So, the Kazan of my childhood was Gorky and the forest near my building, which is now a training ground for tanks, and that's it. And then, by the time I started high school and began getting ready for college, Kazan had already changed.
How did you choose your profession?
I didn't really have any options. I wanted to either learn a foreign language or become a hitman. I really wanted to be a spy. Right? And I'm not sure how intentional it was, but my dad and I talked a lot about my future. And he, without telling me what I had to choose, talked me out of being a translator or a spy.
I had no other options. Everyone in my family was an architect, and it seemed like a cool job.
When I was very young, what I really wanted to do was drive a tractor. I found out later that almost everyone on my dad's side—they were from a village—operated farm machinery. Then, after watching the 1990 World Cup, I started thinking about becoming a soccer player. I wanted to play soccer, whatever it took, and beat the Germans [laughing out loud]. Again with the damn Germans!
But is it genetic memory?
I don't know. Whatever. Of course, it is, definitely! No question. Everyone on my father's side is from a village and I wanted to drive a tractor. Everyone in my wife's family worked on the railroad, and my son loves trains. He's crazy about them! Nobody ever told him about her side of the family, but he's crazy about them, he loves the subway and its music, trains and everything, that's all he cares about! How can you explain that? It's his passion. He knows everything about the railway!
Well, I never became a soccer player because I had a bad coach ... he wasn't very understanding. And, in short, that killed my desire to play soccer, because I just felt like, who cares? One time at practice we were standing in line, 7–8 years old, and the coach was going insane. He held the ball like this and walked up and down the line going on about something. Here and there he'd kick the ball into us unexpectedly ....
Yes. He would randomly beat children. That is, he'd go back and forth, then suddenly ... "don't let your guard down!" This is from the, you know, "don't let your guard down, kid!" school of teaching. And I was one of those random people. He hit me really hard, practically in the face. After that I was afraid of the ball. I was eight.
So, now I was afraid of the soccer ball. Being assaulted is one thing; another thing that I always lament about in any educational program...
Do you remember what school it was?
Where I played soccer?
School No. 24! The Tenth Subdistrict.
Either that or the Ninth. The Ninth, that's right. I lived in the Eighth. That was another problem. It wasn't safe. I had to walk there in the dark. In any case, being a soccer player didn't work out.
I guess not.
Well that's why. I really loved soccer. I played for a long time, and I could run fast; I was tough. But what do I think my main problem with education was? In childhood—and nothing has changed—I think (and I only understood this later) that nobody ever taught me methodology. The most important thing in regards to education is to learn where you start, where you are going, and how it will happen. There's a method!