Publication details [#63784]

Fiadotova, Anastasiya. 2017. School and the value of knowledge: Transformations in Belarusian jokes about education. The European Journal of Humour Research 5 (2) : 51–70.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Cracow Tertium Society for the Promotion of Language Studies


Over the past century Belarus has witnessed a substantial growth in educational level. Attaining secondary education is now regarded normal, getting a university degree is acclaimed. However, such a posture is fairly new to Belarusian society. Joke texts that date from the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century point out that formal education was broadly regarded idle as it did not provided children with abilities they required in real life. Formal education was often opposed with learning essential abilities at home, always in favour of the latter. In the Soviet era, formal education was made obligatory and abruptly became an essential part of people’s lives, but it still required a connection with children’s future careers. Parents could not at all times value the profits of education, but needed to send their children to school anyway. The clash between the “old” posture and the “new” reality created jokes. Jokes that have appeared in the post-Soviet era reflect the ubiquity of education in modern Belarusian society. Some school jokes indicate a greater comprehension of the value of knowledge in modern children―but it is oft not the formal knowledge they are anticipated to get in school. Overall, school in jokes has turned into a setting where matters important in society at large come forward, even if this proceeds against the will of the educators.