Friday, 25 April 2014

Survey: Schools devote little time to modern history lessons

22 November 2012

Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) - Czech schools do not devote enough time to modern history teaching which is partially due to some teachers and parents' stands, some 1600 history teachers agreed in a Factum Invenio poll conducted for the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) that was released Wednesday.

The teachers of elementary and secondary schools said children mainly like documents on historical themes or discussion meetings with historical events' witnesses.

Three quarters of the teachers polled said, however, pupils' interest in history outside school lessons is only marginal.

"Two thirds of the teachers questioned said they think that more time should be devoted to modern history lessons," Factum Invenio said.

It said in its report schools are often criticised over modern history teaching. The allegedly little time available may cause that history lessons end with World War Two.

The poll showed that history teachers mainly pay attention to turning points in the period starting with the 1968 Prague Spring communist-led reform movement that was crushed by the Soviet-led invasion of then Czechoslovakia in the same year and ending with the fall of the communist regime in 1989.

The political trials in the 1950s are also highlighted in history lessons, the poll showed.

The teachers say films with historical themes best motivate pupils' interest in history. Another such motivation are testimonies by witnesses and visits to important places, museums or exhibitions," the poll authors said.

They said pupils are mainly interested in regional and war history as well as "everyday history, in which the accounts of witnesses are instrumental."

Some 56 percent of respondents said they believe that only less than one quarter of pupils are able to critically assess historical findings which should be the main goal of history teaching.

Most history teachers said children's ideas of the past are formulated by films, media and the family.

Making pupils critically think about recent history is the goal of the Stories of Injustice launched by the human rights organisation People in Need.

Some 770 schools now screen documents on the period of "normalisation" in which communist hardliners took power in Czechoslovakia after Prague Spring was crushed in 1968.

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