Jiri Orten

An exercise to use local culture to reinforce character

Jiří Orten was born as Jiří Ohrenstein into a Czech Jewish family. He studied acting in Prague, but was expelled from the school on account of race. He published under various pen-names and died aged 22 after being hit by a German ambulance.
The students were acquainted with his diaries and wrote down some restrictions that applied to the poet, for instance: I cannot leave the house after eight p.m. I cannot hire a self-contained flat. I cannot go to wine bars, cafés, pubs, cinemas, theatres and concerts, except one or two cafés reserved for me. I cannot go to orchards and parks. I cannot leave the boundaries of Prague. I can only go shopping between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. I cannot attend any school at all.
The students were asked to draft a daily programme for a person who, all of a sudden, was caught up in such a difficult situation.
Then they were asked to think about the risks Orten would face should he fail to comply with the restrictions or when meeting various people on the streets of Prague.
Finally, the students read and analysed Orten’s “Báseň naděje” (Poem of Hope) from the Reader.

How this resource relates to Shaping Characters objectives

  • Attitudes and attributes
  • Education techniques
  • Motivation and resilience

Actual outcomes

Educational objective: Making the students familiar with a poet of the 1st half of the 20th century
Qualities in focus: Responsibility, honesty, courage, camaraderie
Target group, age of the students: 9th grade (14–15 years of age)
Suitable for: Czech, Citizenship Education, History

Resources required

Reader 9 (publ. by Prodos)

Time needed

1 unit – 45 minutes

What could have been done differently or is planned for future repeats?

The students were captivated by the poet’s fate, debating actively about the time he lived under.

Links to related resource files

Contact information