17 SES 06 B, Czech, Hungarian and Slovenian Histories of Education
Starting from the establishment of the first Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, the last hundred years of the Czechoslovak history brought a rather turbulent development. The Czechoslovak history can be likened to a drama consisting of several acts. In some of the acts, we can perceive great hopes and building of a free democratic state. In the others, there can be a deliberate suppression of freedom or democratic principles seen. The shaping of the school system and teaching profession can be perceived in a similar way. In the first years of the Czechoslovak Republic existence, the excitement caused by the newly created state prevailed, accompanied by efforts to rebuild the education system from the Austrian-Hungarian times and, at the same time, attempts to modernize it with regard to the democratic, republican and liberal ideas. Hitler‘s rise to power in Germany and the outbreak of World War II represent the second act of this imaginary drama of the Czechoslovak education history. In short, attempts to build schools adhering to democratic principles were violently disrupted by the influence of Nazi ideology and occupation of Bohemia and Moravia (Zahra, 2008). During the Second World War, some events that have affected both Czechoslovak society and Czechoslovak education system up to the present days took place. The Red Army played a significant role in the liberation of Czechoslovakia from the Nazi oppression, however, this led to the orientation of the state towards the Soviet Union. This orientation got even stronger in 1948, when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia gained all the political power in the country, with no existing opposition (Crampton, 1997). This is also the beginning of the third and also the longest act of this drama, which also provides a historical context for this contribution. The aim of the authors is to introduce and describe the development of the education and the teaching profession during the period of the authoritarian socialist regime, with an emphasis on the important events accompanying this regime. The main question the authors are attempting to answer is how were the education and teaching profession changing in socialist Czechoslovakia and how the teachers perceived and experienced the crucial moments in the development of education in the context of important historical events. The topic is addressed on the two basic levels. The first level of interpretation focuses on the macro-historic milestones having a crucial impact on the life of the society as well as on the education system and teaching profession. In particular, it explores the changes related to the rise of the autocratic socialist regime after 1948, the Prague Spring and the "new round" of the consolidation of the autocratic rule during the so-called normalization period. Last but not least, it deals with the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and the beginning of the so-called transformation period in the 1990s. In this part of the contribution, their impact on the school legislation, school system and the teaching profession will be presented. The second level of interpretation deals with the micro-history, where the authors focus on an everyday life of teachers, providing the so-called view from below complementary to the macro-historical level (Sharp, 1991).
In their contribution, the authors use a combination of historiographical approaches of macro- and micro-history (Le Goff, 1983; Szijártó, 2002). The authors explored the macro-historical level of the contribution focused on the description and understanding of the development of the education system especially through the study of contemporary legislation, archival sources and other available contemporary documents. The study of archival sources was realized in several archives of the Czech Republic. These include above all the National Archives in Prague, Brno City Archives and the Moravian Land Archive. Archival sources were analyzed using traditional methods of historical research, such as the direct, indirect and historical comparative methods (Claus & Marriott, 2013; Zounek & Šimáně, 2014). In order to understand the micro-historic level of the studied issue, the authors primarily used the oral history method (Abrams, 2010; Gardner, 2003), the merits of which are interviews with the witnesses of the historical events, and which they gathered within the research projects Everyday Life of Basic Schools in the Normalisation Period as Seen by Teachers: Applying Oral History to Research in History of Contemporary Education (Czech Science Foundation project no. 14-05926S) and Secondary Technical School in Socialist Czechoslovakia from the History of the Everyday Life Point of View. Oral History Interviews with Teachers (supported by Czech Science Foundation, no. 19-24776S). The respondents were teachers, as well as former headmasters, who worked at primary and secondary technical schools in socialist Czechoslovakia. The interviews were recorded on the dictaphone, rewritten literally and then analyzed using Atlas.ti analytical software, with regard to the research questions concerning the studied issue.
The combination of macro and micro-historical approaches allows capturing recent historical events more multidimensionally than using only one of the above mentioned. At the same time, it turns out that no period can be perceived just in black and white. In every period, great historical events can be found as well as individual life stories which could have been strongly influenced by these events in both positive and negative way. On this very level, it is possible to demonstrate how multi-layered and complex was the reality of teacher life in Czechoslovakia during the reviewed period. This approach can also indicate how difficult it is to interpret "great" historical events as well as actions of particular people in different historical contexts. Moreover, the authors also address a very little explored issue, which is the "transition" from the authoritarian regime education to the democratic one in the 1990s. For both schools and their teachers, this period brought new challenges which were often difficult to cope with (e.g. concerning school autonomy or teacher responsibilities).
Abrams, L. (2010). Oral History Theory. London: Routledge. Claus, P., & Marriott, J. (2013). History: An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice. London: Routledge. Crampton, R. J. (1997). Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century – and after. London: Routledge. Gardner, P. (2003). Oral History in Education: Teacher's Memory and Teachers' History. In History of Education: Journal of the History of Education Society, 32(2), 175–188. Le Goff, J. (1983). Later History. Past and Present, 100(1), 14–28. Sharp, J. (1991). History from Below. In P. Burke (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing (s. 25–41). Cambridge: Polity Press. Szijártó, I. (2002). Four Arguments for Microhistory. In Rethinking History, 2(6), 209–215. Zahra, T. (2008). Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Zounek, J. Šimáně, M., & Knotová, D. (2017a). Normální život v nenormální době. Základní školy a jejich učitelé (nejen) v období normalizace [Normal Life in not so Normal Times. Primary Schools and Their Teachers (not only) during the So-called Normalization Period]. Praha: Wolters Kluwer. Zounek, J., & Šimáně, M. (2014). Úvod do studia dějin pedagogiky a školství: kapitoly z metodologie historicko-pedagogického výzkumu. [An Introduction to the Study of History of Education: Chapters from the Historical-pedagogical Research History.] Brno: Masarykova univerzita. Zounek, J., Šimáně, M., & Knotová, D. (2017b). Primary School Teachers as a Tool of Secularisation of Society in Communist Czechoslovakia. History of Education, 46(4), 480–497. Zounek, J., Šimáně, M., & Knotová, D. (2018). “You Have Betrayed Us for a Little Dirty Money!” The Prague Spring as Seen by Primary School Teachers. Paedagogica Historica International Journal of the History of Education, 54(3), 320–337.
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