What a fascinating thing it is to see Education defeated by ignorance. One would have thought that the whole purpose of sending Czech kids (or any kids) to school was to put ignorance in the seat at the back of the room, wearing an appropriate ‘dunce’s cap.’
Alas, it is not so. Learning and knowledge has been defeated here, not by the kids or teachers unwilling to advance what is known in the world and not even by the Czech Minister of Education—it’s been flushed down the school-toilet by parents.
Let me set the scene. Daniela Lazarove, writing for Radio.cz, September 12, 2012:
“A project aimed at presenting the history and culture of Islam to Czech students in view of building a multicultural, tolerant society has hit the rocks. The Czech Education Ministry announced on Thursday it was withdrawing its support for the project after receiving numerous complaints from parents.”
Well, that sounds pretty serious. And just what were these ‘complaints’ based upon? Mostly total ignorance of the project, it would seem, coupled with a ‘fear petition’ mounted on the website of a group which launched a public “NO to Islam in the Czech Republic” initiative. Despite a Thirty Years War fought over No to Catholicism, here we are again—this time enabled by our new friend the Internet and 25,000 signatures.
Mark Twain had a thing or two to say about ignorance:
“I would rather have my ignorance than another man’s knowledge, because I have so much more of it.”
According to Lazarove’s article,
“The project Muslims Thorough the Eyes of Czech Students took experts and students from the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University two years to prepare. It aims to acquaint students with the culture and religion of Islam, giving them greater insight into the way of life of the Muslim community. The project received support from the Czech Education Ministry and while it was voluntary, schools were expected to make wide use of it in promoting a greater understanding of foreign cultures. Now, the ministry has abruptly withdrawn that support and the fate of the project, which has just come to completion, remains uncertain. Education Minister Marcel Chládek gave the media a terse explanation:
“Given how this project was realized, and given the concerns voiced by parents, experts in the field recommended that we withdraw support for it.”
I’ll bet it was terse. Wouldn’t you love to be a mouse in the corner and know who those ‘experts in the field’ were? Bronislav Ostřanský, from the Oriental Studies Department of the Czech Academy of Sciences, was apparently not among them, saying “the information presented is based on facts. It is a didactic hand-book and it is absolutely in order.”
Be that as it may, although the book is available on request by schools, the majority of Czech kids will be prevented from knowing anything about Islamic culture, at a time when the radical 1% have all but hijacked Islam. Those parents, by the way, have not had a chance (or shown any apparent interest) to see the project and judge for themselves.
Thus these signatory parents, by their dedication to Twain’s definition, will thereby pass along their own personal failure of inquiry to their children—making them captive to the racism and prejudice that allows hate-sites to exist and flourish on the Internet. Not a very positive force in times when understanding others has never been more important to the peace and freedom of the world.
But then, what the hell, they’re only kids.
published: 10. 11. 2014