Czech Republic: Totalitarian Lesson for Czech Students
This morning is a bit unusual for students from Policka High School, who came to school thinking how this day would be. The students experience one day of totalitarian rule in order to better understand how difficult life was under communist rule. Even though partly in a light way, the teacher expects them to get a feel for it.
Entering school, there are some prohibitions like no jeans, t-shirts, or even make up for girls, while boys can’t have long hair.
Apart from the attire, the behavior of teachers and students, way of teaching, learning materials and even decoration in the hallways is all different.
[Miloslav Svoboda, High School Principal]:
“Our goal is to show the past as real as possible with objectivity. And we will know what the outcome will be at the end of the day.”
History teacher Jana Galgociova is one of the many people behind the project.
[Jana Galgociova, History Teacher]:
“My aim was to give this experience to students. They took hold of this day with a bit of extravagance, which is absolutely normal for their age, but I know that this gives them room to think about how it was before.”
Teachers prepared for the event ahead of time during their regular lessons.
[Petr Tišl, Biology Teacher]:
“We spent many hours explaining to students that communism wasn’t funny whatsoever. There were many executions in the 1950s. Communism made life difficult, especially for those whom the regime disliked.”
Students take on new subjects, some of which have different content from what they are used to. For example, military training, which includes throwing fake grenades, or running whilst wearing a gas mask. In the physical education class, students experience marching like soldiers.
And what do teenagers think about the day?
[Klara Kasparova, Student]:
“I can’t imagine having to wear these uncomfortable clothes, and also I appreciate the kindness of our contemporary teachers. I don´t like the behavior of the totalitarian teachers that we saw today.”
[Petr Tisl, Biology Teacher]:
“It is important to let students know that any kind of totalitarianism is bad. And the fact that they now live in a free country doesn´t have to be so easy to accomplish; I think they can understand that.”
Vladka Maskova, NTD, Policka, the Czech Republic.