I have been learning how to read scientific Russian, and my reading material is the Soviet high school math textbook Algebra and Beginning Analysis, (1976), edited by Kolmogorov. (I've seen the title also translated as Algebra and Elements of Analysis). The Russian title is Алгебра и Начала Анализа. This book was for grade 9 in the Russian system. I hope what follows will give something to compare when discussing math education in the USA.(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

First, to remove any political connotations, I will say "Russian" and not "Soviet." Second, I am not making any political statements. My concern is for education. I invite any forum members who have a first-hand knowledge of the Soviet high school to suggest corrections.

To provide some background information: the Russian schools were on a 4-3-3 system, meaning 4 years of primary, 3 years of middle school, and 3 years of high school. First grade started at age 7. The first thing to notice is that in 10 years of pre-university education, much more was taught in math than in the American system, which lasts 12 years, and teaches far less. (I have read that the Russians added another year sometime in the 1980s.)

Also, AFAIK every standard Russian school had the same curriculum. Of course not every student graduated. Over the years, more efforts were being made to have better opportunities aside from university preparation. I believe there were special schools if you had a talent in some area, but I don't know the details.

AFAIK there was no shortage of qualified STEM teachers. Apparently teachers were respected and even honored. I don't know about the pay. There was discipline, but that did not mean corporal punishment, which was outlawed.

Now on to the textbook. The cover measures 22 x 14.5 cm. It is hardcover, but the cover is very lightweight. I am impressed by this combination of light weight and durability. There are 222 pages. It is very comfortable to carry around and hold in one hand. I don't know about other Russian textbooks, but if they were all this size and weight, then kids could carry around a small backpack full of their books for the day, and not suffer as American kids do today with their overloaded backpacks.

The price, which is printed on the back cover, is 25 kopecks. 100 kopecks makes a ruble. The exchange rate was approximately 1 USD = 0.63 rubles = 63 kopecks. So 25 kopecks = 40 cents US. There were 10 and 15 kopeck coins, so one of each would have paid for this textbook. AFAIK the average salary for a construction worker was about $200 per month, and a loaf of bread cost 30 cents US. Of course prices were fixed, and the emphasis was on making the staples very cheap. (I got the exchange rate and the other information about wages and prices from a website. I don't vouch for them. Maybe someone who lived there can verify.)

I am busy now, but I will post lots of information about the content, and some images I scanned from the book, in a follow-up post later today. But I wanted to start with the above information, because it already invites contrast with the US textbooks of today.

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# Russian Mathematics Textbook

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