Systems, symbols and identity: An exploration of the construction of national identities in Czech schools through educational policies and practices from 1989-2014

McMullan, Kirsten Jean (2020) Systems, symbols and identity: An exploration of the construction of national identities in Czech schools through educational policies and practices from 1989-2014. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This study explores the relationship between established conceptions of Czech national identity and their reproduction in the national education system of the Czech Republic. It has been observed that the collapse of communism led to renegotiation of identities during the transformation period (Grossman, 2002), and in many cases, including in the Czech Republic, this manifested itself in a resurgence of nationalism (Cakl and Wollman, 2005). Education has often been assumed to play an important role in establishing and reproducing affiliation to a nation (Gellner, 1983; Hobsbawm, 1992) but the specific mechanisms involved in the Czech education system are unclear.
To explore how the education system of the Czech Republic navigated the process of political and economic transformation, and to investigate the impact that changes in education had on the image of the nation presented in schools, this study analyses a range of empirical data using a grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 1983). The data sources were: key policy documents; a series of textbooks for history and citizenship education; and interviews with teachers and students who had been involved in the Czech education system since 1989. It focuses on the latter years of compulsory education (grades 6-9, when pupils are aged between approximately 11 and 15 years of age).
The findings of the study show how assumptions made about Czech national identity subtly affected the formulation and delivery of education policy after 1989. They show how, despite the introduction of policies in 2004 to make education more inclusive, attitudinal barriers based on an exclusive, ethnic concept of the nation made effective implementation of these policies difficult, allowing structural inequalities that had become embedded in the system under communism, particularly regarding the education of Roma pupils, to remain in place. It also demonstrates how efforts to re-orientate the nation towards Western Europe create an image of the Czech nation that is based on ethnicity and shared history, and whilst affiliated towards Western Europe, remains exclusionary towards other ethnic groups. In the conclusions, some implications for the production of pedagogical materials, teacher training, and promoting inclusion in Czech schools are considered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Czech Republic, Czechia, Education, Schools, National Identity, Post-communism.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
P Language and Literature > PG Slavic, Baltic, Albanian languages and literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Comparative Literature
Funder's Name: PhD Scholarship in Czech Studies, University of Glasgow
Supervisor's Name: Čulík, Doctor Jan and Odena, Doctor Oscar
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Ms Kirsten Jean McMullan
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81934
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2021 12:33
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2021 18:08
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81934

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