ERIC Identifier: ED377120
Publication Date: 1994-08-00
Author: Remy, Richard C.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
Teaching Democracy in East Central Europe: The Case of Poland.
The end of communism in East Central Europe has posed a challenge and an
unprecedented opportunity for civic educators in the United States. As
educational reformers in former communist countries have begun to build new
civic education programs that will support democracy, they have turned, in part,
to the United States for assistance in overcoming an imposing array of obstacles
left by the long night of communist despotism. These obstacles include the lack
of classroom instructional materials, teachers with little or no understanding
of democracy and no training in appropriate pedagogical techniques, teacher
educators who themselves are ill-equipped to teach about self-government, and
educational administrators who have no professional training and little
understanding of the implications of democracy for the operation of schools.
In response, some civic education projects involving cooperation among
American and Central European educators are now underway in several countries in
the region; more are needed. In Estonia, for example, the Jaan Tonisson
Institute of Estonia and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems of
the United States have been conducting seminars for teachers on core ideas of
liberal constitutional democracy. In Hungary, civic educators from Syracuse
University have been working with Hungarian colleagues on teacher training and
One of the largest, most comprehensive projects is "Education for Democratic
Citizenship in Poland" (EDCP), a cooperative effort of the Polish Ministry of
National Education, the Mershon Center at The Ohio State University, and the
Bureau for Civic Education in Local Control Schools at Warsaw, Poland. EDCP is
often cited as a model of how to construct a long-term, multi-dimensional
approach to civic education reform in the region. A closer look at EDCP provides
some insights on what can be achieved and what American civic educators have to
offer their colleagues in Central Europe.
The EDCP Project began in February,
1991, when I visited Poland at the request of the Ministry of National Education
to consult with officials and educators on a long-term plan for civic education.
The plan we developed called for a set of distinct but related activities that
would respond to specific, urgent problems identified by the Poles, such as the
desperate need for new teaching materials. At the same time, we tried to design
these specific activities so they would also contribute to several longer-term
goals. These goals were to institutionalize civic education in all schools in
Poland for the next decade, to contribute to a national dialogue among Polish
educators on the meaning of democratic citizenship and civic education, and to
build strong linkages between American and Polish civic educators.
After developing the plan, I returned to Poland in August, 1991 with OSU
President Dr. E. Gordon Gee. We presented the Polish Minister of Education with
a Proclamation pledging cooperation between Mershon and the Ministry on the
project, Education for Democratic Citizenship in Poland. The Ministry made this
project a priority and has covered most in-country expenses for Polish and
American participants. For its part, the Mershon Center proceeded to secure
American financial support for the EDCP Project from several U.S. government
agencies and a private foundation, as noted below.
THE PROJECTS' ORIGINAL ACTIVITIES
The project on Education
for Democratic Citizenship in Poland has carried out five major activities.
* Curriculum Guide for Civic Education in Poland, funded by the National
Endowment for Democracy (NED). Twenty-five Polish educators working in Poland
with American civic educators have developed a curriculum guide and support
materials. The guide presents the rationale, goals, objectives, and content
outlines for a primary school and secondary school civics curriculum. One
supporting book presents 16 sample lesson plans illustrating topics and goals
set forth in the curriculum guide. A second book consists of 36 readings on
political life, citizenship, and human rights by prominent Polish social
scientists and political activists. The readings provide background information
on key topics set forth in the guide.
* Primary School Civics Course, "Civic Education: Lesson Scenarios," funded
by the United States Information Agency (USIA). Polish educators in residence at
the Mershon Center from September 1992 through February 1993 developed a civics
course for Polish primary schools (grades 6-8) containing 82 lessons. Each
lesson includes instructions for the teacher and materials for the students,
such as case studies, decision trees, maps and charts, primary sources, and the
like. The lessons are organized into seven units on such topics as "Principles
of Democracy," "Human Rights and Freedoms," "The Free Market Economy," and
"Poland and the World." The course has been approved by the Ministry of National
Education as a replacement for previous courses.
* Course for Pre-Service Teachers - "The School in Democratic Society,"
funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Polish university professors in residence
at the Mershon Center from September through December 1992 have prepared a
detailed syllabus for a two-semester course on the principles of democracy as
they apply to the organization and operation of schools. The syllabus is
organized around seven topics including "Student Rights and Responsibilities,"
"Schools and the Local Community," and "The Role of Schools in a Democratic
Society." The syllabus presents goals, detailed explanations, suggested
readings, and sample teaching strategies for each topic.
* A Network of Five Centers for Civic and Economic Education, funded by the
National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Five regional centers have been
established in Warsaw, Gdansk, Krakow, Lublin, and Wroclaw. They are providing
in-service training for teachers on the new civics course developed by the
Project, creating libraries of resource materials, and conducting public
education programs for children and adults.
* International Conference on Civic Education, funded by the Polish Ministry,
Mershon, USIA, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. In December, 1993 prominent
educators and scholars from across Poland met in Warsaw to critique and discuss
the materials developed by the EDCP Project. Project materials were distributed.
American civic educators participated as did representatives from
non-governmental organizations and the ministries of education of Albania,
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania, as well as a representative of the
ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES UNDERWAY.
Four new activities, not
called for in the original plan for EDCP, have developed out of the original
activities and are now underway.
* Society for Civic Education, start-up funds from the Mershon Center. Polish
teachers are establishing a professional organization for primary and secondary
school teachers and others interested in citizenship education. The new Polish
Society for Civic Education plans to hold meetings, facilitate in-service
training of teachers, sponsor instructional materials development projects, and
so forth. In addition, the Society hopes to develop connections with similar
organizations in other countries.
* A Close-up Look at Polish Politics and Government - "Civis Polonus,"
start-up funds from USIA and Mershon. Polish educators have created a program
that will annually bring students and their teachers from across Poland to
Warsaw to meet government leaders and observe democratic political activities
first-hand. A first for Poland, "Civis Polonus" (Polish Citizen), is modeled on
programs like those conducted by the Close Up Foundation in the United States.
The first program took place in July 1994 with students engaging in discussions
with policymakers, visiting key institutions of national government, and
participating in a simulation on the role of the Polish Senate.
* A Book for Educators and Policymakers, start-up funds from the Mershon
Center. This book, "Civic Education for Democracy: Lessons from Poland," will
contain original essays, by Polish and American scholars and educators,
analyzing the conceptual, educational, and policy implications of the EDCP
project in light of the global democratic revolution. The book will contain
chapters focused directly on the EDCP Project as well as chapters on issues
related to teaching core ideas of constitutional democracy worldwide.
* Research on Civic Education and Democratization in Poland, funded by the
Mershon Center. A multi-disciplinary team of Polish and American social
scientists and educators have recently begun what is hoped will become a
long-term civic education research program that will examine the impact of
Polish efforts to establish new programs of citizenship education. Initial steps
include analysis of existing Polish data sets on political socialization, the
preparation of working papers on research methodology for assessing civic
education, a small conference in Warsaw, and the preparation of case studies.
DIRECTORS AND PARTICIPANTS
Dr. Richard C. Remy, the Mershon
Center, and Dr. Jacek Strzemieczny, Director of the Bureau for Civic Education
in Local Control Schools, co-direct the EDCP Project. Dr. Karimierz Slomczynski,
Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University and Warsaw University, and
Dr. John J. Patrick, Professor of Education at Indiana University, serve as
In addition to teachers from across Poland, over 25 professors of education,
political science, economics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and history are
involved in the Project. The institutions represented are The Ohio State
University, Harvard University, University of Cincinnati, University of
Maryland, Indiana University, Warsaw University, Krakow Higher Pedagogical
Academy, and Jagiellonian University at Krakow.
History of Poland - Offers a good overview to the history of Poland.
REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES
The following list of
resources includes references used to prepare this Digest. The items followed by
an ED number are available in microfiche and/or paper copies from the ERIC
Document Reproduction Service (EDRS). For information about prices, contact
EDRS, 7420 Fullerton Road, Suite 110, Springfield, Virginia 22153-2842;
telephone numbers are (703) 440-1440 and (800) 443-3742. Entries followed by an
EJ number, annotated monthly in CURRENT INDEX TO JOURNALS IN EDUCATION (CIJE),
are not available through EDRS. However, they can be located in the journal
section of most larger libraries by using the bibliographic information
provided, requested through Interlibrary Loan, or ordered from the UMI reprint
Broclawik, Krzysztof, and others. SCHOOLS AND DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY: A COURSE
SYLLABUS FOR POLAND'S FUTURE TEACHERS. RATIONALE. Columbus, OH: Mershon Center,
1992. ED 361 263.
Kozakiewicz, Mikolaj. "Educational Transformation Initiated by the Polish
'Perestroika.'" COMPARATIVE EDUCATION REVIEW 36 (February 1992): 91-100. EJ 441
Melosik, Zbyszko. "Poland in the 1990's: The Role of Education in Creating a
Participatory Society." SOCIAL EDUCATION 55 (March 1991): 191-93. EJ 430 541.
Nagorski, Andrew. THE BIRTH OF FREEDOM: SHAPING LIVES AND SOCIETY IN THE NEW
EASTERN EUROPE. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
Niemczynski, Malgorzata, and Adam Niemczynski. "Perspectives from Past and
Present on Moral and Citizenship Education in Poland." JOURNAL OF MORAL
EDUCATION 21 (1992): 225-33. EJ 464 779.
POLAND AND CZECHO-SLOVAKIA IN THE 1990'S: SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND ECONOMIC
TRANSFORMATIONS. New York: Institute of International Education, 1993. ED 361
Remy, Richard C., and others. BUILDING A FOUNDATION FOR CIVIC EDUCATION IN
POLAND'S SCHOOLS. FINAL REPORT. Columbus, OH: Mershon Center, 1993. ED 370 833.