Since her youngest age, Tatiana has been interested in literature. She read and learned poetry by heart, and composed it herself. After school, she announced to her parents that she wanted to enter the philological faculty of Irkutsk State University. They strongly disagreed with this decision.
Her mother (a mathematician) said: “Only through my dead body ! “. Her father (a physicist) only said that she could still read books in her free time but she should get a “good education”. Tatiana ended up choosing, in tears, between mathematics and economics. With her younger brother, they decided to respectively do mathematics and physics, in order to study in the same building and meet after classes — and that’s what they did.
Once she entered the mathematical faculty, Tatiana fell in love with mathematics.
Everything depends on the teacher — and I had wonderful teachers here. I am so thankful to my parents today! They saw something in me, and helped me to make a choice… I think that parents know what is better for their children, they just do not always dare to act in such an assured way.“, Tatiana says.
Today Tatiana walks through the corridors of the faculty where she learned her favorite calculus, probability theory and differential equations. The faculty is situated in a unique building of the end of the nineteenth century — high ceilings, wooden desks, long corridors… “Many things have changed: chairs, desks, even the name of the faculty, but the walls are still the same”, Tatiana says, looking around.
Doors and handles of the Institute of mathematics
The director of the Institute of mathematics and information technologies, Mikhail Falaleev, gives a guided tour of the building to Tatiana and her seventeen year old daughter, Maria.
Mikhail shows them one of the side stairs which has stayed untouched since those times, yet before the Revolution. “Many of the stairs have been smoothened out, he says, by millions of footsteps along more than a century — we had to replace the central stairs but this one persists for now”. Mikhail is excited by door handles in the Institute that have been touched by the emperor Nikolai the Second, who came here for a visit when he was yet a prince. “By the way, the doors here are quadrilaterals of general type!” Mikhail is happy to tell how he managed to replace the old doors in the building. Lots of renovation is still happening — it’s summer time, and the classes are over. “Let’s not look there — it is not repaired yet!”, Mikhail says with some pride, and leads over to the text classroom.
Young girls education
More than a century ago, the building of the Institute of mathematics fostered the Institute of education for young (and unmarried) women of high society. Mikhail decides to remind Maria about those conservative times. “Just imagine, only one century ago, young women as you couldn’t even get outside the park surrounding the building! You know what “chère with ma chère” means?— The girls would dance one with another at the balls since they couldn’t invite any boys inside!”.
Maria has Tatiana’s eyes, and long curly hair reaching her waist. She listens with suspicion. When she speaks, she is very cautious with her words, especially those concerning her future choice of education. Maria is interested in physics. But she doesn’t know yet in which city she will study — Irkutsk or somewhere else, she has one more year to choose. Her boyfriend thinks of going to Novosibirsk, and she may follow him.
Tatiana’s eldest daughter Ksenia has studied innovation and energetics in Irkutsk National Research Technical University. Today she is happily married, raising a five-month daughter and giving classes for children in her dance studio. But for Maria, many important choices are yet to be made.
I would love education to come before love, since love will come yet many times,” Tatiana says, “but Maria will choose for herself. She is at an important age now, and decides many things for herself. I am a single Mom today, and I would love to have a man’s perspective on all of these questions.“