Vice Dean Škoda, where would you place the Ústí Faculty of Education in comparison with other faculties of education in this country?
It’s always a question of criteria. We are in the middle in almost everything. In regard to size, we cannot compete with Prague or Brno. What makes us specific is the structure of fields of study within the Faculty of Education. In this we are comparable only with Ostrava because, since we gradually dismembered the other faculties from our educational faculty, like natural science, philosophy, the faculty of production technology and management, partly also the faculty of the environment and the social-economic faculty, what remains is the part that no one else really wanted. We have here majors that are very expensive, like musical education, art education, and physical education. Moreover, the majors which have high coefficients of economic demands, those that are connected to higher state contributions for each student, have left us. I take as an example the Faculty of Art and Design (FUD), where they receive three times more money for each student than we do. This is also true of the fields of natural science and technology. We then find ourselves in a paradoxical situation. We prepare students of art education for the bachelor’s level of studies, where they are not yet teachers, in spite of the fact that it is accredited within the program Specialization in Education, which has a coefficient of economic demands of 1.2. The Faculty of Art and Design has the same type of study at the same bachelor’s level, but the accreditation under the program of Fine Arts has a coefficient of 3.5. The financial demand per student is almost the same; they need the same paint, the same workshops, the same studios.
The Vice Dean for Studies Jiří Škoda: “The relationship
of society to teachers is somewhat cautious; the relationship of
parents to teachers is getting worse.”
Don’t you think that for years and years we have still been teaching the same way?
You are not entirely correct. Very many of these tendencies towards modernization have appeared, be it project education, step-by-step, open school, popular research-oriented education, heuristic methods of teaching, or constructivist methods. There is a whole scale of alternatives. Here also in our country we have seen the relatively tumultuous development of types of schools, like the Waldorf, the Dalton, or the Montessori schools with levels of representation which are relatively high in comparison with other European countries. So it is probably not that variants don’t exist, but the common denominator of all these alternative approaches is that they are rather demanding, for teachers, and also for students and their parents. Of course, for students they are excellent. But we also don’t yet know how long the effect of their novelty will last. Change always means that the beginning is positive and has excellent results. The question is how it will play out on the far horizon.
Why then do the majority of students in internships keep to the traditional forms of teaching?
Simply because the alternative methods require much greater experience, not only in the organization of the educational process, but also in communication with pupils, in preparation for teaching, and in keeping discipline. That classic teaching style is still relatively effective as regards knowledge and learning. But not at all in regard to skills, but that is a longer debate.
Why do you think that the teaching profession in our country is so devalued and that a teacher has such little prestige in the eyes of the public and of pupils?
Oddly enough, in various rankings of authority or of professional significance teachers rank quite highly. The relationship of society to teachers is somewhat cautious; the relationship of parents to teachers is getting worse. More or less it is a question not only of finances, but also of authority; in quite a few countries teachers are public officials, but here they are not. And the method of protection and the authority which flows from it is a little different. Of course it is also about who ends up in these schools and which children should be taught. I think the demands on teachers are increasing so horribly that only the really strong ones can stay in the profession.
Do you have any recipe for increasing the prestige and social authority of teachers in the future?
There is some kind of unattainable model, something like God, which is called the “Finnish Model”. Triple teachers’ salaries, then the teaching profession will be much more attractive. What we are going to see is that the faculty of education will be the second, or maybe the third choice of students. First they will try to go somewhere else, and then when they are not hired, they will go to the faculty of education. When it becomes their first choice, when we can choose the best of the best, then they will have the right background, equipment, authority, and financial value, then it will be about something else and the approach of society towards teachers will change.