Exhibit in details: automaton "Little schoolboy in dunce cap"
Today, on Knowledge Day, we present a musical automaton from the museum collection section "Amusing Automata" — "Little schoolboy in a dunce cap", created by the French artisan Gustave Vichy circa 1900.
The automaton features a figurine of a little boy in school uniform sitting on wooden bench for the delinquent. This funny figure, popular in the French culture at the end of the 19th century, depicts a character from the children's book “Jean Who Grumbles and Jean Who Laughs” by the French writer of Russian descent, Countess of Ségur (born Sophie Rostopchina, 1799-1874), written in 1865.
Beginning of the school year was not always on the first of September. Moreover, in the past, the simultaneous beginning of the school year was not statutorily defined — each educational institution set its own date. By the beginning of the 18th century in the Russian Empire, the school year could start at the end of August, in the middle of September or even in October. Rural schools began teaching children to read and write on the 1st of December on the day of the prophet Nahum memory.
In our days the school year beginning is different in all countries. In some countries, the school year starts in spring instead of fall. In Japan, for example, educational institutions are opening on the 1st of April — just as the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. In Austria, the first school day falls on the first Monday in September. And in Germany, educational process can begin either at the end of August or in mid-September — the date is determined annually by the administration of each federal state. In Germany, however, there are some unusual traditions on this day: senior schoolchildren organize a festive concert for first graders and it is they, not teachers, who get flowers and gifts. German first graders receive a Schultüte ("school cone") from their parents. There sweets and presents inside. The tradition was established in Germany in 1810. The 1st of September in the United States is not a holiday, and the school year may start in August in different schools. The end of the school year a school can determine independently. In the Czech Republic it is not customary to hold line-ups and other festive events on the first day of the school year. However, there are no classes on the first day and fun concerts with clowns are organized for the first graders. In the Netherlands, school year starts at different days in different regions, but it is usually either the last Monday in August or the first Monday in September. In addition to the traditional principal's speech, many schools in Netherlands give out free ice cream to scholars. In Canada, children go to school after the Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September.
"Knowledge Day" as a public holiday appeared in the Soviet Union. Originally, there was no fixed date for the beginning of the school year in the USSR. It is known that until 1930, all Soviet children (from 8 to 10 years old) who did not attend school previously had to be admitted to secondary school in the fall. Since 1984, the 1st of September has been declared a public holiday (but not a day-off). No lessons were held on this day, only ceremonial line-ups, class hours and festive concerts where the first graders are told about what awaits them and inspire all scholars to new achievements. Often such celebrations are attended by representatives of the cities’ and districts’ administrations. All celebration is marked by raising the banner and singing the anthem. Then dressed up scholars, first graders and their parents go to the Assembly hall to listen to the teachers’ pep speeches.
The main theme of the class hour on September 1, 2023 in the entire Russian Federation will be peace in the world And on the eve of the holiday, the State Kremlin Palace will host the traditional "Concert with the Stars" event.
Knowledge Day is a time of new beginnings for college freshmen and first graders, as it is for their parents. The first of September is an exciting holiday that is remembered for a lifetime. We congratulate all those involved in this day and wish them diligence and patience, persistence in acquiring new knowledge and faith in themselves in the new academic year. May all the planned things come true! Good luck in all your endeavours!
Musical automaton "Little schoolboy in a dunce cap" by Gustave Vichy: