Educational Democracy in the Czech Republic. (Dateline)

By Vysoka, Anna | Social Education, May-June 2003 | Go to article overview

Educational Democracy in the Czech Republic. (Dateline)


Vysoka, Anna, Social Education


Since the collapse of communism in 1989, the Czech Republic has initiated educational reforms aimed at supporting the transition to democracy. Reformers see the school system as playing a vital role in political and economic liberalization by creating an environment that fosters democratic attitudes and helps students develop the skills necessary for the exercise of democratic citizenship. If students experience a democratic culture in schools, they will be more capable of active democratic citizenship as adults.

Reforms have been enacted in two different stages. In the first, in the early 1990s, the primary concern was to purge curricula of Marxist-Leninist ideological indoctrination in history, philosophy, and the social sciences. A second wave of reforms focused on key competencies: critical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving, and the development of skills in research and the use of information.

The development of thinking skills is often cited as one of the aims of social studies education. The term thinking skills, however, is a very broad one, for there are many different kinds of thinking skills, such as induction, deduction, value reasoning, reasoning to the best explanation, and reasoning by analogy. Although the communist educational system obstructed the development of thinking skills in general, some have been more difficult to develop than others in the post-communist era. On a recent visit to the Czech Republic, I conducted research aimed at seeing how schools were dealing with the challenge of helping students develop thinking skills, and at identifying the kinds of skills that students were developing.

Educational Legacies of Communism

It would be very naive to assume that the sudden change from a totalitarian system to a pluralistic one could magically repair the massive cognitive damage caused by the years of totalitarian control. (1) For forty years, communism sustained itself in the Czech Republic through authoritarian methods. Some of these depended on direct physical force: police surveillance, intimidation, spying, and brutality. Perhaps even more insidious were psychological techniques of indoctrination that pervaded formal and informal education, and the socialization process. A "socialist man" was rewarded for his low profile, avoidance of initiative, and avoidance of responsibility--in short, for thinking nothing until being told what to think and/or do. (2)

This detrimental culture gave birth to a wide spectrum of sociocultural traits that obstruct the development of independent thought and individual initiative. Four of these were the following. (3)

1. The loss of a sense of personal identity. While individual autonomy, action, and responsibility are the core of a democratic society, the communist ideology reinforced the exact opposite. People developed a sense of anonymity, which was linked to their belief that their personal ideas and values did not count.

2. The inability to make a distinction between reality and pretense. Under communism, people were constantly fed false information by the government about their society, asked to sign declarations supporting the government, or forced to march cheerfully every Labor Day to celebrate illusory achievements of socialism. They were taught how to lie and pretend. According to a Czech proverb, "Repeated lies will become the truth." Individuals eventually lost the ability to differentiate between public and private reality.

3. The third characteristic was skepticism--not the healthy skepticism that is a vital part of higher-order thinking, such as critical thinking, but the skepticism that results from apathy and alienation. The four decades of communism were marked by disappointing expectations. It became clear that the propagandistic goal of a prosperous communist society was no more than a utopian dream. The resultant distrust in political leadership led to an absence of political and community participation that is still visible today. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Educational Democracy in the Czech Republic. (Dateline)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.