“Today’s younger generation will be unable to preserve our culture.” These were the words found engraved on a clay pot uncovered recently in the ruins of ancient Babylon. This particular historic artifact was over 3000 years old, and it is witness to the fact that contradictions and continuity between generations have been topics of discussion since time immemorial.

Debating students from IG Skolkovo and Letovo School. Foto Credit: Aleksander Gakhov, IG Skolkovo.

Over the last few months many important and interesting events have taken place at IG Skolkovo. While participation has mainly consisted of secondary and high school students from the Gymnasium, it has included students from other schools and representatives from organizations outside Skolkovo as well. Topics touched upon at these events have gone beyond typical school subject matter, and so we thought it might be interesting to hear the reactions of our students. What has excited them the most? And how do they see themselves on the backdrop of generations past?

 “The most interesting discussion topics have been those that, in one way or another, affect everyone; those where you can apply your personal experience. More than anything else, these are questions of a social nature - from leadership and social ratings to ecology and geopolitics,” explained Olesya Utkina, history and social studies teacher and Student Council faculty advisor at IG Skolkovo. A clear example of this might be the topic chosen for the recent debate with students from Letovo School - “Social ratings as an effective instrument of societal development.” At the event students also shared their critiques of comments by Swedish student and eco-activist Greta Tunburg to the UN General Assembly, highlighting what they saw as populist overtones.

On 11 November Gymnasium students took part in a “business breakfast” with Absolute Investment Group’s general director Aleksander Svetakov. Questions from students touched in part on professional self-realization and charity work. Specifically, 9th grade student Bogdan Storozhenko asked about charity work as a method of raising a company’s financial rating. In response Mr. Svetakov explained that although charity work can be effective for developing business connections and networks, its most obvious benefit is the heightened level of job satisfaction that results from such activity. Another Gymnasium student participant agreed, adding that this is exactly how students who participate in volunteer activities in the school feel.

Generally speaking, questions connected to entrepreneurship are quite common among our student body. And receiving competent and insightful answers is a real possibility when you engage with experts from the Skolkovo Innovation Centre! At the 2019 Open Innovation Forum in October students had just this opportunity when they met with representatives of the Skolkovo Foundation. The questions posed by students then were very practical and centered around how to develop new business ideas.

Of course, one of the “hottest” topics among students, teachers and parents has always been how to choose one’s future path. If we reduce the opinions of our upperclassmen to the lowest common denominator, so to speak, then they believe that one’s future profession must be connected to one’s interests and must be financially rewarding. Even so, the priority for each student will be likely be finding a sphere of interest that not only appeals to them, but one where their school marks are also high.

“I will choose my future profession in a subject field where I have interest and where it is easiest to study and succeed,” explained 10th grade student Nikita Senkevich.

“It is impossible to achieve any real success, including financial success, in an area or field that you have no interest in,” added 11th grade student Maria Boldova.

 And although many belonging to this generation prefer online videos to the pages of a book, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have very broad interests indeed. One might say that it is simply a question of a different format and a greater number of sources. Because of this, when you talk to these bright young minds, you want to believe that they will not only be able to preserve our culture, but add to it as well!