A voice to teachers
Czas Kultury 1/2020
Why the controversy around education reforms in Poland is about much more than pay; on the historical role of nursery-school teachers; Polish nationalism’s attitude to literary ‘nest-foulers’; and how dark secrets constitute community.
Eurozine review 9/2020
Letras Libres 5/2020
Czas Kultury 1/2020
O’r Pedwar Gwynt 1/2020
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Last year’s teachers’ strikes, despite being unable to force concessions, sparked a larger conversation, writes Agnieszka Jankowiak-Maik. ‘Teachers proved that the strike is not about higher wages, but about systemic change’, she writes in conclusion to her history of Polish education from the interwar years up until the present.
Kina Kuszak explores the underappreciated role nursery-school teachers have played in the Polish education system since the profession’s emergence in the nineteenth century. An individual’s success in the economy of the future, Kuszak writes, ‘will primarily be interpersonal, social and cognitive – the skills that preschool teachers will foster in the everyday educational experience for children ages three to six.’
‘In today’s Europe, and above all in Poland, Nestbeschmutzer (nest-foulers) can and indeed should appear,’ write editors Olga Szmidt and Wojciech Burek in a dossier on the subject. Jerzy Jarzębski discusses literary icons such as Czesław Miłosz to examine the attitude that nationalist compatriots display towards nest-foulers:
‘Of course, rulers always say that they accept “constructive criticism”, but the criteria by which constructive is distinguished from non-constructive are always vague, while the punishments for those who accuse their nation are quite real.’ Fostering the culture of the ‘salon’ – spaces that allow free expression without state intrusion – enables the survival of the Nestbeschmutzer, writes Jarzębski.
Marek Zaleski describes how dark secrets operate in society and how a community can work over generations to prevent discovery of the truth. An inconvenient secret ‘constitutes the community, becomes part of the world of intimate attachments surrounding these “mysterious truths”. You have to guard them faithfully, because their violation would be a catastrophe for the community.’
Agata Moroz explores nest-fouling in Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead and its film adaptation Spoor, directed by Agnieszka Holland. Are people who work to protect the environment benevolent nest-foulers when acting against others in their own community and species?
Published 22 May 2020
Original in English
‘It’s astonishing how quietly fifteen million communists walked away from power, with no bloodshed. Though, as it turns out, not altogether.’ Svetlana Alexievich talks to the Belarusian journal ‘Dziejaslou’ about the legacies of the Soviet past, literary freedom and the role of culture in the country’s democratic struggle.
Reviewing Iestyn Tyne with Irmtraud Morgner
Finding time and space for literature and reflection: Mererid Puw Davies’s poetry review advances the merits of literary fragmentation that cuts chronology and slots into layered lives.