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Exploring the Effects of the Communist Past in Current Teaching Practices in Albania

Following the collapse of one of the most severe and isolated communist regimes in the region, Albanian state reforms and curriculum changes in the early 1990’s aimed at restoring the content and methodology of its education system. While rebuilding infrastructure and renovating textbooks, the education reform also addressed teacher needs regarding instruction and teaching practices. However, the core formation of Albanian teachers who were mostly educated under the communist regime, lacked present-day components that are crucial in democratic societies, such as reflections of power, critical thinking, leadership skills, democratic decision-making in the classroom and environmental awareness. What is more, critical reflection of the past was missing even in the newly created university programs of teacher education in the post-communist state, whose lecturers were also mostly educated under the same communist regime.

Exposure to ten rural and urban Albanian Schools in the district of Elbasan in 2015, under the framework of PhD research in pedagogy, gender and citizenship, led to the realization that some teaching practices in the present-day classrooms in some elementary schools in Albania stem from old instruction methods of the communist past. These practices were mainly observed in the humanities, in subjects such as history, civic education and English language classes.

This paper explores some of the effects that the totalitarian regime in Albania had in the education system, tracking them into the teaching practices of twenty present-day teachers of ten elementary schools in Elbasan district. The mixed-methods research conducted for this study relied on classroom observations, questionnaires and focus group discussions. In addition to some of the effects of the past regime in the current teaching practices, the results of this study also reveal some gender stereotypes in teachers’ perceptions of their students and their academic performance.