The 40th annual conference of the International Standing Conference for the History of Education (ISCHE) will be held in Berlin, on the campus of Humboldt University Berlin.
Authors: Jiří Zounek (Masaryk University), Michal Šimáně (Mendel University).
The takeover of power by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1948 was followed by new requirements for Czechoslovak society. Similarly to the USSR, the “New Man” in the spirit of socialist ideology was to be shaped in socialist Czechoslovakia. The people were to be transformed into active, loyal, and honest citizens whose professional and private lives were to be largely driven by power as dictated by state ideology (Overy, 2006). Unsurprisingly, one of the key areas for creating the New Man was education. Education was to be re-fashioned to not only develop a new intelligentsia loyal to the socialist regime, but also to create new educational staff devoted to communist ideology (Lunačarskij, 1982) – the people needed to raise and educate future generations. Teachers, therefore, were high in the hierarchy of roles created to shape the New Man – the “New Teacher”.
The focus of this paper is: How did the communist regime in Czechoslovakia create New Teachers? How was communist ideology reflected in their lives? How did they deal with ideological pressure? The paper is based on archival sources and, especially, oral histories. Research respondents were teachers of primary schools in former Czechoslovakia, who were in active service during the “period of normalization”.
Research data show that the Czechoslovak communist regime applied strong pressure to create the New Teacher. Ideology was imposed on teachers in significant ways during training and when teaching. New Teachers met the requirements of the regime in some ways while looking for opportunities to stay true to themselves: to be able to “see their own face in the mirror” next to the required “social face”.