ERIC Identifier: ED410178
Publication Date: 1997-04-00
Author: Hamot, Gregory E.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
Civic Education in the Czech Republic: Curriculum Reform for
Democratic Citizenship. ERIC Digest.
The December 1989 election of Vaclav Havel as president was the culminating
event in Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, which overthrew Communist Party
rule and reestablished democracy in the former Czechoslovakia for the first time
since 1948. On January 1, 1993, the establishment of separate Czech and Slovak
Republics marked the start of separate democratic reform movements there.
After more than forty years of Soviet communist ideology as the central theme
in teacher education and curriculum development, Czech educational reformers
have turned to various Western sources for assistance in reforming civic
education. For instance, the Center for Civic Education in Calabasas, California
has worked closely with Czech reformers to establish national educational
standards for the teaching and learning of civics and government. This work is
part of CIVITAS: An International Civic Education Exchange Program, a project
funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Another major collaborative curriculum development project is Civic Education
for the Czech Republic (CECR), a joint effort between the Institute for
Educational Development (IED) of the pedagogical faculty at Charles University
in Prague, Czech Republic and the University of Iowa College of Education
(UICOE). This partnership, funded by the United States Information Agency, began
in autumn 1995.
CECR seeks to revise the existing social
studies curricular framework for the third form of secondary schools (ages 17
and 18) by taking particular aim at the overarching objectives for civic
education reform started in 1989. These objectives include the elimination of
Marxist-Leninist perspectives in the historical, philosophical, and social
science content of the curriculum; the reintroduction of the study of religion
into the curriculum; a renewed study of Czech history, culture, heritage, and
geography; and a pedagogical shift from transmitting information to passive
students to prompting inquiry and active learning. The purpose of this project
is to develop for use by Czech teachers sample lessons that realize these
objectives. Accompanying the lessons is a teacher's manual that presents a
rationale and suggestions for further use of the teaching methods employed in
the new lessons.
As originally designed, CECR included a core component known as the
Curriculum Development Workshop. The other two components were a partnership
program linked to the Curriculum Development Workshop and an evaluation of the
final product by Czech and American experts in civic education and curriculum
CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP
From August 4 to October
25, 1996, the Curriculum Development Workshop met weekly on the University of
Iowa campus. Four Czech teachers and the Assistant Director of IED took part in
the twelve-week workshop. The workshop focused on the main task of the project,
which was to develop a set of lessons based on active learning strategies that
foster democratic skills and attitudes. The content of the lessons centered on
five key concepts derived from the existing third-form social studies
curriculum: (1) state and government policy; (2) constitutional and local law;
(3) free market economics; (4) citizenship and human rights; and (5) the Czech
Republic in the global community.
Embedded in the workshop schedule were presentations by eight American
curriculum development and civic education specialists. The expertise of these
specialists ranged from teaching constitutionalism to general aspects of sound
THE PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM
To facilitate the curriculum
development task, the American project co-directors chose five UICOE faculty and
five secondary social studies teachers from the Iowa City Consolidated School
District to work as partners with the Czech participants. The aim of this
project component was threefold. First, these partnerships gave the Czech
participants a chance to visit schools, school board meetings, and inservice
teacher workshops that demonstrated the theoretical aspects of curriculum design
and lesson development addressed in the workshop. Second, the Czech participants
attended courses taught by the UICOE faculty that exemplified social studies
teacher education in the United States. Third, the secondary school teachers and
university faculty collaborated with their Czech partners in refining the drafts
of the lessons written during the workshop.
By the end of their residency at the
University of Iowa, the Czech participants had written 61 lessons on 20 topics
related to both the civic education reform objectives and the five key concepts
of the third-form social studies curriculum noted earlier. These lessons
introduced teaching strategies heretofore rarely practiced in the Czech
Republic, such as role playing, simulations, educational games, decision trees,
civic writing, and cooperative learning. Additionally, some lessons highlighted
content areas new to Czech social studies courses, including AIDS awareness,
industrial pollution, and civic activism.
The final project component was an evaluation of the materials from both an
American and a Czech perspective. In November 1996, a group of American civic
education and curriculum development experts and several Czech content
specialists and pedagogical scholars analyzed and critiqued the lessons. The
recommendations for improvement were incorporated into the final draft of the
PILOT TEST, EVALUATION, AND REVISION
In January 1997,
Czech and American experts who were involved in the curriculum development
conducted a teacher workshop in the Czech Republic. The aim of this workshop was
to prepare eight Czech teachers from gymnasium, vocational, and apprenticeship
schools throughout the Czech Republic to test the new lessons in a
representative sample of Czech secondary schools.
Simultaneously, American and East Central European experts in curriculum
evaluation conducted a workshop with Czech researchers on the methods of data
collection and analysis required for a systematic evaluation of the new lessons.
This component of phase two focuses on an evaluation of knowledge, skill, and
attitude outcomes commonly associated with life in a democracy. The researchers
are seeking empirical evidence of educational reform through the implementation
and evaluation of the draft curriculum by both teachers and students in the
sample Czech schools.
Upon completion of the pilot test and evaluation, the reformed curriculum
will undergo a final revision for publication. IED will publish the first
edition of the lessons for distribution to Czech social studies teachers in the
ADVOCACY AND DISSEMINATION
The second phase of CECR will
conclude with a National Workshop on Civic Education for Democracy in Olomouc, a
university city in the Czech province of Moravia. During this workshop,
scheduled for summer 1997, American and Czech CECR participants will disburse
copies of the final product and provide professional development to as many
Czech secondary school teachers as possible. The goal is to advocate the
reformed curriculum through this workshop so that the greatest number of
third-form classes may begin using the lessons as early as autumn 1997.
Given forty-three years of totalitarian
communism, it is unreasonable to expect complete democratic educational reform
to result from one curriculum development project. CECR, however, represents the
kind of project that combines the educational expertise of a developed democracy
with the contextual understanding of a transitional democracy in an effort to
reform civic education through classroom practice. As Czech teachers begin to
implement new curricula for democratic citizenship education, the products
generated by CECR offer one opportunity to turn the hope for a democratic
citizenry into a reality.
History of the Czech Republic - Offers a good overview of the history of the Czech Republic.
REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES
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