University education

Czech Republic: Practice teaches best

| Author / Editor: Roman Dvorak, Editor-in-Chief / Franziska Breunig

Education at a technical university should be based on practical experiences.
Education at a technical university should be based on practical experiences. (Source: info.cz)

One of the most frequent topics in the Czech Republic these days is the professional level of teachers at technical universities.

In our case, a basic problem is that most of the university teachers have no practical experience – they never worked in a production enterprise. I cannot imagine that I could teach anything starting from basic grammar and mathematics up to the highest level without knowing what they will be good for. Practice needs feedback without which I am sure any real system cannot work. Of course, this does not mean that research should not proceed in all fields of basic research – discovering “new worlds“ – in spite of the fact that at the beginning we almost always do not know “what it will be good for“. History gives us enough examples how such research is important – and not only in technology. In my opinion, it is necessary that the proportions of all fields are balanced. This is pragmatically expressed by the quotation: “Nothing is more practical than a good theory“.

What the students expect

Like in other fields the Gaussian curve can be applied for students. It is really a great pleasure to work with the top 20% of them and this is also a great feedback incentive for all real teachers. The present serious problem is that the longtime existing uncontrolled interest in technological disciplines and not making sophisticated technological disciplines accessible to all those who did not manage to be engaged elsewhere is, in my opinion, responsible for a decline of standards. And not only the fact that the criterion for funding university education in the Czech Republic is the number and not the quality of students and graduates. Consequently, we are unfortunately encountered with the fact that most students rather uncompromisingly require formulas and solving with algorithms instead of conveying knowledge of experience which in practice as future technologists they will need most. And this pressure reduces the standards even for top students. The market will not be able to find a solution to this problem as our politicians have asserted for many years. In this respect I would like to quote Prof. Hosnedl: “Today we consume olive oil from olive trees planted by the grandfathers of those who now pick olives for us from these trees and in turn they are planting olive trees which will be ready for picking by our grandchildren“. This cycle is unfortunately longer than a parliamentary term. And this, in my opinion, is why obviously also the perception has slipped away that the main task and target of universities is to prepare generations of high-quality university educated creative experts who should further develop the best that has made our country famous worldwide. In optimum proportions this should “provide living“ for all those a healthy and successful society needs.

Longtime development

I realize very strongly that every useful human profession should be approached with respect and humility. A monoculture and the violation of any kind of proportion, I believe, have never and in any sphere contributed to longtime development but exactly the other way round.

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