The school must not promote political parties, in that it is apolitical. But at the same time, it should teach students love of freedom and responsibility for freedom as soon as possible. Either the freedom of the country or the freedom of your body.
We live in times of unrest and great changes, it is not easy for schools to keep up with the changes, to cope with them, to adapt the teaching to them, but also the attitude and perception of the teachers. Two examples will hopefully help to understand how complicated it is for both students and cantors today.
Diary N described the situation at the prestigious Brno grammar school, where the teacher tried to dissuade transgender students from transitioning, i.e. from permanently changing gender. According to the text, she apparently did so with good motives, out of a deep personal conviction that it was wrong. Or more precisely from a personal belief that it is wrong. One of the students claimed that the teacher was trying to “evangelize” them. In the text we read: “Former and current students described to the editors the lessons in which Prchalová rails against LGBTQI people and lets a plastic embryo circulate around the class like an abortion scarecrow.”
In another elementary school, a different situation takes place in the first grade. For fifth-graders, the subject “ethics” was introduced there, the aim of which, as you can read on the school’s website, is “emphasis on the development of critical thinking, cooperation in groups, formulating one’s own opinion and listening to the opinions of others. We will learn to argue and search for information…”
During the ethics lessons, the fifth-graders discuss there, and during the conversations, the war in Ukraine also appears as a logical, inevitable, current topic. The school is private and Russian children also attend it. The teacher offers the pupils simple facts, i.e. that Russia attacked Ukraine for no reason, and Ukraine is defending itself with the support of countries such as the Czech Republic and European Union states. However, some parents complained that they did not want the war to be discussed at school, and they pressured the headmistress to prohibit it in the ethics.
Complaining parents also argue that “teaching should be apolitical” and “school apolitical”. The same argument appeared in the case of the Brno grammar school and the teacher who fought against the transgender. Jiří Nantl, the deputy governor of the South Moravian Region, who is the founder of the school, said that “teaching should definitely be apolitical and respectful of the personality of the educated”.
So the question arises whether the debate during the ethics lesson with fifth graders about the war in Ukraine is “political” or “apolitical”. And what is even meant by the “apolitical school”. Is this a school where you can’t talk about, let’s say, misinformation? Or about the ongoing war that directly affects our country? In which children are kidnapped from Ukraine to Russia and given to Russians for adoption? It’s the same with the attitude towards transgender people at that gymnasium, is it “political” when the teacher starts talking about it?
Children cannot be protected from reality
Furthermore, “respect for the personality of the educated” is at stake. Paťák asks about the war in Ukraine. It’s no wonder, he hears about her at home, he hears about her on TV, on the radio, his friends are certainly debating about her, the reason may also be the fact that Russian children go to the school and that a Ukrainian student also attended it for a while. On the contrary, the teacher warns against transgender high school students who have decided to change, moreover, as it turned out, she sent completely misleading, unverified, false information to one of them.
I believe that “apolitical teaching” and “apolitical school” means that political parties are not promoted there, that the ČSSD, ANO, ODS, SPD, Pirates, PRO or other entities are not taught to children. Their promotion is not allowed. At the same time, I believe that both primary and secondary school should lead pupils to freedom and an understanding of what democracy is. As soon as a child asks about war, any war, during ethics, the teacher cannot answer “sorry, but we are an apolitical school”. And surely they must choose an answer that does not frighten the child or incite them against Russian classmates or vice versa. Not answering would mean disrespecting the child’s curiosity.
And at the Brno gymnasium? Does a teacher have the right to fight against LGBTQI people? Does he have the right to “evangelize” students, to instill faith in them? Does he have the right to slander high school graduates who have decided to change gender in the classroom? It doesn’t have. And doesn’t it because it’s a “political” meeting? No, it is an unethical act by which the teacher betrays his mission. There is no need to write about the fact that he does not respect his personality.
But I will add right away: this does not mean that an open debate about LGBTQI issues cannot take place at that gymnasium. That, for example, in ethics it would not be possible to talk about transgender and transition. But it is fundamentally true: students must be given verified, true information, not lies. And mocking or slandering them is out of the question.
I can imagine that the parents at that private elementary school could simply be worried that the teacher would not scare the children, burden them with “adult problems”, that they meant well. According to the text of Deník N, the anti-transgender teacher could well have thought so. But it’s not enough. Children can’t be “protected from the world”, it still presses on them every day, they can’t be hidden from reality. Similarly, high school students cannot be hidden from the fact that someone in a man’s body feels like a woman, and vice versa, that these people yearn to “return to themselves”, to find their identity.
Primary and secondary school should prepare children for life, not protect them from life. It should teach them to distinguish truth from lies, information from misinformation, it should teach them to recognize evil when it is at work. And to see a person as the one who chooses who he will be, who is responsible for himself, i.e. for his own body. Then it’s a good school.
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