How Does Polish Ministry of Education and Science Respond to Contemporary Education Competences?

Lucio Massari: Saint Paul and the burning of pagan books at Ephesus //Public domain

Before I started my political activity I had studied pedagogy, and I focused on critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy is a philosophy of education that developed and applied concepts from critical theory to education. It underlines that issues of democracy and social justice are not distinct from acts of learning and teaching.

Historically, critical pedagogy has radical roots. One of its version is a social movement for the creation of a democratic socialist alternative to capitalism. Critical pedagogy is a teaching philosophy that invites educators to encourage students to critique structures of power and oppression. Critical pedagogy continues to evolve.

Currently and commonly, the competences of critical pedagogy are: teaching students to think critically and question the information they are given, developing skills of reasoning and judgment, teaching students to dialogue and argument.

How does Polish Ministry of Education and Science respond to contemporary education competencies?

Starting in September the Polish Ministry of Education and Science will introduce a new school subject and a new school textbook. It is called ‘Historia i Teraźniejszość’  (History and the Present). The author of the book is Wojciech Roszkowski. He is a historian and a former member of European Parliament. He represented the Law and Justice (PiS).

Critical pedagogy shows that school is a big political power. School is a reflection of social and political system or can be a preparation for wishful social system and social consciousness.

In this context, what can we find in a new textbook? Examples:

  • Feminism is compared with Nazism.
  • Ideologies are inherently wrong, because they attack the spiritual sphere of human.
  • According to the author, socialism, liberalism and gender are ideologies (oddly enough, he didn’t mention nationalism).
  • The European Union is a bad creature.
  • The UE eliminates religions and promotes atheism.

Why do they do that to Polish pupils? Why do they do that to Polish society?

This textbook is an expression of Polish right wing’s pure calculation and cynicism in the political and social dimensions. They work very systemically. They know that education is a powerful tool in politician hand. Critical pedagogy shows that education produces political subjectivities.

The PiS core-electorate is convinced and constant in their affection. The democratic opposition is not able to change their mind. But the situation with young adults is quite different. They are often called “hope of the Polish democracy” or “hope of Europe”. Their mobilization can change the election results. Polish right wing knows that and is doing everything to change them into their supporters as young as possible. This is why the new subject is for. If young adults are forced to learn nonsense like ‘Historia i Teraźniejszość’, the future of Polish democracy and its membership in the EU are seriously threatened.

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Karolina Derynska