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Polish School. Will the Mittelstand go bankrupt?

Editor's note: "The middle class wants to make a fuss" – this is the title of our series. Why do wealthier Poles want to isolate themselves from other social groups? Is it important that Biedronka has a cashier on the stairs? Is it important for your children to go to school?

Today we publish a text by prof. Janusz Majcherka: "Get away from the bourgeoisie and stop teaching it!"

W | RO Interview with the architect Wojciech Kotecki who designs in Warsaw a settlement that takes into account the principle of social mix at different levels of prosperity and from different environments) and the text of the bourgeois idol of Katarzyna Gryga (the author of the famous " Letter against the ecoterrorists ").

THURSDAY Talk of our journalist Wiktoria Beczek with … I am concerned why the social mix of the older generation is connected with the Polish People's Republic.

We also want to publish your polemics and letters on this topic. We are waiting for you: [email protected]

Weronika BruĹşdziak-Gêbura, Gazeta.pl: Are there lessons in Polish schools where children learn from bank governors and bank employees from Biedronka?

Przemysław Sadura *: You can but I have not seen anything like that. I suspect that there are only a few of them. Bank presidents can pay for a private school, even if the lessons are astronomical. But let's not talk about the upper class, financial elite. More importantly, the middle class does not use the public education system on a massive scale.



1; Because when middle class flees from public schools, they become poor and become a service to the poor. And the benefits to the poor have always been poor and serious, quotes Richard Titmuss, a researcher in welfare state systems and social policy.

It's about keeping as many middle-class kids in the public system as possible, because they make it a social mix in the class

Is that so important?

– Research shows that the mix of children in terms of the level of their cultural capital and knowledge primarily serves those who have less. At the same time, it does not hurt those who have it. Segregation is socially disadvantageous. The mixing is much better.

In addition, middle-class parents are a group more willing to lead school life and exert pressure. Keep your finger on the pulse, control how the school works and put it into action. It often happens that even in a good school there is a teacher who does not want or has an inferior moment. A middle-class parent will see her faster. It will be noticed that the Polish teacher has asked to perform some tasks or to check how many tests she is performing and to draw attention to the fact that something is not working here. He has more knowledge and is also uncomfortable going to school and intervening. The presence of middle-class parents is beneficial because it enforces the proper functioning of the public system.

Do parents from the Polish middle class want their children to go into a class with children from lower social classes?

– I do not want to …

It is enough to look at the level of social solidarity and trust between people in Poland. That was never good, but after 1989, the conversion led to an erosion that is already overwhelming. When opinion polls ask Poland if people are trustworthy, only about a dozen percent of respondents declare their willingness to trust others. The average EU average is almost three times higher, and in the Scandinavian countries, such confidence, which is also an expression of a feeling of solidarity with fellow citizens, explains about 70 percent. Respondents. This is the Golf.


And how does that translate into schools?

– In our decisions not just school, but and all others, the basic criterion is the selfish perception of one's own interest. This is basically the only criterion that is considered. With little trust in state and public institutions, and thus also in school, middle-class parents, if they have the opportunity, will choose schools that are selective and choose the best.

Parents believe this will win their child.

Maybe you are right?

– No. After all, children live in silence, to which we have become accustomed via social media. Among our friends on Facebook, we do not have many people who differ from us in their economic status or the level of their cultural capital. But the school system should not be organized according to how social media is formatted.

In a situation where parents in the middle class have a relatively predatory way of competing for the best places in the best schools, which one can understand because, in a sense, it is a rational action at the individual level, but It is the task of the state to set the limits and to enforce the functioning of such a system, which guarantees a universal school, mixes the environment and enforces the principle of regionalization.

The middle class does not want to be classified.

– I do not want to. And he does not bypass them in any way, for example, to send children to school in another district, if this school has a higher position in the ranking. In this way schools are created with "good" and school slides. If the state lets this process go too far, that will have ruinous social consequences. Because such a system not only reproduces social inequalities, but also increases them.

Currently, much of the socialization is done in institutions, mainly in schools, because the family is no longer the only and most important place where this process takes place. If it happens in such mistakes, ie schools for the best, good, average and average, where everyone works only in their environment, then we will build a system that will escalate class and cultural differences and ideologically. It can also cause them to take on an unfamiliar form in our society, that is, a caste system in which children from these good and low-quality houses have no contact with each other from the start. Because if they do not meet at school, how are they supposed to meet? After all, they no longer meet on the job market or in the social media, where much of the social life takes place. Only the school is able to make connections that make us a society, not a group of individuals.

Why is it so important for children from different environments to communicate with each other? ?

– For many reasons. Let's look at the capabilities of the collaboration. For years, I've been observing at the university how successive yearbooks of students with all the tasks that require collaboration are getting worse and worse. Moreover, with people who live in other worlds, they are outside our fairy tale, outside our breeze. Such ability also develops empathy, lets us understand the situation of others, we feel in it. Working in a group is better, the more we can see the situation through the eyes of others. Children learn to overcome differences or cope with frustration. The development of such skills requires that we have enough contacts with others. Both physical isolation, when children from different social groups reach different schools or classes, as well as individualization, that is, to guide the teaching process so that it focuses primarily on rivalry and comparison between others rather than common projects, preserves social anomie. It hampers any joint activity

At the labor market level, companies are investing to get employees to cooperate and teach them this competence, because this is our weak side. It is hard to wonder if this has changed the Polish school for years.

If, after completing all of these "better" schools, he becomes manager in an international transport company and becomes his subordinate driver, the former will be able to understand the latter's needs at all, if the school does not interact with people negotiated with other social groups?

– Probably that will have a big problem with it. It is not just about changing to a slightly different perception of the world, but also about a deep sense of belonging to the same society. Finding a common language is a necessity. You can not be a good manager if you do not understand the needs of others, especially your employees. Then we seem to have to look for intermediaries, or we get into conflicts too fast when they are not needed.

The problem of Polish schools is how to get middle-class parents to stop sufficient good local school instead of looking for the best school. This quest does not help improve the quality of the lesson. Instead, it increases the rivalry between schools that harm the idea of ​​a public public school. Because private schools are a possibility. The second, middle-class parents, selects the best schools of the public system

How to avoid regionalization

– Yes. This was clearly visible in the selection of middle schools, ie before the PiS reform. Then better and worse middle schools were created, among others by the pressure of parents who were looking for higher schools. Despite the fact that the selection could not be made officially, for example, a school with a comprehensive foreign language system was created. Their knowledge is a good measure of cultural capital, and upper middle-class children are better at using languages. Therefore, selected students, similar to high school graduates with international enrollment or schools with author programs, went to these schools.

The state did not try to enforce the principle of regionalization in any way. I observed this phenomenon in the UK, where middle-class parents were attracted by the crisis, which slowed their incomes and did not allow them to use private schools as before, find better schools in public education and bypass the principles of regionalization. For example, they did so by moving to better school circles, creating fictitious relationships or taking fictional divorces. The state definitely fought against this crime. There have even been cases where anti-terrorism laws have been used to oversee parents who change schools during recruitment. This, of course, was an exaggeration, but it showed the determination of state activities in this area. Strength lacking in middle school in Poland

Is it still so?

– Of course. Now this phenomenon can be observed in the case of elementary schools in metropolitan areas. I am currently researching in one of the districts of Poznan. Among the few schools in the district, the highest proportion of children from the region, who was one of the primary schools, was 40 percent. All the others had even fewer children from the district. This shows how the principle of regionalization works in elementary schools, but how it does not work. Parents choose elementary schools because of the opinions of other parents, their experiences, ideas, exam results, but also the convenience of commuting. Today it is common in big cities to choose middle schools for elementary schools, rather than send children to district facilities.

For me as a sociologist, the obvious social trap is the most annoying ± of which it is difficult to leave. I understand middle-class parents, because at their individual level, their actions are rational, but they damage the whole. Consider the example of traffic in a big city. We know that we would all work faster if we massively switched to public transport or bicycles. There would be no traffic jams, there would be no smog. And if one of us had to go really fast in a particular situation, then driving in a car or a taxi would be a rush. But because buses are in a traffic jam and cyclists are in the exhaust, we get into this car because there is a minimum of comfort. The decision to turn the village into a car is individually rational, leading only to irrational social consequences.

And what to do with it?

– It is not known until the end. What can we do? Do you convince everyone to leave their cars and switch to the buses? It's hard because we can convince some, but most do not. To impose this method to all and to ban the entry of cars in the center? This can happen, but this in turn will provoke great social dissatisfaction and adversely affect the decisions made for those who have implemented those decisions.

Similarly, enforce social mixing and prevent segregation in the case of education. Just convincing and prove that mixing is beneficial, it will not change anything. You would have to set a limit and enforce it, but that can not be too drastic, because we will prevent parents from entering the public system. And the massive escape of the middle class into the private school system would be a complete catastrophe for the public system. So the only solution is the measure, which raises the level of schools and the preparation of all facilities to meet the needs of the middle class and the confidence of the middle class in public schools. That's to create a situation in which, as a middle-class parent, I think my school is good enough


Enough good?

– This standard applies in Scandinavia. Confidence in the state and the education system means that I know that the district school is a good enough school, on a similar level to the others, so there is no point in deciding and looking for someone else. Stiff prohibitions should be introduced only after reaching this state. First a carrot, then a stick. Otherwise this fight will not win. The middle class can always choose legends, that is the language of Albert Hirschman, if criticism is impossible, one can always choose a separation. Run away and leave the system to yourself.

And it's not that inequality is much bigger than in the West?

– I do not think so. Our society is really less different in class than British society, for example. We are much more egalitarian. The British education system that bypasses primary schools more than reproduces social inequalities. Anxious is the direction of the changes and processes that take place in the largest agglomerations.

So why and for whom do you pay that lower-class children should go in classes with middle-class children?

– It pays off for the whole społeczeństwu. Research shows that children from lower social strata will benefit – they will quickly reach the level of middle-class children. And yet the difference in starting level is not to blame because some children were born into families with lesser cultural capital, less educated, not used to reading. Middle-aged children since birth have grown up in homes that have given them additional opportunities. If this is the case, the children of both groups will go into a class, and those who have less school capital will receive additional development opportunities. The Influence of the Peer Group or Peer Learning is much more effective than the teacher's top message.

On the other hand, middle-class children lose or lose little of what they will not have an impact on their further careers, and gain experience in a diverse environment that is in miniature, in the lens a reflection of what the whole society is. This experience is of great importance in the world where we live more and more in isolated mistakes. Those who have the experience of developing in a diverse society, as shown in other mixes, become more creative, innovative, empathetic. You will gain soft skills and experience that will not be overcome later. From the point of view of the whole society it is clearly advantageous.

And how do the students perceive it? Would you rather be with the worse ones, who calls them "nerds", and the latter with the first ones they call "polygons"?

– Animozja between students who learn better and those who are worse, there are many and have always been. In adult life it will be similar. The school is a simulator of social life. People who have brilliant careers will not only meet enthusiasts and bludgers on their way. You will also have many critics, maybe even face a Hejtu wave.

We started thinking about raising children as if it were about eliminating all obstacles under their feet. However, we forget that children also develop by improving the ability to accept frustration. How can you deal with emotions when you are not bored or afraid? It can not be that all fairytales end happily, and the Brothers Grimm will only be known in some Disney versions. School life should prepare us for adult life, teach us to move in the world. That's what it was all about. Perhaps the bourgeois parents in child-centered culture have forgotten it.

Can I have a grudge against parents who are better able to learn the middle class children they do not want their child's class is student delayed science?

– It depends. I can understand middle-class parents who want to choose the best for their children, but when they try to colonize part of the public system and remove and displace children from lower-skilled families, then I do not understand. A minimum of solidarity should apply to all of us. If we want our child to have the best, we should remember that it is no wonder of the world. For us it is the most important thing, but it is not and never will be for the world. It seems to me that the school and the state should enforce social mixing because the parents of all children from all environments will benefit from it. The middle class will be a useful lesson in dealing with frustration, the more life becomes more and more, also politically.

At present, the Polish education system compensates for the chances of increasing social inequality?

Today, equal opportunities in education are perceived a little worse than a few years ago. In the age of PiS reform, we seem to have taken a step in the wrong direction, actually two. In particular, the repetition of the reform, which reduced the compulsory school attendance, ensured early contact with the school and provided the opportunity to achieve 100% pre-school education for children of three years old. It has been very beneficial in reducing social inequalities. The PiS reform has withdrawn. The second mistake is the dissolution of middle schools. Despite all the distortions of the system, they weighed the odds. It is better to improve on what is inefficient and not turn the whole system upside down.

And what does the Polish school look like? Okay, poor?

– As for subject and knowledge transfer, it is getting better. Polish students in international studies like PISA are getting better and better from all subjects. But there is also the other side of the coin. We are much worse off if we can apply knowledge in practice. The Worst, if Not Horrible, Regarding Affiliation d. H. Feeling of belonging to the school community and satisfaction when attending school.

Polish students do not like going to school

– I do not like …


– There is a high level of education in schools, which is still achieved by traditional methods. A lot of memory is learned, programs are overloaded. So much pressure, rivalry, race races. All of this has been in existence since the first years of school, so it is difficult for children to like it. There is a lack of experimentation, a common search for solutions

When I interview with a generation of parents, it turns out that their school memories are not the best either. Of course, they depend to some extent on the socioeconomic status, ie the class position. For the middle-class parents, it is easier to justify why the effort for school education works. Yes, it is muddy, boring, stressful, but it is used to enter into a competition that will later lead to the lifelong success of your child on the job market. For people of folk classes, those who work or work with lower qualifications, school memories are the story of a certain pain that enters the world of compulsion, a duty that is not really known until the end of what it is for he served. In their opinion we learn things we do not need, because in the end we go to school teaching us the profession or we work immediately. Suddenly, most school knowledge turns out to be useless. In retrospect, the school is described by them as a waste of time, a time that had to be preserved

. It could be very different if only our educational institutions wanted to get closer to the Korczak ideal of the life school. This would be beneficial for children with low cultural capital as well as for the middle class. Introducing practical methods in the classroom or finding solutions with experiments develops creativity and innovation. In this regard, our school is changing, but recently and too slowly. All the time we see a gap between our school and those in Western Europe. Also technical activities can be carried out with book and notebook

* Przemysław Sadura, sociologist at the Warsaw University. He examines the relationships between state and class structure in the field of various public policies. Recently, the publication of his latest book "State, School, Class" appeared in the publication by Krytyka Polityczna.

 Cover of the book by Przemysław Sadura The cover of Przemyslaw Sadura's book "The State, School, Class" Phot. Krytyka Polityczna Publisher

In the series "Middle class to be buried" read also:

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  • Sroczyński: xxx
  • Dunin: xxx [19659070] Majcherek: xxx

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