Czech School Inspectorate: Critical thinking and student engagement missing from classrooms

New teaching guidelines are being developed to prepare Czech students for a future that demands problem-solving skills. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 31.01.2023 09:17:00 (updated on 31.01.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech School Inspectorate (ČSI) announced a number of findings last week from its latest report on the state of Czech education. The research consistently shows that Czech schools fail to challenge and engage students, ČTK reports.

Lessons were found to primarily revolve around rote memorization rather than critical thinking and in the majority of Czech language and math classes, students were engaged in tasks that require little creativity or problem-solving.

"We are more dominated by the acquisition and memorization of content, which is more of a manual competence, than problem-solving which is something that awaits graduates," central school inspector Tomáš Zatloukal said.

Inspections were conducted throughout the 2021–22 school year. Inspectors made 671 inspections and 12,543 visits to primary schools. Questionnaires were submitted by 8,263 teachers and 17,944 pupils.

A lack of engagement in the classroom was particularly pronounced in the sixth through ninth grades. ČSI reports that this group of students wasn't sufficiently challenged and didn't receive enough useful feedback from teachers.

The inspection found that only in about half of the lessons for students in their last four years of primary school did teachers give lessons that kept students sufficiently engaged. Results were better in the first five years of elementary school with about 70 percent of lessons stimulating students.

How does the Czech approach to education need to change?

Less homework and fewer tests 8 %
More activities that encourage teamwork and creativity 17 %
Both of these things (reduced volume of work and more focus on imagination) 68 %
No change is necessary 7 %
236 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

Research also determined that in just 17 percent of the lessons taught in the lower grades and in 14 percent of lessons taught in the upper grades of elementary school were students likely to practice problem-solving activities.

The need for less comprehensive curricula was cited by about 40 percent of teachers working with younger pupils and about 30 percent of teachers working with older pupils.

How Czech education can adapt

Source: Czech School Inspectorate

  • Classrooms should prepare students for contributing to a future economy based on new information technologies and systems of artificial intelligence by teaching problem solving skills.
  • Teaching should also be more inclusive and educators must take a more diverse approach to motivate and involve students to ensure that the lessons have an impact.
  • More time should be given to working independently or in groups to solve problems and acquire knowledge.
  • Assignments should be adapted to individual students according to their abilities so that even weaker students can succeed.

In addition to the steps outlined above, the Czech School Inspectorate report recommends that certain subjects are unified into one in the later grades, similar to the way teaching is done in the earlier years and that lesson planning should be simplified.

Changes to guidelines for primary school education are currently being revised by the Czech Education Ministry of Education and the National Pedagogical Institute.

The ministry expects that the changes will be mandatory for the first and sixth years of elementary school from September 2025 and in all classes from September 2029. The first schools could implement the new teaching plans as early as September 2024.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more