Thanks to the teachers’ strikes, the social debate about the Polish school has begun. Excellently! Let’s talk about respecting the teaching profession in Poland and changing the mentality in relation to the role of school and teacher in today’s world. For me, the message and purpose is clear:
Student! YOU ARE MOST IMPORTANT! I WILL PREPARE YOU FOR LIFE AND NOT FOR TESTS!
On April 8, a nationwide teachers’ strike began in Poland. It was a consequence of the lack of agreement between teachers’ trade unions and the government in the form of a collective dispute (the whole school took a strike). After a week, it turned out that almost all citizens became its participants, supporting or condemning strikers. A social media and Internet machine on a huge scale has been launched. Teachers have a lot of social support, expect worthy earnings and respect indirectly related to low wages. I am very happy because the debate about the need to change the Polish education system has finally begun. The changes require above all the Polish social mentality about the role of the school in today’s world.
The school today should teach children and young people to live, to solve real problems, to adapt to the changing world. The teacher is not the only source of knowledge that can be obtained in a few seconds on the internet. The teacher creates conditions for learning and to achieve this is to have a good and positive relationship with the students. A teacher is a person who enters the classroom and is not worried that he or she does not have enough time to complete the subject of the lesson. School is a place where we build positive relationships between all its members: teachers, students, parents. This change results from the dynamic change of the world, new technologies are everyday for students and an important tool in supporting learning and teaching. Today, students have a voice that is important and necessary, today we learn from each other.
Is that so? It depends. But I can say that it can be, it should be and it is. At least it works with me.
Let’s start from the top. The education system in Poland is focused on memorizing learning, contains too many unnecessary topics, does not create conditions and does not give lesson time to shape social skills. The student is supposed to be polite, obedient and pass tests very well, because this testifies to the success of the school. What a mismatched model to today’s reality in which detailed knowledge is within reach of the phone. Education reform of 2015 failed, too much theory in it, too little practice. We expect the government to reduce these core curricula.
I say no to this model. And not only me. Educators from nationwide educational programs – Spring Education and the Year of Relation to which I belong, support a new model of school and teacher. Let us work with students through action, not sitting at desks. Let’s get to know, let’s experience, make designs, have fun learning. Students are to create lessons, teachers show them the way. Let’s focus on cooperation, team work, self-presentation skills, communication. Let’s take care of language culture, blocking hate, and strengthening kindness. Let’s take care of a good word, let’s think about yourself well. Let us appreciate ourselves and our students. I can, I want and should say that I succeeded, that I want to and that I have wind in my sails. Do I praise or create positive energy? Definitely the second one.
Oktawia Gorzeńska – one of the leaders of Spring Education asks teachers the question: teacher, why do you go to the class today? I know. I go to show that the student is important to me, that I want to hear his opinion, that today I open him the next door to join a journey and that it depends on him how much of this trip he will take. No test, no force, no marks. Let’s focus on inner motivation and curiosity of the world.
Teacher! you are important, you are admired, creative, you have the power to change human life! Do you think about yourself well? Do you speak about yourself well?
I expect the government to support the change in the education system, reduce the core curriculum, raise teachers’ pay so that their passion, creativity, commitment, and dedication will support the development of Polish children and young people.
I am writing it as a – mother, wife, Polish teacher, ambassador and trainer of national educational programs (Spring Education, Year of Relation) and international (Microsoft Education Community)