Through the eyes of experts: Workshops in the 21st century school |

Through the eyes of experts: Workshops in the 21st century school |

More professional subjects and the return of work-based learning. At least according to the analysis of Proposals for the Innovation of the Framework Educational Program for Basic Education, this is a recipe for increasing interest in technical fields in basic schools. During the entire second stage, students should take at least four hours of professional subjects per week, with work activities in between.

The chairman of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises of the Czech Republic, Karel Havlíček, emphasizes the same. According to him, practical teaching is necessary for children to develop a relationship with manual work, to "learn to work with materials" and to apply more to secondary vocational schools. The government has supported the idea, but so far only verbally. For example, the Minister of Education Kateřina Valachová mentioned that she "considers the support of polytechnic education to be very important".


How do you remember the workers?

It is not yet clear what the students should learn specifically in the workshops in order for the subject to bring the desired effect. According to the Framework Educational Program for the next school year, only the World of Work course is compulsory at the second level in the educational field Man and the World of Work, where the subject would fall. As the name suggests, it mainly helps students prepare for their future profession. Schools can choose from the other seven areas that belong here (for example Design and construction, Cultivation work and husbandry or Household operation and maintenance).

The author of this text recalls raking leaves around the school, plucking apples, a theoretical explanation of what a planer, square and rasp look like, and a few hours in the workshops, during which she made a wooden hedgehog on wheels. That was the end of her school experience with matter, and it certainly didn't occur to her at the time that she would want to go to an industrial school or trade because of it. "Unfortunately, similar practice is part of the school curriculum, with some exceptions. Pupils often take such teaching as a necessary evil," states Ilona Zelenková from the Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic.

Of course, the workload varies from school to school, and it also depends on the specific teacher. "I remember the workshops very fondly, making a tin shovel or a metal mirror frame was great, then it hung with my parents until they died," says Jan Zikeš from the Confederation of Employers' and Entrepreneurs' Unions of the Czech Republic.

So what should work activities look like in order to be useful for pupils? Is there any modernization at all in the possibilities of primary schools? And is it really true that if students have more practical teaching, their interest in technical fields will increase? We asked the experts.

Jiří Zajíček

Chairman of the Union of School Associations of the Czech Republic


It is not possible to say unequivocally whether teaching workshops has a positive effect on pupils' attitude towards technical fields. It would probably suit schools best if they had the space to offer some technical activities as an alternative to teaching other subjects, for example a second language. Pupils inclined towards work activities and technology would choose this option. But there is a problem with the equipment. I estimate that less than half the schools currently have one, and it's not cheap. Some schools used funds from operational programs, but this cannot be considered a systematic solution.

And what should the teaching look like? In my opinion, one should proceed from the simplest work, for example with wood, metal and plastic, and gradually continue with, for example, electronics or robots.

Bohumil Kartous

head of communication EDUin


Experts' eyes: Workshops at school 21. century | Pení

Of course, manual work also belongs to the field of education and training. But before we accept any solutions, it is good to realize what work means in 2017 and what it will mean in the future. The connection between technical fields and workshops at elementary schools in the imagination of some promoters is naive. If anyone thinks that this will increase the percentage of pupils eager for trades and technical disciplines, they are sorely mistaken. A similar bond does not arise in elementary school. Schools could provide pupils with an insight into how to imagine work in the 21st century. But we are not talking about an open-air museum called workshops.

A work activity could be, for example, writing an understandable e-mail, arranging a trip for the whole class, inventing a class logo or composing a class anthem. It would probably not be a problem to buy a 3D printer for every school, teach children to make components and then manually assemble the final product from them. But when the last call from European sources for workshop equipment was issued, it was not possible to buy anything with software with that money. The Czech Ministry of Education was responsible for this setting.

Radovan Burkovič

President of the Association of Employment Agencies


I agree with the introduction of workshops - if they are presented in an entertaining way and respond to modern knowledge. You won't impress anyone by making a postcard stand in the age of MMS and Facebook. The path leads through modern technology. Because otherwise we will see an effect where an elderly teacher in a blue coat will explain the difference between a file and a rasp to a punk, while students will long ago be at home churning out their workpieces from self-assembled and programmed 3D printers. I didn't experience it personally, but I read about a school where students gradually assembled a drone with a camera, learned how to charge it, control it, and then took pictures of the school from the outside and made a 3D virtual tour. Thanks to this, for example, they discovered blisters on the covering of a flat roof, where it was leaking, or birds nesting in the ventilation. And they practiced not only manual skills, but also physics, mathematics, programming and things about the climate.

Jiří Zlatuška

Chairman of the Education Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic


Mandatory workshops are an anachronism. It is important to motivate children to creatively use technical means and understand the results of natural sciences, whose practical applications co-create modern technology. The focus of success in relation to Industry 4.0 will not be manual skills or muscle power, but how we can use creative abilities, imagination and technical devices and how we can understand the effects of their use. However, the investment in such teaching would be dizzyingly high, and qualified teachers would not only not be found in large numbers for this type of activity, but especially would not be paid.

František Dobšík

Chairman of the Czech-Moravian Trade Union of Education Workers


Of course, I hope that the students' relationship with technical fields will improve thanks to practical teaching. Above all, I see the benefit of supporting apprenticeships, i.e. the teaching of crafts, especially given that our society suffers from a lack of qualified craftsmen and the concept of "golden Czech hands" is becoming history.

I have personally encountered, for example, the use of robotic kits and I really like this approach. However, these are mainly ways to diversify the teaching. In any case, the main thing should be preserved - the students should get to know different types of materials and their processing methods, for example the basics of electrical installation. Which is knowledge that will serve them no matter what major they choose.

Ilona Zelenková

coordinator of the Guilds project within the Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic


The return of workshops to primary school curricula has been promoted by the Chamber of Commerce for a long time. We consider it necessary that the relationship to technical fields develops already in elementary and even kindergarten children. The public still thinks of craft as something outdated, which is not true. Most of the craft fields today work with the most modern technology, the craft moves forward like any other field, technology and methods of processing materials change.

There has already been a good experience for several months from a project to support crafts for schools called Kdo umí, ten umí or involve parents in the game. The project was started as a pilot at the Secondary School of Construction and Gardening in Prague, and more are being added. Pupils have the opportunity to see the real work of a mason, tiler or electrician. The project could also be introduced to the second grade of elementary schools.

Jan Zikeš

head secretary of the Confederation of Employers' and Business Unions of the Czech Republic


By itself, the introduction of mandatory workshops will not help much. The workshops must be interesting, for example, they could be combined with an excursion to an attractive production, a peek into a fire station or a subway depot. There is sure to be a parent in the class who has similar options and likes to get out. At the same time, teaching should "start from the beginning", for example, how to operate an electric drill, how to fix a dripping tap, but especially safety regulations - that the hair dryer is not used in the bath, the cat is not stuck in the microwave. That is, practical things for the home and for life.

Miloš Rathouský

employer section of the Union of Industry and Transport of the Czech Republic


Even though many pupils may have a talent for these activities, they do not have the opportunity to try them in other subjects. A large number of schools have canceled the teaching of practical activities, because the educational programs no longer require it. That is why it is good to support all schools that have understood that not only intellectual knowledge but also practical experience is needed for balanced human development. I think the most important thing is that in the workshops the pupils meet real things, tools, materials and devices and then see the results of their work. So it can be both classic work with materials and construction or programming of various machines. The most motivating thing is when they can also compete with their creations.

Monika Junicke

Raiffeisenbank analyst


I agree, students should develop all-round, from an early age. For some students, workshops can help them find a connection to technical fields and influence their choice of secondary school. In my opinion, for example, excursions to the companies themselves or to the employment office are important, where children can see what each field entails in practice. But to bring a little economic perspective into it -. If technical fields are seen as a second-rate job that is not adequately valued on the market, children or rather their parents will hardly make decisions for them, and workshops, however modern, will not have much of an effect.

Jiří Šteg


Relations to technical fields would (perhaps) not deteriorate after the introduction of compulsory work activities, but I do not see a direct link there. The technical field is too broad a term that can include as much aircraft construction as power plant design. "Workers" should rather prepare pupils for the minor problems of manual work that they will encounter in everyday life. Some children have no idea how plants are grown. Still others do not know that an iron drill bit is different from a concrete or wood drill bit and have no idea why that is. And finding out why the light isn't on without looking like a (self)-murder attempt is beyond the capabilities of a large number of today's students. I would see the benefit in that.