April 15, 2006

Education in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, we have a very archaic educational system. It is absolutely based on learning facts - we learn dates of important battles, names and books of famous writers, typical signs of various art and architectural styles, hierarchy of plants and animals, area, capital city and number of inhabitants of different countries or chemical formulas. All these things we must carry in our memory - we are tested in it. Unfortunately, this system is used in basic schools, grammar schools and even in universities.

I absolutely refuse this system of learning - all these things can be found very easily in libraries or on the internet, there is just a small reason why it is good to carry them in the head: you have a better overview of the world (I am happy for it, but the effort to get it is too big). Moreover: in present-day world, we simply can't even touch the whole knowledge of all people in such a short time: e.g. in chemistry, physics and other technical subjects. The knowledge here is so advanced that we know almost nothing after graduating the grammar school.

I think we should more focus on abilities, that are really important in our world:
  • presentation,
  • communication,
  • discussion,
  • working with information (searching, writing),
  • teamwork.
Another aspect is that by doing these activities you learn much more than by just learning facts.

I envy when on of our teachers, which is American, talks about American educational system and one of the basic principles of it: that the teacher should talk for just a minority of time in a lesson and he should empower the discussion. Oh my god, I would love this!

In international competitions, Czech students always win in theoretical knowledge (or they are on the first places). But when it comes to communication, discussion in the team or presentation in front of many people, Czech students and people are very bad (I see it often in the work). I don't think we should stop learning and just talk in the school, but i think we should find a compromise. Otherwise, we will lag.

Czech language is our prison?!

I work as a consultant for creating websites that have profit, that return investments put in it. I have to figure out many disciplines of web design - usability, search engine optimization, information architecture, marketing, accessibility and so on. But this is not the thing I want to write about.

Last month one of my friends from Czech web design community went to USA. Among other events he visited SXSWi, an American web design conference, where he met a lot of leaders in international web design community (mainly American and Australian inhabitants). These people are very famous, visit conferences around the world and all people from the world that create websites know them. And I figured out a fascinating fact: they have usually similar abilities, qualification, knowledge and experience as we do. I think Czech language is our problem - even if we all know and use English, we will never be able to use it so well as a native speaker and so there will always be a big barrier between us and internation clients, international webdesign community. And this is the reason why we can't become so famous in the global scale as Americans can. That's a pitty.

In last week we (with Iva) were in Ireland and we had a long discussion if it was good for Ireland to lose its native language (Irish), which is today still sometimes used, but English definitely dominates. I think it was a big win for Ireland, but Iva thinks that the country lost also a significant part of its culture and doesn't see it so positively - what do you think?