Juraj Hipš is a Slovak teacher, expert in the field of education and teaching methodology, and a community worker. In 2000, he founded NGO Živica, which is now one of the largest GCE and education-focused NGOs in Slovakia.
How many arguments have there been over the years about how the curriculum was impossible to reduce? Nothing could be omitted. Children have to know what is paronomasia and epizeuxis. How could they live without it? They had to be able to define in which forest layer polypodiopsidas and casuarinas were found, and whether Mother Earth was closer to the Sun in aphelion or perihelion. It does not matter that they could break their tongue on these terms at the age of ten.
How many scientific disputes were there about the way the school system will collapse without grades? What would an eight-grader do if he didn't see digits on the report card? This has to be verified for years, measured, assessed at pedagogical symposiums, and incorporated into guidelines. Giving only verbal reviews? God, you want a pedagogical revolution!
How much debate there was about how we have to make some pupils repeat the school year? The worthless do not deserve better. We will slam them with a failing grade, and they will understand how important the school is. Never mind that it had never worked as a motivation for learning.
And then the virus came. In a month, it had succeeded in what no minister was able to do in decades. Suddenly, the curriculum can be reduced, and no one shouts how stupid our children will become. Nobody protests what will children do without the paronomasia.
Suddenly, we are publicly talking about how we cannot take the grades dead-seriously. It is no longer the holy grail of education. An instrument to keep those naughty children alert enough to learn.
No one will fail and repeat this year. And everybody understands it somehow, and nobody really knows why it has never been possible before. The verbal evaluation is suddenly not a fad of looney alternativists, but a serious recommendation of the state.
If we will one day talk about who initiated the reform of education in Slovakia, teams of pedagogical experts, well-known professors, or long-term reforms were not enough.
A virus helped them.
It did what seemed impossible a few weeks ago. It is strange, but we will eventually applaud Minister Corona for real changes in education. We should not forget these changes, even after we dethrone it.