Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's The Occasion? International Students Day

International Students' Day was originally intended to commemorate the anniversary of the storming of the Charles University in Prague by Nazi forces after demonstrations there against the killing of Jan Opletal (shown, at left); nine students in all (plus Professor Josef Matoušek) were ordered executed by the Reichsprotektor Konstantin von Neurath on this day in 1939, and afterwards more than 1200 were sent to concentration camps.

Ever since that awful day, November 17th has been set aside as a tribute to student activism around the world.

By an odd coincidence, the Athens Polytechnic uprising also came to a head on the same day, only in 1973; as such, this day is a school holiday in Greece, known as the Day of the Greek Students.

In 1989, 50 years to the day after their earlier tragedy, Czech students were again protesting, this time against a tyranny from the Left - events which would later lead to the fall of the Communist government of that country. Today is also a holiday in the Czech Republic, known as Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day.

Naturally, my perspective on International Students Day skews in a more inclusive way; to me this day represents the ongoing process of learning that ought to occur every day of our lives, honouring those people who've chosen to become students for life. Time and again studies have shown that such intellectual pursuits as reading and doing crossword puzzles increase mental acuity in older people, and so help to ward off such conditions as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. And let's face it: the world needs as many high-functioning brains as it can get right now.

The Pop Culture Institute would like to take this opportunity to reiterate its dedication to the cause of enlightenment through entertainment and education - the Three E's - whether in a formal setting, a self-directed curriculum, or simply by reading this blog... In the words of Jefferson Airplane, 'feed your head'!

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