1. Present students with several scenarios from the “situations” portion of the Schedule B Clinical Interviews:
A father tells his son that he will give him money for his studies and help him get a good education, but only under the condition that he will study the courses prescribed by the father. The son makes up his mind to discuss the matter with his father and the whole family. What will the son say and why? What will the father do and why?
A nine-year-old boy refuses to go to school; he says to his father than he is scared of the teacher who has often punished him for misconduct. What will the father do and why?
A man has asked a friend for a letter of recommendation. The friend feels he cannot honestly give him a good recommendation. Meanwhile the man appears in order to find out whether the letter has been sent. What will the friend do and why?
A person gets the impression that others are talking behind his back. It happened several times that when he entered the room the people stopped talking or changed the topic of their conversation. And again he is approaching a group of acquaintances of his and it seems to him that the talk stopped as soon as he approached them. What will this person do and why?
Answering from their own perspectives, have students respond to the questions individually or in small groups.
2. Share answers as a class. Ask students whether they all arrived at similar answers. If not, what might account for differences among their answers? Is it easy to predict how individuals in the same community might respond to these hypothetical scenarios? What factors shaped their answers to these questions?
3. Have students compare their own answers to those of Soviet citizens interviewed as part of the HPSSS. Here are some sample responses they might read:
Sample response number one
Sample response number two
Sample response number three
Sample response number four
To locate more responses, the class can use either the search function of the online archive (enter the questions above into the search box) or the full interview list . Students can then scroll to the Schedule-B interviews and click through to the section marked “situations” to find these questions and answers.
Ask students to read 3–5 responses to the questions from former Soviet citizens. Are all the answers the same? What similarities did they notice across the HPSSS interview answers? What differences did they find? What questions and ideas do these differences and similarities prompt about diversity within the Soviet experience?
Ask students to compare and contrast the interviewees’ answers with their answers and those of their classmates. Did they notice any similarities between their answers and those of the Soviet citizens? Did they notice any differences? Referencing the discussion from the start of class, what questions does this prompt regarding the potential of social policies to shape individual identity?
4. Beginning at minute 26:10, have students watch 10–20 minutes of Robyn Angley’s lecture “The Transformative State: The Intersection of Early Soviet Ideology and Culture.” In this clip Angley discusses various practices the Soviet state implemented in order to influence the beliefs and behaviors of Soviet citizens. After viewing the clip, ask students to reflect on what Soviet state leaders believed about their ability to shape individual identity. What values did state leaders seek to instill in Soviet citizens? In their reading of primary source interviews, do students see evidence of ways that the state may have influenced the values and worldviews of these interviewees? What evidence do they see of diverse worldviews amongst citizens? What might the sources of these differences be?