Archive for 'Culture'

How school has changed…

Posted on 29. Mar, 2014 by in Culture, Education, History

Today’s blog is going to be king size, mega,long, duży, ogromny, długi!!!!!!I will try not to bore you though:) Today’s subject is changes in school system!

In most aspects of life and society there have been many changes in the last 100 years. One such area of change has been in education and there are significant differences between the classroom of 100 years ago and the classroom as it is today.

One of the most noticeable differences between schools of 100 years ago in comparison to the modern day classroom is the types of punishment used and when discipline (dyscyplina) is administered. For example, in past times a child was expected to be seen and not heard while now students are actively encouraged to be vocal in lessons and to play a great role in participating in their education. Modern day punishments (współczesne kary) include detentions (przetrzymanie), removal of privileges and exclusion from school (wykluczenie ze szkoły). Previous punishments included everything from writing lines on the board to actual physical discipline, such as caning.

The curriculum (program) has made significant changes throughout history and this is apparent when looking at the differences between school curriculum 100 years ago and those that are offered now. 100 years ago children were taught a much more limited curriculum that offered the basics such as reading (czytanie), writing (pisanie) and arithmetic (arytmetyka). Additional subjects were offered but were often dependent upon the academic ability of the child. Another difference is that boys and girls were taught separate subject based on what society at that time believed to be relevant and appropriate. For example, girls were taught cooking (gotowanie) and needlework (szycie) while boys had lessons in wood work (stolarka). The modern curriculum offers a greater diversity in subjects (większa różnorodność tematów) and students of both sexes are offered the same opportunities. Another difference is the teaching of ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching -ICT- classrooms include students with and without disabilities and have two teachers, a general education teacher and a special education teacher. The teachers work together throughout the day to adapt and modify instruction for your child and make sure the entire class has access to the general education curriculum. Students may be in an ICT classroom all day or for a portion of the day) as this was a non-existent subject 100 years ago and is now considered to be an essential part of day-to-day life with a great influence on future job prospects.

100 years ago a teacher’s equipment included a chalk (kreda), a blackboard (tablica) and their own subject knowledge (własną wiedzę przedmiotu). The pupils’ equipment would usually consist of simply a pen (długopis) or pencil (ołówek) and paper (papier) or a workbook (skoroszyt). A current classroom offers a wide range of equipment that is greatly influenced by technology. Items such as a whiteboard,computers and tablets are commonplace and have extended learning opportunities for students. The equipment that is required by pupils is also much more extensive. Parents often receive letters listing the essential equipment that is required for each year.


The way that teachers teach their students has also changed over the past 100 years. Over the years there has been a gradual move towards pupils playing a greater role in their own education and having input into lessons. Teachers are also more focused on the individual needs and learning styles of their students (nauczyciele są bardziej skoncentrowani na indywidualnych potrzebach i stylu uczenia się uczniów/studentów). Lessons are less teacher led as there is a lesser proportion of the lesson with the teacher relaying information to students and more focus on students researching subjects themselves.

Throughout history segregation (segregacja) in the classroom has been rife with some groups of people not being educated at all. Examples include separate education for people of different races and religions, single sex schools and different schools for the rich and the poor. Modern day education is much more inclusive in most countries, such as the US and UK, although some families still opt for particular schools based on factors such as their religious teachings. However, in some cultures segregation is not only still in existence it is actually encouraged.

Now, how about adult learning?

Unsurprisingly, the biggest change in education has been through new technology, like we already mentioned above. Not only do teachers use laptops and projectors to facilitate learning in the classroom, but students are expected to use a lot of the same technology to complete projects and assignments.

But don’t let this dissuade you from going back to school. Teachers and administrators understand that adult learners may have a technology lag, and most schools are willing to help you become proficient in the technologies needed in the classroom. Once learned, these new skills will not only help you excel in school, but in the workplace as well.

Online learning (nauka online) is also an important part of the technology evolution in today’s colleges. Community colleges and elite schools alike are now offering online alternatives, and these programs can be especially attractive to adult students who have jobs and families.

With increases in tuition and student expenses, it’s no wonder that financial aid programs have changed greatly in the last twenty years.

The need to succeed in exams at school has increased dramatically since the mid-20th Century. Nowadays, to be employed in a minimum wage job, one needs at least a C in Maths, English and Science. The elderly people we talked to told us that just 40 years ago, a pupil would be able to leave school one day with no qualifications and receive a job the next. The pressure on getting at least 5 A*- C GCSEs in this day and age is tremendous in comparison to just a few years ago!

Also, another major change is that the exams are now completely different to what they were before 1986 when previous O-Levels were phased out and the more recent GCSEs were brought in. These new examinations were “all inclusive” so all students of any ability could take the same exam.

Since the Health & Safety Act was passed in 1974, bureaucracy in schools has reached an all-time high, with vast quantities of forms being filled out on a daily basis. Some people have come to ask the question, has it all gone too far? Nowadays schools are expected to take extra precautions to ensure student safety, however this was not the case before the Act was brought in.

The way children learn has also changed throughout the years. It’s more difficult to keep kids’ attention and keep them focused. They know so much about so many things due to media. With the growing popularity of video games and other forms of instant entertainment, children have also grown accustomed to learning visually. Children want to be entertained and they are used to things that are fast-paced and ever-changing.

Family dynamics have also changed over time. Today, many students live with two working parents, or with single parents who have multiple jobs. This makes family time scarce, so teachers may be expected to go above and beyond their role and fill in for mom or dad. Inside classrooms, school days seem shorter and are jam-packed with more and more to learn. There is never enough time in a day, or a month, or a year to get it all done. This causes a strain on many extra-curricular activities like sports, music programs or field trips.

How do I remember school? I actually have great memories from school.

This is how my notebook (zeszyt) looked like


And everyone loved crayons with a teddy bear on the box


We all had multicolor pens in our bag


And sometimes Polish school bag was actually….chinese…


This is what we used for our school ID


One of the books


A book of colored paper for crafts


Bambino crayons


This one was a must for the art lesson


And the uniform…


Some more books


When regular glue didn’t help…this one was a winner


And before my first calculator I always used these


And last, but not least, the wonderful backpack!


How do you remember school?

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Dining etiquette in Poland and in other countries

Posted on 28. Mar, 2014 by in Countries, Culture, food

If you’ve ever tipped too little in America or finished all your food in China, you may be familiar with the embarrassment that comes with a dining faux pas.

But now a new clever infographic promises to help you sail through fancy dinners on holiday with no problems.

Revealing the dining customs for various countries, website Restaurant Choice released an educational picture series outlining crucial dos and donts.

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You have good manners, right? After all, you (usually) keep your elbows off the table and say “Please pass the salt,” right? But when you head abroad, things get a little more complicated.

But knowing what the etiquette rules are won’t just save you from some awkward situations. It can also help you make friends. It’s really a statement of your openness and awareness of the fact that the people you’re with… may in fact see the world differently. It’s simply going to get you out of the tourist bubble. Sound good?

I love these pictures…although while reading few different articles I noticed comments from people from different countries who disagree with them (let’s say a person from Italy didn’t agree with the picture showing Italian etiquette).

Remember, there are different points of view…and different exceptions…Anybody can be wrong:)

I could not find one of these pictures about Poland, but here is what I think…(based on my own experience):

Tip the way you think your server deserves…although I noticed that most people tip about 10-15 %. If you are paying with a credit card, server will bring a little machine to swipe the card and print out the receipt (rachunek) in front of you. I guess it is a rule that they can not take the card and walk away – card always stays close to the client (which I think is a great idea). Few times I had servers asking me if it is possible if I can leave the tip in cash, so they don’t have to declare it…too much information for me – almost a little rude…It may happen to you. I’m not saying that it always happens though…:).

One thing that my husband finds annoying is that we can have 2, 6 or 10 people with us, and we never get our food at the same time! It happens every time! I don’t know if it is our luck…or just the way it is. Some people may be finished by the time others get their dinners!

Desserts…a lot of times Poles use a small spoon, instead of a fork to eat a cake:)

As for finishing your plate or not…I think it’s pretty flexible. You will not offend anyone if you only eat a little bit…or eat everything on your plate.

I would love to hear what are your thought on dining in Poland! Please share them with us in comments below:)

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Celebrating women!

Posted on 08. Mar, 2014 by in Countries, Culture, Holidays

International Women’s Day’ (Międzynarodowy Dzień Kobiet) was first celebrated in Poland in 1948, when it was arbitrarily imposed (arbitralnie/samowolnie narzucone) by the powers that be from the former Soviet Union, replacing the former Catholic celebration, the feast of Wincenty Kadłubek. Despite its inauspicious origins in the Stalinist period, ‘Dzień Kobiet’ grew to become accepted by Polish society and is now an integral part of Polish culture.


‘International Women’s Day’ is not, of course, a specifically ‘Polish’ occasion. It was first celebrated in 1909, following a resolution by the Communist Party of Austria. Following this, it was then adopted by the Second Socialist International in Copenhagen in the same year. In 1917, demonstrations marking Women’s Day on March 8th played a key role in the October revolution.

During the initial Stalinist period of People’s Poland, Dzień Kobiet could hardly have been a barrel of laughs for women or anyone else. Between ’48 and ’56, Polish women were exhorted on Women’s Day to exceed production norms. Polish newspapers of the period graciously wished the women of Poland ‘greater work efficiency’. Instead of decadent Western pin-up calendars, portraits of female ‘Stakhanovites’, (superlatively productive workers), held pride of place in Polish workshops.

Soon after the somewhat grim days of imposed Stalinist rule in Poland, the communist powers that be noticed that, as well as having exceptional plough skills, Polish women were also mothers, wives and, above all, exceptionally beautiful. Although the state controlled mass-media still continued to exhort the women of Poland ‘to build a socialistic future’, the newspapers and the party made the drastic concession of wishing women personal happiness as well. Stalin and his cronies must have turned in their graves.

By the seventies, Międzynarodowy Dzień Kobiet, had gained acceptance by Polish society generally, in both the public and private spheres. It was at this time that ‘A flower for Ewa’ became a Communist party slogan. The Day was celebrated by official speeches at work, men bought their female colleagues flowers, usually carnations, and boys presented the girls in their class with flowers as well. Under the ‘one size fits all’ policy of the then command economy, female factory workers were given presents of tights.

During the eighties, Women’s Day, far too closely associated with the unpopular ‘People’s Republic’, gradually lost ground to the imported Western tradition of Valentine’s Day. In 1993, Women’s Day was abolished as a red-letter day, free from work.

Today, however, there seems to be an attempt to revitalise the day when, once a year, women can feel special. Middle-aged ladies can fondly look back to the time they received ‘A flower for Ewa’ as young girls and women, and schoolgirls often still receive flowers from the more gallant and old-fashioned of their male classmates.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)