The Impact of Distance Learning on the Presentation of Historical Content at the Primary Level of Primary Schools
In this paper we consider the impact of the pandemic situation and the associated distance education of children in families. We present what the impact of distance education is on the presentation of history-themed content at the primary school level. We discuss the situation in families in relation to the education of children in the home environment at the time of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the whole world. It has brought fear, insecurity, health, and life concerns among people and has affected the economies of all countries to a great extent. Life has slowed down. Shops, theatres, cinemas, museums, and galleries closed. Festivals, concerts, exhibitions, various other cultural events were cancelled, and sport and tourism were put on 'stop watch'.
The coronavirus affected everything and everyone, perhaps most significantly education itself. The various changes that were suddenly showered on the sphere of education from every side were not only impractically dynamic, ineffective, and often sewn with a "hot needle", but they also erased for a certain (rather long) period the personal contact between teacher and student. Attendance shifted from the school desk to the home environment and distance learning became part of everyday experience. Day by day, schools have had to face a challenge that has been discussed for years – innovating the education system with regard to digital technologies, as progress cannot be stopped. In an accelerated mode, it was necessary to look for solutions and adapt to the new situation. Teachers had to learn how to work in the online space, to start actively using the Internet and the various digital technologies that would enable them to effectively handle the modified educational content and its new form.
Distance education has brought many distresses as most families did not and still do not have the required modern technology or access to the internet. In fact, the first wave of the pandemic has taught us only that distance education cannot compare with, let alone adequately replace, face-to-face education any time in the near future. It can, however, be turned into a practical supplement that will find its place in the school system, but it will never be equal to face-to-face contact alone.
However, for distance learning to be effective, it is necessary to think about the many factors and variables that enter into the somewhat impersonal relationship between student and teacher in an online space. It is not only the motivation of the students themselves, the intensive use of individual qualities such as self-control, perseverance, independence, responsibility, or planning, but also critical thinking, financial and digital literacy, as well as the work and availability of special digital platforms that are directly designed for this type of education. These, according to American professor and distance education specialist A. Froster (Drexel University), contains highly personalised content, to which the whole form of learning is then adapted. The latter can offer different combinations of tools, technologies, or ways of increasing the difficulty of the learning itself to a single student. Froster himself argues that if a student turns on ZOOM, Google Meet or MS Teams, it does not automatically mean that he or she is actively engaged in a quality form of online learning. Success is hidden in the key by which the learning platforms themselves operate and how intensive pedagogical, technical, or administrative support they offer in the online learning process.
Since not only complexity but also independence enters the demand, which assumes that it is the learner who has all the necessary materials from the educational institution for the so-called self-study, it is both time-consuming and necessary to arrange the distance education system to suit all types of educational institutions. Perhaps for this particular reason, parents, teachers, and individual professionals, perhaps even the students themselves, have asked the following question: "How to effectively deal with the negative impact of online education on the human mental health in terms of motivation and socialization itself?"
The second wave of the pandemic closed the school gates again. Pupils and students were again forced to continue classes at home. Compared to the first wave, schools and teachers have been able to prepare much better, but no one knows how much longer the pandemic will continue and how quickly workable solutions will be found, as it is difficult to move the learning from class to class and to lower the demands on the profile of a graduate, especially in primary education. Nor can teaching be done only on current modern platforms such as ZOOM, Google Meet, Teams, Edupage and others of their ilk, which have so far been introduced in our country. Present teaching is an integral part of education, whether in kindergartens or at the primary level, and it cannot be replaced exceptionally by distance learning. However, ways and solutions must be found to best deliver quality teaching to pupils and to provide the same quality of motivation for teachers who are more or less floundering in the supply of attractive digital platforms, in a situation where they are once again being forced to move teaching online.
Is it even possible to fully educate primary school pupils if we know that they are at a critical stage of personal development that shapes their personality and sets the stage for their personal growth and profile as a primary school graduate? How do we actually view the change in the family system, which distance education has greatly influenced, often completely altered? Can we ever define distance education in such a way that it fully includes all the components of full-time teaching even with the climatic conditions of a particular classroom? Can we even say that this new form of learning is effective, delivering the required results in every educational area, and especially in the first stage of primary schools, which are designed to cover all the skills and key competences of the pupil, not only in the process of his socialisation but also in the process of school integration? How are the different roles of pupils, teachers, parents, and assistants changing as they suddenly work with the limited possibilities of the online space? What impact does this space also have on the interpretation, presentation, and subsequent consolidation of specific curriculum?
Family and school basic socialization factors
In the process of socialization, two basic factors play an important role – family and school. According to professional literature, the family has always been considered the basic building unit of any human society. First and foremost, it is about the raising and care of children, but it is also about the integration of a person into the culture and society in which he or she lives. However, the family alone cannot fulfil the functions involved in raising and educating a child, so the school takes over some of the tasks.
Experts agree that the school is a specific organization where the process of education and raising belongs above all. It is a long-term process that is implemented in the form of group teaching. The school, its environment, its classmates, and the people around play an extremely important role in the life of the pupil (child). Becoming a social being is not only a question of raising and education, but also a process of socialization, in which it is a transformation of a person from a biological being into a social being [21, p. 29].
The times in which we find ourselves have forced us to resort to changes in every area of our lives. These changes also concern school. The era of distance learning, so-called distance education, has arrived. It is a form of learning that is essentially about pupils studying independently. Direct pupil - teacher contact does not take place and the traditional classroom is replaced by a lesson in the online world. Different technologies and media of communication are used to present, verify and also test the progress of the learning process. The history curriculum at the primary level should also be of particular importance in profiling pupils to learn about the most important periods, events, and personalities in the history of Slovakia, from the earliest times to the present day. And also, to lead pupils to a healthy patriotism and respect for history and the significant events of our history. Teaching on historical topics should be included in the fourth-grade homeland study curriculum. Unfortunately, however, I have to say that there is a minimum of topics with the history of Slovakia, not to mention the fact that the content of these topics is not always plausible and, moreover, some particularly significant events and personalities are missing. Therefore, the main goal of the teacher is to assign tasks that students can do independently and not only online, to check the completion of the assigned tasks, to evaluate them, to conduct consultations and to motivate their students. The quality of online education is currently one of the main topics in professional circles, as well as in the general public. Increasingly, we are encountering increasing demands from parents and professionals – pedagogues for the quality of online teaching and thus for a comprehensive approach to addressing the issue of quality of schools and education of students in them. It should be emphasized that the role of the textbook of history as a didactic medium is not to deepen the scientific knowledge of historical reality, as it is mostly the case so far. It is essential that more attention be placed on texts with historical themes for primary school pupils. The impact on the presentation of the content of the history-themed curriculum at the primary level of primary school during distance learning should be given special attention.
In today's learning society, a lot of information is disseminated primarily through the computer network and in education through so-called e-learning. In the so-called computer age, it might seem that traditional books and textbooks will disappear. There is a growing number of people who clearly prefer data and information obtained from 'e-space', where they increasingly rely on the virtual world of cyberspace to provide them with this information. On the other hand, it is clearly evident that the development of computing facilities also benefits e-learning and thus clearly enriches the learner. But, as we have already mentioned, the new learning aid will not completely replace the previous one, but will complement, improve some of its functions. So, it is in this case, the virtual world of cyberspace can purposefully complement some of the educational functions of a book, a textbook. Human will remain a biological creature in the future and thus cannot exist only in the virtual world of computer devices. Just as the material for recording information has changed throughout history, so in today's computer age the traditional material of the book – paper is being supplemented by the "material" of virtual space for recording the necessary data and information in so-called e-learning. Thus, we can speak of changes in the form of sharing the function a textbook performs and the value system it represents rather than its demise.
So how to connect two completely different worlds – the biological world with the technological world? And yet in such a way that both components are balanced, and their important integrity is preserved?
Jessica Heppen of the American Institutes for Research cannot offer us a clear answer. However, her research has at least partly outlined the problem of distance learning. Working with the Chicago Public Schools, she organized research in which she selected ninth graders who had failed math from 17 public schools and divided them into two groups. As preparation for remediation, she provided one group with distance education and the other group with face-to-face classroom instruction. The results showed that the students with online preparation scored several times lower than the students who received classroom instruction .
One can absolutely agree with the opinion of Viliam Kratochvil [12, p. 231], who writes that "history textbooks are a part of this complex and changing system as one of the most distinctive elements of school history. In the specific environment of the school, they are the basic didactic medium for learning and teaching historical information, which is transformed in it to correspond to history and its specific scientific knowledge, to the possibilities of the pupils and to the conditions of teaching. In this context, however, it must be stressed that the role of the history textbook as a didactic medium is not to deepen scientific knowledge of historical reality, as has been the case for the most part to date”.
Also, on the School Education Gateway platform , an opinion survey on distance learning in Europe was conducted from 9th April to 10th May, attracting 4,859 respondents, 86 % of whom were teachers and school leaders. For the majority of respondents, this was their first experience of distance learning, and they were unpleasantly surprised by the innovation – experimenting with learning practices. Participants were asked to select five challenges from list that they faced when moving to distance learning. The list largely agreed on: access to technology by both pupils and teachers; the increased workload and stress of working from home; keeping pupils motivated and engaged in the online space; engaging pupils from socially disadvantaged households, engaging challenging pupils and supporting pupils with special educational needs or disabilities. When asked what would help teachers the most, individual respondents said it would be more free resources and tools from educational technology companies. When asked if they thought schools would be different than they were before the pandemic, most said yes, with more online learning than before.
We see that teaching and learning online is a new experience for many, and this challenge brings with it both pros and cons. As mentioned in the introduction of the essay, many families do not have access to modern technology. Having a computer and internet connection at home is not a norm for everyone. If a family does have a computer, in most cases it is used by the parent for their own work. Multiple pupil families with several pupils and only one device are also a problem. Aligning the time so that everyone is on their school schedule and accommodating the teacher and joining in at a given hour is sometimes difficult and stressful. Another problem is a teacher who is not IT skilled, doesn't know how to use digital tools and can only communicate with their pupils through primary technology functions. In this case, the material may not be understood, and students are demotivated by this form of teaching. Distance learning can be challenging. It takes a lot of energy, time, skill, and creativity to work online and create digital materials.
Historical content in the textbook of national science
We can show this also in the textbook for 4th year of primary schools. It provides information from the category of social science disciplines in the field of geography, demography, natural science, but also history. We can agree that the content analysis of the historical knowledge of the textbook is of great importance in terms of the picture of historical reality and at the same time it reminds us that history is one of the dimensions of the present, but it also helps to orient oneself in the future [2, p.147]. It is not about factual knowledge or factual knowledge, but about a certain construction of the teaching text in terms of fulfilling the pedagogical-psychological goal in the context of the given historical reality.
As a historical-didactic text, Jeismann [11, p.41-83] also understands a textbook with a historical theme, which refers to such a textbook as a special type of didactic-historical text. This is probably the most prevalent type of historical literature, because textbooks are published in much larger editions than other historical literature and thus reach a large number of recipients of historical information during compulsory schooling. Thus, a textbook with historical themes becomes a relatively high carrier and co-creator of historical awareness in modern society.
Each textbook is a didactic (learning) text designed to help pupils achieve their learning objectives. A textbook of homeland study subject, as a certain set of pedagogical texts, also helps to meet the educational objectives that are important in education. The first goal is the educational one, i.e., the system of knowledge, the second goal is the educational goal, which has an impact on the attitudes, opinions, and values of pupils, and we must also not forget about the regulative goal (it influences the pupil's actions directly in the teaching process) [6, p.13].
Textbooks that contain history information, thus also textbooks of history for the 4th year of primary schools, should consider the level of psychomotor development of the pupil at the first level of primary schools [13 p.49], also the sense of chronology – the ability to orient the pupil on the timeline, the adequacy of the scope of information in the given topic, the clarity of the treatment of the historical topic supplemented by appropriate visual material. The content of historical information in the textbook presents values and attitudes in a given historical period of society, and thus has an effect on the acquisition or consolidation of value orientation, and also on the attitudes or prejudices of the pupils who acquire the historical information . A very important part is also the formulation of the assigned tasks, so that the pupil, after acquiring cognitive information, is able to creatively process this knowledge in such a way that the consolidation of historical knowledge develops his critical thinking.
Primary education has a specific role in the education of each pupil, providing a more holistic understanding of the foundations of literacy. The aims, organisation and methods of education are different from those of the upper classes at school. This is mainly influenced by the fact that pupils are taught all subjects by one teacher, usually from Year 1 to Year 4, who knows his/her pupils well and thus holistically perceives their development and the educational process less as informative and more as formative. If he decided to follow the path of humanistically guided education, he could also enforce this idea and change the teaching in his classroom without depending on others and on centralized curriculum policies. Innovative approaches to teaching with historical themes were predominantly models of a child-centred approach. Therefore, they have encountered a barrier at the lower secondary level and other higher levels where teachers are tied to the content of their subject. They perceive the procedural aspect and the problems therein as less essential. During distance education, primary teachers could more easily integrate teaching content with historical topics, develop cross-curricular relationships, and deal with the temporal organisation of teaching, despite centrally set curricula and syllabuses.
In order to meet the given educational objectives, the structure of the textbook also plays a very important role. The system of handling both the textual and the non-textual part of the subject, i.e., the verbal and the non-verbal components, is very important here. It is necessary to structure the text in such a way as to motivate and educate the pupil and to teach him to think critically when working out the various tasks, exercises, and examples.
Historical knowledge, which is a part of the textbook of history, in the context of the historical-didactic text, is also a carrier of historical consciousness in modern society and in the pupils of the first stage of primary schools. Thus, if its content is inappropriately reduced and artificially adapted to certain conditions in a certain situation (the first wave of the pandemic required a radical reduction of the curriculum, as the various digital platforms were unable to respond adequately to the demands of teachers or pupils), this will result in a long-term risk of deepening the knowledge in the whole classroom. Not just for pupils with certain learning difficulties or from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
A number of experts point to this particular fact in education in the longer-term closure of educational institutions. A study in the Netherlands of pupils aged between 4 and 18 showed widening inequalities between children from disadvantaged families and those of higher socio-economic status. It also highlights inequalities between schools in one country and their potential material and technical provision for online learning. Similar conclusions are reported by the Czech School Inspectorate, where distance education in primary and secondary schools during the COVID-19 pandemic showed substantial differences between regions of the Czech Republic in the level of school management, school access to teaching and also in the conditions for distance education. The shortcomings in distance education are also highlighted by the Eduroma study from Slovakia, which confirms that pupils from marginalised Roma communities (MRC), despite the availability of technical conveniences, due to their home situation and lack of privacy, have difficulties with online learning and also lack pedagogical guidance from the teacher. Pupils from the MRC who lack technical facilities and are not supported by the environment have not been regularly engaged in distance education .
Psychological impact of school closures
A lot of research has also highlighted the psychological impact of the closure of educational institutions and measures to ensure social distance on children and young people. Children and young people have had to cope with the loss of personal contact with relatives and peers, as well as a reduction in communication with the teacher or school assistant. There was also a reported incidence of negative emotions, frustration, boredom arising from feeling trapped in the home, a sense of lack of personal space and loss of routine. There was also an increase in experiencing anxiety and uncertainty about school and the teaching process, fear of assessment and anxiety about coping with a new way of teaching. Such a situation negatively impacts children and adolescents' mental health and increases their psychosocial stress. The incidence of depression among young people has increased and an increase in physical and psychological violence has been confirmed in almost all countries.
On the other hand, distance learning has its advantages. You can study anywhere; you don't have to travel and commute. Students can sometimes learn better in a home environment. Also, pupils who find it difficult to present themselves in front of others, who are worried about embarrassment and failure, may find this form of teaching more suitable. Online learning has been with us for a few months now and has become something of a phenomenon. Teachers have joined forces to create sites to help with online learning. Different groups are springing up on social networking sites where they can access a wealth of information. Many other institutions, IT companies, television, bookshops, and artists are also helping.
But even these efforts are not enough to make online learning more enthusiastic and freer from uncertainty about the impact it will have on the very experience of students, their teachers, and parents. It is therefore very important to talk about the changes that both types of education bring with them, openly, critically and with respect for the consumer who is ultimately affected. In the introduction, a number of serious questions outline the direction in which the content of this essay will take. In order to be able to answer each question adequately, we must first briefly define the change in the structure of the classical family from which the child comes to the educational institution, and in which he or she also continues to work intensively (whether in the offline space or the online space). At the same time, we have to delineate the profile of the primary education graduate, since the essay is based on the concept of the dissertation thesis, which is primarily to assess "the impact of distance education on the presentation of the content of the curriculum with historical themes at the primary level of primary school". We must not forget the change of roles in educational institutions in the pupil – teacher, pupil – pupil, pupil – parent, parent – mother relationship, as well as the profile of the classroom, which will serve us in the comparative part formed by the list of arguments for and against as one of the other important examples on which the issue around the change of the form of education caused by the pandemic situation can be built.
While second grade of primary school can tell of very satisfactory results in distance education, first grade of primary declare in with large differences, but these need to be eliminated first in the home environment. Pupils' unpreparedness and indiscipline during distance education also stems from the very absence of discipline and careful planning. A major problem for pupils is understanding the differences that learning in the classroom and learning in the online space bring – when two types of classes enter the learning process – online class/offline class (self-paced learning in the home environment) and their common language. Therefore, parents in particular are asked to actively enter the teaching process and create a practical "school desk at my home" for their children, i.e., a place dedicated exclusively to online learning. Such a workplace also requires an intense interest in the way in which online learning takes place, as children may not be new to this form of learning but have not had such an intensive experience of it. Therefore, support and a helping hand from a parent are the first important step towards motivation to master distance learning without unnecessary stress and terror of personal performance evaluation by a teacher who only represents the educational institution.
Creating an environment supportive to learning with all the materials to help them better manage individual homework assignments, or praise highlighting their specific efforts, not least repeated reminders that they are learning from home, will help to establish new family rules and habits. Finally, the online environment itself has its own ethics, and the impression that is left in the online space depends on it. A shared daily routine during a pandemic should form the basis for good family functioning. Activities should be adapted not only to the timing of the online education, but also to the mental health of the child itself. It is important that time spent together (e.g., nature walks, art activities, playing board games) should incorporate controlled breaks in the online space, as many relaxing activities have unfortunately moved to this space (gaming, live streaming, chatting, following news on social networks). Distance learning, in particular, brings a different level of social interaction to a large extent, due to the fact that the child is isolated from his/her peers. Encouraging the child to maintain intensive contact with his or her classmates helps the child not to lose the desire to socialise, especially at such a critical time as the social development of younger school age.
Joining school, which represents a significant milestone in the life of an individual, the child becomes a member in a new social group. The teacher, not just the parents, also takes on an important role in the socialisation process. The child begins to acquire moral and social norms of behaviour; the teacher often represents a greater authority for the child than the parent himself. The school is therefore another important institution, after the family, shaping the child's socialisation process – it helps to implant in the child the socialising conditions that help him to adapt to school, pupils, and teachers and to have a positive perception of his own personality.
"It is clear from practice that at least for the first two years the pupil does not question the teacher's authority at all, accepts and respects him, and is often more dominant than the parent. Gradually, however, the teacher, as an unquestioning authority, falls into the background. This is due to the fact that the school collective in pupils of younger school age has a significant social influence. Different social groups are formed – informally outside the school, formally in the classroom. A social consciousness begins to develop among the pupils, which constitutes the consciousness of the class and the pupils. In the upper classes (from the third grade onwards) a class collective or grouping also begins to form – a leader, members on the periphery of this group, middle members, and the very core of the group . Therefore, the pupil – teacher and pupil – pupil relationships also have a strong influence on the formation of personality at this age. The basic mechanism and activity of pupil formation is learning and experience itself (Daniel, et al., 2005), as the pupil actively and naturally learns solidarity, interaction, cooperation, conversation, and deepens his/her value orientations from preschool age. In the middle school age, the influence of the class, the children's group, over the educator prevails. In this period, various social roles are deepened and naturally develop. "The pupil of the first year develops the role of pupil and classmate, since it is completely new to him/her, he or she acquires the role of the teacher as an authority. Pupil begins to distinguish the role of girl and boy, woman and man. The child deepens friendships in the classroom, a collective is formed. The development of self-socialization begins, the pupil imitates classmates, teachers, older pupils and complements these activities. He begins to form his own identity. Play, as the main activity in pre-school, also in the process of socialisation, is replaced by real work at school and on homework .
Online teaching in the family
The transfer of teaching to the online space has undermined the integrity of the groups formed, the relationship between pupil – teacher and pupil – pupil has been eroded, specifically the social roles adopted, the perception of authority has changed, which is no longer significant even with the teacher with whom the child came into daily contact, and last but not least, the very friendships that the child was slowly creating and strengthening in the collective have been torn apart. The formation of the pupil's personality at a younger school age was indirectly transferred from the educational institution to the shoulders of the parent(s), and thus to the family, in which the child builds up a healthy self-confidence, learns respect and common rules, has a daily routine and a space created not only for learning but also for spending free time. Although we consider the family to be a social unit, a social group that logically undergoes its own development in line with changing social conditions, it reflects directly and indirectly the state and possibilities of society in its activities. Of all social institutions, it is the least subject to direct management by society.
However, recent critiques of the family have indeed shown that the institution that was considered perhaps the most stable creation of our civilization has changed substantially since at least the end of the First World War and continues to change. It is changing not marginally, but in its most fundamental characteristics. The changes have been observable in recent decades, most of them having their impulses at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, with an acceleration after the Second World War .
Even Možný [17 p. 21] argues that the shattering of the concept of the family as a morphostatic institution derives from a situation in which parents were the binding and more or less the only role models for the rising generations, and accumulated experience was passed on by slow socialization from parent to child. Thus, in the context of family changes, we tend to derive the changes from the image of the so-called “traditional family”.
"The development of the family is gaining more and more dynamics; it is more and more marked by interventions from outside" [7, pp. 5-6].
We can state that the social institution of the family is undergoing changes in the contemporary individualized society: it is changing its form and structure, acquiring new functions, demographic processes, the sphere of parental roles, family relations, etc. are changing. The contemporary family is often referred to as postmodern in sociological literature [15 p. 12].
Historically, the family has undergone considerable changes. It has evolved from the patriarchal family to the two-generation, nuclear family; from the traditional family to the modern to the postmodern family; from the family with fixed roles for men and women to the partnership family. All of these changes have profoundly affected the scope and structure of the family, and thus the richness of relationships within the family. They worked with the acceptance or abandonment of a particular system of family values, division of labour and stability of social roles of men and women, fathers, and mothers, as well as particular forms of family cohabitation .
Distance education, which has been a part of educational institutions, especially at the primary level, where a critical turning point in an individual's development occurs, is not only dependent on the changes that the family is currently facing. Although many of the factors for the negative impact of distance education at the primary level arise from changes in the structure and understanding of the traditional family model, insights into the intra-familial division of labour and parental role models also influence the success of this form of learning. According to Chaloupkova , there are approaches to the division of labour in the contemporary postmodern family that can be collectively described as socialization or gender approaches. These approaches emphasize that the division of labour responsibilities in the family is also influenced by the meanings and values that men and women attach to the performance of household chores.
Given that household care is traditionally associated with women's gender roles and is socially constructed as women's work, the division of labour in the household and the routine performance (or non-performance) of household chores also reflects men's and women's perceptions of their gender roles and their expectations of their partner's role. Attitudes towards gender roles can reinforce decisions about the division of roles in the family that are the result of economic calculations.
Maříková's research [14, p. 85] shows that the mother is still a very important person in the family, because the most time-regular (i.e., daily communication and basic care) and often the most time-consuming activities (such as caring when sick, when learning) in relation to the child largely rest on her. The father appears together with the mother in those activities whose regularity is not so urgent (e.g., deciding on studies, profession, punishing the children, shopping for gifts) and whose commitment is not so obligatory (leisure activities).
Distance learning and the division of parental roles in the family
In terms of the day-to-day care and education of children, the mother comes out as the most important parent, according to research data, also as in the past. There is not a single area of care in which the mother devotes less time to the child than the father. For example, according to research data on a rural family, the mother's participation in learning with the children was 39 % and the father's participation was only 3 %. In the case of going to the doctor, the difference was even more pronounced: 52 % to 4 %. The only type of care for which the prevalence of mothers was not confirmed was playing with the children. This activity is carried out by parents together [15, p. 16].
Thus, there is considerable evidence from individual research that the mother's role has remained more or less constant compared to the father's role over several decades during the development of the family model. Mothers carry out the same time-consuming activities and activities of a daily care nature as they once did. It follows logically that women bear a much greater share of the responsibility for childcare than men do in practice. Although the current generation of fathers, compared with their fathers' (or grandfathers') generation, are more involved in leisure activities in particular, and in those activities that do not have to be carried out consistently and regularly, they are much less family-burdened and constrained. Significantly, their lower to almost no activity is also noticeable in routine care. They are also less active in supervising school duties or are equally inactive in taking time off work when a child is ill.
"Fathers' participation in childcare is selective. Among the activities that are necessary to ensure the daily care of the child, they choose those that promote emotional enrichment and meet their needs and wishes (sports, trips, games). The activities that are necessary for the child's daily life remain the mother's responsibility and task, and the overall responsibility for the child's care and upbringing is shifted to her. The mother – child bond is still the most stable family bond and the most stable social bond in general. We can therefore conclude that, in general, the time fathers spend in joint activities with their children is increasing, but it is not equal to the time spent by many employed mothers" [15 p. 17].
Of course, changes have also intensively affected the area of parental roles. Women who are employed and take on maternal roles continue to do most (if not almost all) of the housework. The term “retraditionalisation” or the “equality trap” is therefore very revealing. And given the pandemic situation that has also affected the field of education, the role of the mother, especially in the current postmodern understanding of the family model, has become even more exacerbated – the mother has had to enter the online space together with the child and create new rules for the functioning of the whole family within the home office, as her time has had to be divided much more intensively between time spent with the children, with all the family members and with the work itself. Distance education re-set the family life especially for those families who had a child or children not only in kindergarten but also in the first stage of primary school.
"The socialising function of the family is closely linked to the other functions of the family. It represents their synthesis and results in a total social adaptation. While respecting the child, his individuality, and the specifics of his personality. The quality of the family's socialising action is reflected in the child's overall social development and in the fulfilment of individual social roles in adulthood" [10. p. 106].
Distance learning and presentation of historical material
The impact of distance learning on the presentation of the content of the history curriculum is higher due to the fact that only one lesson per week was devoted to this subject. The history curriculum is divided into the following topics: Prehistoric and ancient times, Slavs, Great Moravia, Middle Ages (In the castle and in the lower castle, the founding of towns), Slovaks in Hungary, Maria Theresa and the reforms, the written language and Matica Slovenská, Slovakia in the 20th century, UNESCO monuments in Slovakia, and the timeline – the timeline. I would like to point out in particular that learning in the online space caused some pupils to show poor activity, low attention, no motivation, no good performance, reading comprehension problems. Today, we encounter pupils who come more or less from dysfunctional families (living with one parent, parents divorced, father uncooperative, pupils themselves suffering from behavioural disorders – the traditional family model is significantly disrupted and has been modified by various maladaptive factors, e.g., working from home, loss of employment, higher incidence of domestic violence, negative deepening of social status due to reduced income, etc.).
During the first wave, when primary pupils were at home the longest, there was also a significant reduction in the amount of material taught. Teachers involuntarily assumed the function of creators of textbook texts directly in the online space, as working with classical teaching aids was not feasible in the classical form under the circumstances. The substitutes that the textbook market and other educational platforms began to offer after the call from educational institutions did not adequately respond to the specific requirements, which were dominated by the need to be able to activate the natural curiosity and motivation of children at the first level of primary education to further their education in an engaging way. And in the field of textbooks with so-called historical themes, there was quite often a deficit in terms of the credibility of the content, the coherence of its structure, the inconsistency of understanding of certain historical milestones, as well as varying quality. These shortcomings were also reflected in the teacher – parent relationship, where the parent was not able to work adequately with the textbook at a time when he or she was substituting the teacher and taking over some of the teacher's competences (especially when learning at home, in the time allocated for homework), and thus to help his or her child in understanding the material covered. It was at these moments that it was very clear to see how the pupil used the textbook and what kind of family he came from.
It is very necessary for pupils that the teacher conveys the historical subject matter in an interesting way and is able to attract their attention, since their attention is regularly disturbed by various other stimuli from the environment in which they are being educated, even in the classical form of education. If a child was not connected to online learning for various reasons, he or she had great difficulty with these topics and the subject became unattractive to him or her and automatically began to find it difficult. This apathy stemmed not only from how credibly the parents were able to advocate for the teacher in the education, but also in the development of the pupil himself. The pupil in this particular developmental period is unable to find the intrinsic motivation to be able to learn on his own, unable to pick out the essential and key points from a textbook text, let alone understand it without a proper explanation that makes concepts, situations or historical milestones that are unfamiliar and unnatural to him clearer to him.
In functional families (even if the child lived with one parent, suffered from an attention disorder, came from a socially disadvantaged environment or a marginalised group) there was an effort to work with the content of the curriculum in such a way that it was understood by the child and that he/she was able to work independently and within the limits of his/her abilities and competences with the assigned tasks, which served for the additional consolidation of the material covered.
In dysfunctional families or in families whose parents were occupationally overloaded (e.g., they were doing a job that was in the group of the so-called first-line professions), leaving the child alone for a relatively long time or under the control of another family member (an older sibling, equally overloaded or less competent to be an active parent for a while, a grandparent or a family acquaintance) was a significant problem. Such isolation caused in many children various states of anxiety, a feeling of loneliness because they lacked real social contact with other persons (parent, sibling, friend, teacher...), apathy to perform already learned and established social skills, to observe the daily functioning and family rituals used for relaxation... these specific cases only illustrate the conclusions reached by the various sociological studies carried out automatically after the first wave of the pandemic all over the world, including in our country. Socialization also plays a big role for a student at younger school age in the subject of homeland study. Indeed, in face-to-face lessons, pupils can act out dramatizations and various other dramas on a given topic together, and so they can better remember the presentation of the content of the history-themed curriculum through various forms of experiential learning.
I will mention a few examples:
In the chapter Great Moravian Empire, they mentioned the following problem – they could not imagine the connection between the names Cyril and Constantine. The problem was caused by the poorly worded text of the textbook, which was not supplemented with important information such as: 'Great Moravia was founded in the 9th century, when the Slavic prophets Cyril and Methodius arrived there' (this is also the way Slovak and European literature eventually states it). The text itself states only that the heralds were Constantine and Methodius. It is true that Cyril was originally called Constantine, as stated in the textbook, but after entering the monastery he adopted the name Cyril, which is fixed in all Slovak as well as foreign literature. And this fact is not explained to the pupils in any additional way, so it is explained by the teacher himself – in the case of online teaching, if the pupil is absent from the lesson, it is the parent who has to do so.
In the chapter Tatars and Turks in the territory of today's Slovakia, some historical factors of migration and nomenclature are again misinterpreted in the introduction of the text, which once again must be corrected by the teacher himself. The parent, who replaces him/her in the distance form of teaching, is not aware of these facts and often misinterprets the content of the text, if at all, as the parent may not be proficient in the subject (these are parents mostly from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and marginalised groups). These topics were very challenging when presenting the curriculum during distance education. I absolutely support the opinion of V. Kratochvíl [12 p. 235], who wrote that in the development of textbooks it is necessary to adhere to the concepts, ,,for example: a more intensive approach to the interpretation of the past as an open event, i.e. in the sense of non-conclusion, multilateralism, questioning, exploring, verifying, confronting, evaluating, without which we cannot sufficiently develop the thinking and thought culture of pupils, which is one of the key goals of modern history class. Finally, it should be noted that such socio-historical observation, often associated with a certain adventure of exploration and inquiry, provided it is appropriately handled, can become an effective legacy of history as a science for school history”.
In the second wave, the students already knew how to work with the textbook, so it can be said that the situation was challenging but not as stressful as in the first wave of distance education. The pupils had learned to use the textbook as required by the change in the content of distance education. This is one of the significant positives, but it was arrived at in the complicated way we have outlined above. And to which the textbook market to this day has not responded at all. As distance learning will be actively used in the future, it may well become part of classical education, and thus it will be necessary to eliminate individual stress factors – to bring the content of the classical textbook online, i.e. to create a digital version of it with both interactive applications and workbooks that would help pupils to use the necessary forms of experiential learning.
Positives and negatives of distance learning
I agree with the statements that highlight the distance form and point to its positives, such as saving time and money for the family, if we are talking about library fees for its various services or going to a distant city to attend school for education. Distance learning helps pupils to develop their digital skills and competences, or digital literacy itself, to select and sort the various information that the online space offers, as well as to protect them from an infectious environment, if we are talking about the school environment as a high-risk one, since the current pandemic situation has not brought about any relevant hygiene measures in this regard, even two years after its outbreak.
However, I disagree with the views that educational institutions should regard distance learning as a highly innovative form of education and automatically subordinate the content of education to it. In this essay, especially in the parts dealing with pupil development in the younger school years, the brief typologization of the family and individual parental roles (brief because the issue at hand is very complex, and given the scope of the assigned topic would have made for a separate thesis), and also based on an analysis of the climate of classrooms in which I have worked not only as an pedagogy, I have concluded that the factors that influence the presentation of the content of textbooks with historical themes are very complex. First and foremost, they depend on the family background, the particular family schema, its socialization in the current pandemic and economically very challenging environment, and the clearly defined social roles of educators and parents. Last but not least, variables such as the technical equipment of the family, the education of the family members, the learning disabilities of the children, the particular mode of upbringing and the communication between the household members and the educational institution enter into the successful management of distance education. By eliminating them, we would be able to create an online form of teaching that could meet at least the basic requirements of educational institutions for the profile of a primary school graduate, especially at the first level, where it is extremely important to immediately lead the pupil to certain regular habits, independence, critical thinking, and to develop all their social skills and key competences.
The current pandemic situation we find ourselves in is not easy for teachers and pupils alike. Teaching and learning at a distance are strenuous, requires knowledge of modern technology, creativity, and a lot of nerve. Considering the complexity and seriousness of the situation, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and teachers to do their best to ensure and provide quality distance education. The education and future of students cannot be limited at the expense of the virus; it is necessary to adapt to the new situation and prepare teaching processes and methods suitable for distance education. At the primary level of education, little attention is paid to presenting the content of the curriculum with historical themes. Therefore, the impact of distance education is also visible. It is very important to choose methods, approaches and forms of online learning that develop the pupil's personality holistically and at the same time to evaluate the results of this development in the direction of self-awareness of one's own qualities and shortcomings, so that the evaluation also has a strongly motivating and regulating character.
Teachers, as well as children, lack direct contact at school. Children lack friends, despite the fact that they still meet outdoors. They miss school, the school environment, and the children admit that they also miss their teachers. It's very different when you have a discussion with a teacher in class or when you have to deal with it through a screen. The dynamics of the lesson, as well as the communication during the online lesson, is very different from face-to-face teaching.
During a classroom lesson, the teacher can react immediately if he or she sees that a student is losing attention and concentration. In the online space, this is particularly complicated, especially because the pupil cannot properly describe what technical problem they are struggling with. At school, you can directly influence certain distractions and react more flexibly to unexpected situations that arise. And this is completely understandable.
Several empirical studies show that in Slovak conditions we still have little research on history textbooks, let alone on distance education itself.
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