THE SYSTEM OF EDUCATION IN POLAND IN BRIEF
AND FINANCE OF EDUCATION
The education system in Poland has the following specific features:
- public school sector dominates over private;
- includes a system of external examinations carried out at the end of primary as well as of lower and upper secondary school;
- grants teachers a unique professional position regulated by the Teacher’s Charter, pertaining to their employment, salaries and promotion;
- combines centralized educational policy and governance (the Minister of National Education and the Minister of Science and Higher Education) and decentralized administration of educational institutions (local government authorities).
The Constitutionof the Republic of Poland guarantees:
- Every person has the right to education
- Education is compulsory until the age of 18
- Education in public schools is free of charge
- Parents are free to choose schools other than public schools for their children
- Public authorities provide citizens with general and equal access to education
There are public and non-public schools. Non-public schools comprise civic schools, church-administered schools and private schools, which can be financed from tuition fees paid by pupil’s parents, and from other sources such as private business or foundations. Non-public schools with public school status are entitled to receive from the general subsidy an amount of funding equal to that granted to public schools. The Polish system of education distinguishes compulsory full-time education and compulsory part-time education. The former concerns pupils between the ages of 5 and15, whereas the latter – young people of 15-18 years. Full-time education entails attending school in the required period of time, while part-time education may be followed both in school or in out-of-school settings such as on-the-job training. As far as youngest children are concerned, all 5-year-olds are required to follow one year of pre-school education before they go to primary school. The system of education is centrally managed by two institutions – the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The greater part of financial support for education comes from the public budget. The amount of the general subvention for all local government units is defined annually in the budgetary act.
Compulsory subjects at particular educational stages / Curriculum:
Zespół Szkół nr 10 in Lublin
The reality about trans and interdisciplinary teaching in European schools – Poland
“Most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing.” ~ Albert Einstein
Interdisciplinarity is about integrating two or more fields of knowledge or disciplines.
This may involve an exchange of either simple ideas or mutual integration of concepts, methodologies, procedures, epistemologies, terminologies or data leading to organization of research and didactics in quite a broad area.
An interdisciplinary research group is a group of people educated in different subject areas or fields of knowledge (disciplines), who, by using a variety of terms and notions and intercommunication between the group members work on solving a common issue of research.
Integrating interdisciplinary approach into education seems to have attracted attention of educators and is gathering momentum in some European schools. However, for many it still seems too difficult to adopt, mostly due to the fact that educational systems in many countries still follow traditional, old cirricula and stick to the old-fashioned attitudes to teaching.
Have we finally reached the point when teaching approach and methods are about to change?
Let us have look at the actual situation of trans and interdisciplinary teaching in Poland and the ways the interdisciplinary approach is being incorporated into Polish schools.
The degree to which interdisciplinarity is present in Polish schools, among other things depends on the school level or a “cycle”.
Primary school is divided into 2 cycles of 3 years. The first cycle is “integrated”, with one teacher handling alone all the subjects, while the second cycle offers a subject-based teaching.
In the Polish system of early school education lessons follow integrated teaching approach, so that pupils can learn about the world in a holistic way.
Considering the patterns of children’s cognitive development the curriculum contents expand in a spiral manner. That means the curriculum is designed in a way that it pursues a spiral progression that starts from simple to complex and requires revisiting prior knowledge and the young learners continuously build upon what they already know.
Each class (group of pupils) for the first three years of primary school remains in charge of the same single teacher. The class teacher prepares her/his lesson units so that they were integrating various realms of students’ development and different fields of knowledge.
Students are provided with the skills and knowledge based not only on school educational meterials or information found on the Internet but also from the environment outside the school.
In the early school education it seems easier to make the lessons interdisciplinary as they are mostly prepared and conducted by only one teacher. The teacher plans and prepares his
didactic and educational work and materials using his/her own ideas but at the same time covering the obligatory content of the national curriculum.
In grades 4-6 (in Poland those grades are included in the so called II Educational Cycle)
the teaching gets more discipline-based.There are different teachers teaching different subjects respectively. The only subject that seems to have something to do with interdisciplinarity is natural-science (in polish: przyroda). The natural-science textbooks combine knowledge from different fields of knowledge including, first of all, biology and geography, but also some basic concepts of physics and some PSHE (Personal, social, health and economic) education. It can be argued howewer, if we can assume that this subject employs inter or intra-disciplinary approach, as the knowledge from all these different areas is, in fact dealt with in separate chapters and thus is actually taught independently.
General basic education ends with Middle School called Gimnazjum (the third cycle which also lasts 3 years) and covers lower secondary education . Also here, teaching and learning tends to be more focused on content, which is fragmented and disintegrated. The subject taught are: Polish language, history, civic education, two foreign languages, mathematics, physics and astronomy, chemistry, biology, geography, fine arts/music, technology, information technology, physical education and religion or ethics. At the end of the curriculum, pupils are evaluated taking an examination in humanities, science and foreign languages.
Although the subjects in Gimnazjum are still taught as separate fields of knowledge, it is over the recent couple of decades that we have adopted some changes in the curriculum that made the teaching targets more interdisciplinary and compatible with the modern world.
Thanks to those changes we aim at providing our students with a coherent and comprehensive vision of the world, and moving away from just teaching them encyclopedic knowledge.
There are some core skills that are crucial for the students in the 21th century that have been included and present in our curricula from kindergarten to higher education:
• Communication and cooperation
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Initiative and entrepreneurship
- creativity and oraz innovativenessAccording to the new Polish Core Curriculum a student leaving a lower secondary school (ending stage III of education) should have mastered skills including:
- reading: the ability to understand, use and reflectively process texts, including texts in the realm of culture, leading to the attainment of one’s own goals, individual development and active participation in social life;
- mathematical thinking: the ability to use mathematical tools in everyday life and to formulate conclusions based on mathematical thinking;
- scientific thinking: the ability to use scientific knowledge in order to identify and solve problems, and the ability to formulate conclusions based on empirical observation related to nature and society;
- communication skills in the mother tongue and in foreign languages, including both speaking and writing skills;
- the ability to use ICT effectively;
- the ability to search for, select and analyze information in a critical way;
- the ability to identify one’s own educational needs;
- teamwork skills.
According to the Regulation of the Minister of National Education from 20th August 2010 all school pupils have to take part in a compulsory Educational Project. It is a planned activity of students working in teams to solve a specific problem with using various methods.
Educational projects’ aim is to familiarize the students’ ability to use their knowledge while performing tasks and solving problems; and what is more, to develop students’ attitudes to be able to live and cooperate efficiently and in a responsible way in the modern world.
Students work in small groups according to the instructions of their tutors.
Projects may be carried out within one or more subjects, i.e. they may “go interdisciplinary”.
It seems that we – the teachers – have become more aware that trans and interdisciplinary approach to teaching may make children and teens understand the world in a better way. We get to know our world in a holistic way from the early childhood. From being a toddler we learn things in a comprehensive way. Then, suddenly entering school we are being presented with a vision of a world divided into subjects that stand quite apart from one another. According to that vision the world is strangely divided into fixed and rigid disciplines of knowledge. However, not a long time ago we have found out that progress is actually possible when we join and melt these disciplines together, when we discover the interdisciplinary approach. Teachers should be able to find interdependence between different subjects, and also search for the accurate language that they can use to describe reality in a interdisciplinary manner. This will lead to a fuller and more precise vision of the world as perceived by children and young people. The amount of knowledge that humans have access to is doubling every two years and it is hard to predict what kind of revolutionary scientific discoveries will change our lives. Due to this fast progress in the field of science teachers and educators should be prepared for fundamental changes in their professional profiles. Schools should teach in interdisciplinary ways by placing emphasis on equipping their students with core universal skills, so that they were well prepared for life in a modern society.
Aleksandra Zagórska – Zespoł Szkoły Podstawowej nr 2 i Przedszkola w Zagnańsku