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Teacher of the Year

  • Date: 31 Mar, 2008 at 10:37PM,
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  • Dcery

    By Jana Svehlova 

    My friend, a gynecologist who specialized in treatment of ovarian cancer, once said: “I influence lives of just a few women, but teachers influence so many lives.” How true when it comes to Hana Duskova, a history professor at a High School in the historical city Hradec Kralove.

    Hana Duskova was teaching history during the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. She is still teaching history in the post communist Czech Republic. Not an easy task. The winners write history. What was considered good under communism is considered bad now, and vice versa.

I met Professor Duskova at an Oral History Course on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Prague just a few weeks ago. All the participants stated with confidence their reasons for attending the course although the concept of Oral History is only now becoming part of the academic curriculum. Dana Duskova stood out. She stood out because she admitted (not a typical Czech trait), “I don’t know how to teach Oral History even though I am very interested in that method. I am here to learn more about it.”

Because I used open-ended questions while interviewing descendants of Czech victims from the Stalinist era, the Editor of our web site www.dcery.cz who is interested in the education of Czech students, asked Professor Duskova whether she would like us to come to her school to present what Oral History can achieve in practice.

A few e-mails later, Editor Vitvarova and I arrived in Hradec Kralove. The sign for the seminar read “Daughters of the Enemy.” Although 30 students signed up, almost 70 showed up; some were turned away. I doubt that the title of the lecture attracted the students. It is my belief that so many showed up because the organizer was Professor Dana Duskova, the dedicated teacher who gives up her Saturday afternoons to learn how to improve her teaching methods. She could easily pursue the typical weekend activities of her many colleagues such as gathering mushrooms in the woods, hiking in the beautiful surrounding countryside, or simply do nothing. For me, Dana Duskova is “Teacher of the Year.”