Yesterday, I had a History exam.
As I was studying for it late in the evening the day before the exam, something rather obvious and at the same time elusive struck me suddenly: the History book I was reading was written by TSU's History faculty teaching staff.
The reason it's obvious - or, was supposed to be so - is that our History teacher was among the writers of the book, of which he mentioned during the first History lecture. I knew of that fact somewhere deep in my mind but never made a connection until preyesterday: TSU's staff is qualified enough to publish their own textbooks! What's more, one of the writers of the textbook taught us History!
It's so impressive to me because, studying in KemSU (which is located in my hometown, Kemerovo), I've only ever seen such a thing once, at it was a mere booklet, so after the pressures of university studying I wouldn't pay much attention to it (it still left some impression on me, considering that I remember it still, four years after the fact). Here, in Tomsk, it's on a whole different scale: we're using textbooks written by our teacher. It is as if we're learning a craft from a person who made the instruments we work with - a direct connection between the craftsman and their work.
It reminds me of something I read about a while ago, about how today's work is disconnected. What's been meant by that is, back a century or two ago, one had direct contact with people who used their results: a smith, for example, would see the person who'd use the axe they made often enough for them to assert both a certain degree of trust in each other. "Hey, Bill, that axe you made - it fuckin' shattered!" - "Bullshit! I used fine steel I made with these hand you see before you. You sayin' I made a bad axe?" - "Hell, I dunno, but I tell you, it shattered!" - "The hell were you chopping with it, man? Lemme see the fuckin' tree".
Granted, those two are, perhaps, overly dirty on their mouths and of poor grasp of English grammar, but you see what mean from the conversation. The buyer would come, leave their review directly to the person responsible for the item they bought and, perhaps, leave with a better version made after their insightful comments. The article I read said that today's a disconnected era where one could make bad items and never directly receive a complaint that might have otherwise made them consider their craft and improve their process of production. I can't remember which article it was or where could one find it, sadly.
I was reminded of it earlier on, during a History workshop we had. We were discussing the First Russian Revolution (the one in 1905 that started the whole socialism shabang in the Russian Empire and eventually, through the revolutionary spirits of the people, led to the existence of USSR), and someone mentioned the fact that one revolutionary group was trying to style monarchy in Russia by the English standard (that is, citing the English variant of monarchism as their ideal). Our teacher thereafter told us about how what the revolutionairs (and we, by the extension of the stereotype) thought of the English monarchism was very different from the imagined reality. "It was by my mistake that the phrase was put into the textbook", our teacher said. "I then did some research on the matter and found out that - it turns out! - it's very different from what we here [in Russia] keep thinking of".
That left quite an impression on me, and I came to realize why: it was a craftsman sharing his experience in his craft with us, his customers, directly! How amazing is that?!
The final blow - if one's to use the phrase for events of such positive value - came from the textbook's cover. The front had an old imperial light-sepia photograph of the Tomsk University, built during the reigns of Alexander II and Nicholas I (started in 1878, finished in 1888); back then, the famous University Grov was barely bushes-high and the university itself had a cross on top. The back had - and this is what made my mind explode of awe - a decree by Alexander II's government, dated "May, 1878", ordering the beginning of building a university in the city of Tomsk. The textbook that I thought was alien (as in - non-local, coming from somewhere else) turned out to have such a deep and insightful connection to the university I study in!
TSU is great, and above is merely one of the cool facts I've learned about it so far.