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Why do schools teach "The battle of Warsaw" but not "the history of communist Poland?"


Dougpol1 32 | 3,153
13 Aug 2019 #1
Poland's communist past is of vital interest and still lives with us all today in many facets of modern day life. So why is it that the school curriculum carry on about Poland's resistance in WW2, and do not teach the lessons to be learnt from it's totalitarian government recent history? Or does it?

Isn't it about time Poland faced up to it's recent history and stopped ignoring it?
Is there a major film with the subject of how Martial law was declared, along the lines of "Katyn" for example. I don't recall. And why might that be?
pawian 161 | 9,971
13 Aug 2019 #2
and do not teach the lessons to be learnt from it's totalitarian government recent history? Or does it?

Yes, they do. What makes you think they don`t ? :)
pawian 161 | 9,971
13 Aug 2019 #3
Well, they teach it even in primary school. I discussed things with my kids when they did the period - in result, they had As in tests. :):)

s there a major film with the subject of how Martial law was declared, I don't recall. And why might that be?

Yes.
E..g, Death Like a Slice of Bread, about the strike and fight of Silesian miners against communist forces after martial law was declared.

cda.pl/video/182022275
OP Dougpol1 32 | 3,153
13 Aug 2019 #4
Death Like a Slice of Bread

Yes, yes - we all know that one Pawian - Wujek coalmine in Brynow. I was in a cycling club with miners from that colliery (we did more drinking than cycling....). I'm talking about a kitchen drama like Westerplatte or similar - where people can see the horrors of what Martial Law involved for the average citizen day to day.

As to the school curriculum, I am talking about teaching and discussion at Liceum level (History or Social studies Matura)
pawian 161 | 9,971
13 Aug 2019 #5
Hmm, firstly, your OP`s question was general and didn`t specify the type of school.

Secondly, why do you focus on high school and disregard primary school? The earlier students get acquainted with the topic, the better. Don`t you think so?

kitchen drama

Hmm, do you mean kitchen sink drama series?

It used a style of social realism, which depicted the domestic situations of working class Britons, living in cramped rented accommodation and spending their off-hours drinking in grimy pubs, to explore controversial social and political issues ranging from abortion to homelessness.

Kitchen drama Westerplatte? Hmm, I don`t know what you mean.... Those defenders of Westerplatte were mostly working class but they didn`t spend off hours drinking......
OP Dougpol1 32 | 3,153
13 Aug 2019 #6
The earlier students get acquainted with the topic, the better. Don`t you think so?

Sure - but they are not capable of academic thought and reasoned debate - to possibly influence the decisions of the leaders of tomorrow
pawian 161 | 9,971
13 Aug 2019 #7
but they are not capable of academic thought and reasoned debate -

Yes, but remember the Polish saying: what the shell gets imbibed with at the young age, so shall it give it off in maturity. :):):)
OP Dougpol1 32 | 3,153
13 Aug 2019 #8
Yes, but

You are not answering my question. Why is Poland's communist past not on the Matura syllabus, whereas the Warsaw Uprising and Katyn are?
All 3 are a tragedy of sorts.
pawian 161 | 9,971
13 Aug 2019 #9
Why is Poland's communist past not on the Matura syllabus,

Doug, what`s wrong with you? Why are you repeating the same song like a broken record?

You asked:

and do not teach the lessons to be learnt from it's totalitarian government recent history? Or does it?

I answered:

Yes, they do.

I later added:

Well, they teach it even in primary school.

The usage of even meant they teach it on all levels of schools. Also Matura exam level. Part 4 of the popular history textbook for high schools covers the period from 1939 to present times.

Please get a grip cause it is very difficult to discuss things with you in your current condition. :):)

nowaera.pl/zrozumiec-przeszlosc-czesc-4-dzieje-najnowsze-po-1939-roku-podrecznik-do-historii-dla-szkol-ponadgimnazjalnych-zakres-rozszerzony,sku-032782

What can you see in the cover of the textbook?



OP Dougpol1 32 | 3,153
13 Aug 2019 #10
Matura exam level. Part 4 of the popular history textbook covers the period from 1939 to present times.

Thanks! I will have a look at it, and report back.
mafketis 21 | 7,399
14 Aug 2019 #11
Isn't it about time Poland faced up to it's recent history and stopped ignoring it?

First, I agree with doug, sometimes I mention something from the communist period and students have no idea what I'm talking about, they know lots about the kings and WWII but the period 1944-89 is a black hole. From asking, it seems that there's a lot of variation by school, some schools cover it to some extent but most high schools mostly give it only the most cursory of attention.

There's still an ideological war going on behind the scenes about the narrative of what happened during communism.... and any version will please some people and drive others into a blind rage and so the safest thing is to ignore it.

The government of course has been trying to.... put a particular spin on the period with the cursed soldiers as shiny heroes and Lech Kaczyński as the single most important anti-communist (kind of nonsense, but....)

But also, what do teach about Wałęsa? Heroic opposition figure? Secret agent for the commies? Church puppet?
What about 1968.... anti-semitism for the sake of anti-semitism or vicious intra-party struggle?
Martial law... misguided effort to prevent soviet engagement or crude power grab?
Who was responsible for domestic repression? Soviets? Jews? Poles?

History is less about isolated facts but more about a story and no one can agree what the story of communism was...
Lenka 3 | 1,447
14 Aug 2019 #12
One, lets remember that this is the last bit of Polish history and as such quite often gets scipped due to time running out. For Pete's sake, sometimes even the end of WW2 is being rushed through

Two, Maf makes a great point. How to talk about when the society is so devided about those issues.
Atch 17 | 2,904
14 Aug 2019 #13
But also, what do teach

no one can agree what the story of communism was...

Agree with Lenka, you make some great points. My own view is that ideally, by the time kids reach Matura level, they should be capable of having both sides of an argument presented to them and being allowed to make an informed judgement for themselves, rather than being given bald facts or a particular version of the story. Then for the exam, if they're taking history, they could be asked to choose an argument and support it. Unfortunately education systems, not just in Poland but in many places, often don't do their job properly. Education should be about teaching people to think.

What strikes me, is how little social history young Polish people know of the Communist period. I don't know a huge amount about it, but I know a lot more than many teenage or twenty-something Poles I've talked to.
pawian 161 | 9,971
14 Aug 2019 #14
One, lets remember that this is the last bit of Polish history and as such quite often gets scipped due to time running out.

Yes, that`s the biggest problem. Curricula are burdened with a lot of material plus teachers lose classes due to school trips, unexpected holidays etc. In result, final periods of history are left out.

What strikes me, is how little social history young Polish people know of the Communist period.

History is one of students` least fav subjects everywhere, not only in Poland.

In most schools here it is just a boring lecture by a bored teacher. When I did a replacement history class for the absent workmate, I took the group to an interactive board classroom and I illustrated the topic with films and photos which I had prepared earlier. It had taken me a lot of time but I saw students were really interested. Many teachers don`t care about arousing students` interest and that is another big problem.
Atch 17 | 2,904
14 Aug 2019 #15
It's generally because of the way the subject is taught. It's made as dry as dust. There needs to be a strong element of social history and local history incorporated and used as a basis, for teaching the national and political history. Also, reliance on textbooks as the chief source of learning material for students is not the way to go. Plus, history needs to be set within a wider context. The timeline is an important tool for that. Huge chart,one whole wall of your classroom if necessary,the students help to create it, countries across the top, dates down the side, and main points of importance readable across and down the columns so that one can see the history of one's own country in relation to the rest of the world at any given point in time. So, if we take a random date, 1447, what was happening in that decade in Poland, in France, in Italy, in England?

In that year Kazimerz became King of Poland
The Hundred Years War was going on between France and England
In Italy, the rebuilding of Rome as part of the Renaissance, began in 1447.
England, whilst engaged in the Hundred Years War with France, also stood on the brink of the Wars of the Roses.

Now, let's say the student is studying in a present day school in Warsaw on the east side of the river ,they're looking at the timeline, getting a feel for what was going in a global context - what was happening in eastern Warsaw in the 15th century?

You can also create individual timelines for the development of science, industry, religion, art etc. Once kids have a broad grasp of history, they could choose an area of special interest in their senior years of secondary school and devote themselves to the study of that.

And so it goes on........but it takes a big shift in teacher training and curriculum design to implement something like that. And above all a will to do it.

@just saw your post above Pawian :-)) great minds..........!!
pawian 161 | 9,971
15 Aug 2019 #16
great minds..........!!

..think alike?
We, teachers, understand each other without a single word spoken. :):)





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