware that the Kenesh voted against celebrating the revolution on Friday.

One student did say that she likes Bakiev because he cares about the people. She didn't think celebrating the revolution was a bad idea. The students generally agreed that it is too soon to know if the revolution was a good thing. If people think it was after 10 years, then celebrating it might be a better idea. But for now, a year later and no changes, it's not worth celebrating.

They did say that the one thing that was worth celebrating was that the voice of the people was heard in the revolution. This even is questionable, but I do undoubtedly get the impression that the people of Kyrgyzstan wouldn't allow a leader like Karimov or Niyazov to take power. And if that is really the case, that is worth celebrating.

They had all kinds of questions today about a variety of topics from religion to the death penalty to immigration and international politics. One student asked whether I thought the American system or the Russian/Kyrgyz system was better. I tried to be as polite as I could, but one reason that we're homeschooling is because I am thoroughly unimpressed with the school system here. I told them that I think the American system is better because university students have choices and there is less corruption (I don't doubt there is corruption in American universities, but there is no comparison). I also said that I think it is important for professors and teachers to ask the students for their opinions and allow them to disagree. If you're never allowed to question authority, even in school, how will you ever dare to try to effect changes in your government?

There should be a new post on the student blog tomorrow. There's always a bit of a delay because we don't have a floppy disk drive at home, but it should be up by Thursday morning in the US.

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