Problematic students move a person forward and get them to reflect on their own work, says Open teacher | iROZHLAS

Daniel Pražák teaches in a primary school in Prague, but he has also passed through schools in remote parts of the country. As a volunteer, he worked in orphanages, teaching street children in Congo. He is a spokesperson for the Open movement. He advocates a respectful approach in his profession. “In Congo, a boy threw stones at me. He worked a respectful approach, he became my right arm. It always convinces me that if I succeeded with such a child, I can do it with others” , he laughs.




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Daniel Pražak Photo: Patrik Simr | Source: Private Archives

In an interview you say that you try to be a partner for the students and the problematic ones are more of a motivator. How can a problem student be a motivator? Isn’t he more of a devastater?
It’s not always that he’s a motivator, but he forces a person to look for other paths, he always forces him to learn. Some might say “stay alert”. I’m not taking it because we have a duel in class. We are here to learn together, and by that I mean I also learn from the students. Through the mirror given to me by the students, I learn something about myself, like how I work with authority, how I perceive it.

Depression and suicide rates have increased. During the covid, we realized the need to take care of the mental health of students and teachers, underlines Daniel Pražák of the Open movement

Even in the tenth year of my teaching, I still believe that respecting the process and that the child is a partner for me, and not that I am the teacher with a pointer on the podium who distributes punishments, that it is the good move. As soon as I trust a child and show him that I take him seriously, it changes the relationship. The problem child is a box, but it’s the children who move someone like me forward and reflect on their own work, which is useful and necessary.

What is the motivation when one embarks on such a profession?
It’s a job that has a lot of meaning. It’s a job in which you influence the future. I believe that the children who come out of my class will be able to work better with resources, they will be more educated about their mental health, they will be able to work better in a team. It is something that can really transform society.

There are also people who will teach so that other children do not experience what they have experienced, they go there with the motivation to change it. And then there is another large group that agrees with the system and wants to replicate it.


Paradoxically, hasn’t the situation with covid and the necessary transition to distance learning helped something in the perception and functioning of teaching work? Has it advanced the development of education or has it slowed it down?
It’s hard to assess now, but covid pointed out the things we knew were a problem in Czech education. For example, inequalities in education. That we have a large percentage of children who, even though they are in school, are not really there…. These are children who dropped out of school in the first spring. It showed great differences between the schools. Some schools quickly entered the system, others failed.

Our headmaster said a magic phrase: “Closing the schools opened the schools. But it was mutual. We saw more in the environment of the children and the children and parents saw more in the environment of our teaching. I think in some ways it brought us a lot closer.


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At the same time, we have become more aware of the need for mental health and mental health care for students and teachers. These are the teachers for whom she was COVID-19 situation, online learning, one last step. They threw a towel in the ring and they didn’t have it anymore. And they are not surprised.

Teachers are missing, we need them and we have to keep them, but we also have to take care of the mental health of the students, who have become very exposed. We still don’t know what covid cause. We know that depression, suicide rates have increased. We know that children who are at risk of domestic violence and school was the only place of safety for them suddenly did not have this support.

I would like to highlight what Centrum Locika is doing with their school – a place of safety campaign, which focuses on this topic. At the same time, it turns out how good a good teacher is.

According to Daniel Pražák, why don’t uniform entrance exams fit the 21st century? What is the Open movement doing and how is it trying to change the established way of teaching? How does our education compare to that of other countries? And can a person without natural authority become a good teacher? Listen to the whole conversation.

Petr Kral, vma

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