Articles

No runaway children this year?

In Culture, Czechs on July 6, 2007 by Petr Bokuvka

Czech journalists know it. Every year it is the same thing. Around June 15 newspapers and TV news broadcasts start the obligatory warning lesson to parents, saying “don’t get mad at your children for what you see on their report cards” because “it is your fault, too”. Also, every year there would be some kind of desperate kid on the news trying to slit their wrist or jump from/of something really tall. I have been at work (meaning, having editor-of-the-day shifts) for five straight days since June 29… and nothing. Last year I think there were two boys in the Southern Moravia district alone.

The worst thing about Czech junior high and high schools is MEMORIZING. Although many teachers are trying to be inventive and come with new methods of teaching, there are still those almost 19-century rules as to what the kids should know. Please, translate “know” as “memorize”. Czech Literature lessons/courses are the most typical example. A teacher stands there and narrates:

Franz Kafka was born on …. and died in …. In the year …. he wrote … which is about …. One year later he wrote … and … Another man who belongs to this era is the author of the book …. named — Anyone? You should know, it is going to be on the test…

Which brings us to the very moment when the kids get a symbolical kick in the butt. Don’t you try any thinking, just remember it and shut up.

I am quite sure that most of the kids who fail a course and have to take some test in September, only to be allowed to take the next grade, have bad memory but if the teacher had asked them to make a conclusion, to define, to think, to say what they think, they would come on top as straight A students.

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