Page: 487-501 Author: Kasperová, D. Key words: Czechoslovakia, educational reform, interwar period, new education, pedagogical theory, progressivism, quantitative pedagogy, rationalisation, reform of the society, Otokar Chlup, Václav Příhoda
The interwar educational reform discussion in Czechoslovakia represented and still represents a significant topic of educational research. We may ask why the “closed chapter” of the historical period of interwar pedagogy still excites research interest, and by no means only by pedagogical historians. One possible explanation is the fact that in this case it is not the only one of many examples of exemplary efforts to reform schools. The previous research studies showed that it is necessary to read the interwar discussion of school reform, besides other things, as an example of the influence of scientific dispute on the direction of pedagogy as a science in Czechoslovakia. It was a dispute over a quantitative or empirical approach and normatively- or philosophically-based anchoring.
The dispute over the concept of pedagogical science was not the only disputed point in the discussion about the interwar school reform. The reform programme based largely on the writing of Václav Příhoda’s Rationalisation of Education (1930) should be seen in the wider context – in the “dispute” about the concept of the role of a child in modern society, in the dispute about the concept of societal reform.
The study aims to show that the so-called “Příhodovská” reform sought the means of quantitatively-based pedagogy, based on the concepts of pragmatism and behaviourism, to achieve “higher” goals than “just” the scientisation of pedagogy and the formation of the Republican school.
The study points out in its analysis the concept of rationalisation on linking the reform of schools and other areas of reform of the social life of society. It is obvious that the dispute over school reform was not just a theoretical scientific dispute about the concept of education as a science, but also a dispute over societal reform. This puts the Czech example on an important level. As it is similar in the German, English, French or Italian pedagogical discussion, it appears that also in the Czech case school reform in the interwar period should be seen in the context of the broader discussion about societal reform with the use of the so-called new education.