Working in the school system one notices the traces left by last centuries ideologies, especially in the relationships and freedom of the people: a witness from Prague.

For a few years I have been teaching Math in a high school in Prague. In order to teach in the school, I participated in a preparatory class, where I had the fortune of meeting Mr. Hejny. More than eighty years old, but with the spirit of a child, he introduced into the Czech Republic schools a method of teaching Math known as “The Hejny Method”, which seeks to give the students a more active role in learning. He was teaching in the elementary schools until 1989, but with the fall of Communism he was nominated professor of pedagogy in Prague.
Under Communism, he told us, the goal of the school was to instill in the students the idea that it was impossible to learn without following the instructions of the teacher, just as it was impossible in normal life to work without following the indications from the State. Today, the consequences of that system are evident. Kids passively wait for the teacher’s instructions, not trying to understand the reason behind what they are learning, but focusing entirely on what they have to do.
I feel fortunate to have met this man who was passionate about teaching, a lover of human freedom and the use of reason, capable of being excited for each of our questions, objections, or suggestions. His career of teaching came about from watching his own children study. He had no intention of changing the scholastic system; however, today most of the elementary schools in the Czech Republic use his books.
His example is similar to our approach to mission. The communist regime influenced people’s freedom as well as their relationships. Suspicion and individualism weakened human relationships, leaving people in isolation, susceptible to easy manipulation. Whenever an ideology like Communism collapses it leaves an atmosphere of scepticism and cynicism. We are not asked to erase this burden from their history, but to begin something new and beautiful from where we are, to bring them a method, which was Christ’s method: come and see.
Our mission is made up of simple things: the enthusiasm for entering a classroom and seeing our students, the fascination of a life really shared, the reasonableness of what we say and do, the sincerity with which we live friendship, the desire that others might know that which makes our life great and interesting. We are asked to sow generously, aware that we may not see the fruits of our work because our reward is already present in the act of sowing.
In the end, from the simple faithfulness to our vocation many little things happen: a boy who is left by his girlfriend discovers a new path opening up; a student finds that he is welcomed into our house in a way his family has never welcomed him; a young couple discovers through our friendship the possibility of not stopping in front of the difficulties of the other, and the possibility of forgiveness; a friend lives the death of a parent without desperation, but certain of a good that is present even in the pain.

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