Saturday, June 02, 2007

Education Minister Giertych’s new school reading list


More Pope, less literature...

This is the latest great idea from the Roman Giertych Education Think Tank (which is about as subtle as a ‘tank’, but with very little ‘think’).

Giertych said yesterday on the radio that ‘teachers all around the country have sent in suggestions for what should be on compulsory reading lists for school students.' He said that more about John Paul II should be put on the list but…

Gombrowicz, Witkacy, Conrad, Kafka, Goethe, Dostoyevsky...

...should be taken off.

These are, of course, some of the most significant names in literature in the last century, or so.

The secretary of the late Witold Gombrowicz, Rita, for instance, told a newspaper this week that her former boss would have got the Nobel Prize for Literature (in 1969, I think) if he had lived a little longer. Unfortunately he died that year and the prize went to …Samuel Beckett.

So if Gombrowicz is good enough for a Nobel Prize then why shouldn’t he be good enough for Polish school kids’ reading lists?

I am not sure that teachers all over Poland really have been writing in pleading for Gombrowicz et al to be – like gays – banned from Polish schools.

So what has Giertych himself got against these writers, one wonders?

I am off to Amsterdam on a bit of journo bizzzzness. Next post Wednesday evening.

Ciou for now….

22 comments:

geez said...

I doubt that JP2 would have been too happy about the removal of any of these listed authors.

Gabriel said...

See my comment on the last post...

And Dostoevsky is arguably one of the most anti-Roman Catholic authors ever, it is, well... saddening, but should come as no surprise when you think of it.

Amsterdam? EBU stuff? Anyway, have a nice trip. Would have liked to see a comment on the Belarusian border guards demanding Polish priests to bring condoms in order to enter the country...

europejczyk said...

I feel it's obvious: Gombrowicz was an anti-Pole (and what's more, with a dubious sexual orientation), Kafka a Jew (and what's more, writing in Szwabszczyzna aka German), Goethe a Szwab (and what's more, a freemason and a womanizer), Witkacy an anti-Pole and a drug addict, Dostojewsky, though in principle a Slavic brother, a Moscovite and not catholic, and Herling-Grudzinski an emigrant (and what's more, a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Authoritarian). So who still wonders?

opamp said...

So what has Giertych himself got against these writers, one wonders?

You left out the most important part, that is, that he wants to use the space to put more Sienkiewicz in. So he is throwing out stuff that requires critical thinking and putting in 19th century patriotism (which the teachers like, because it is very simple in teaching).

geez said...

Didn't the communists place a heavy educational emphasis on Sienkiewicz, too?

europejczyk said...

The kind of patriotism that Sienkiewicz created and successfully propagated in his best-selling "Trylogia" was, in a certain sense, justified in pre-1919 Poland, when the country was divided among the neighboring great powers. Painting Poland's neighbors as black as possible and the noble and heroic Poles in brightest colors (hereby occasionally "correcting" history) was balm for the people's soul: Look, even if we today are in dire straits, how great and glorious were we once! And all our misery is not our fault, our enemies are to blame for it.
100 years later, things in the real world have changed, much in favor of Poland. But LPR and PiS seem to fail to have noticed these changes. They still live in the times of the Partition. Sienkiewicz's books (including Quo vadis, which is theologically outdated) today are of interest only for literary historians. The problems these books address and the worldview they express are obsolete in the 21st century.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is discussing CORE:
What about are reading list?
What should be their purpose?

Bashing one author over another goes nowhere - its only bashing Giertych.

europejczyk said...

The reading list is of paramount importance. Teachers MUST treat the works made obligatory. If not they can be fired for not fulfilling their duty. Students MUST read them (or at least "sciagi" of them), because they will be asked about their content in the final exams at the end of gimnazjum and liceum. Since the tests are the same all over the country and evaluated according to a standardized key which is preset by the Ministry of Education, teachers must teach their students the relevant "political correct" interpretation of these works, otherwise the students will fail.

BTW it is not true that Sienkiewicz hasn't been on the reading list before, as Giertych told the press the day before yesterday. 2-3 of his books were obligatory (the teachers could decide which to choose, and they in general chose W pustyni i w puszczy and Krzyzacy for gimnazjum and Potop or Ogniem i mieczem for liceum), and Potop e.g. appeared in one of the themes of the 2005 matura exam.

Goethe, Dostoevsky, Gombrowicz etc. were not thrown out in favor of Sienkiewicz's (well, his Quo vadis? was added to the list), but to make room for JPII and his biography, for three books by Dobraczynski, a third-class writer and one of the darlings of the PRL (its catholic fig-leaf), and Kossak-Szczucka, also a very provincial but catholic writer.

Anonymous said...

I assume that Tinky Winky will be on the list as the government has spent so much time and resources raising Tinky Winky's profile in Poland and overseas.

geez said...

Which biography of JP2 is on the list? Who is the author?

Isn't "catholic" the opposite of "provincial'?

varus said...

Geez: Isn't "catholic" the opposite of "provincial'?

Unfortunatly not! Christianity was meant to open peoples eyes, but many use it as a cover to close themselves off from the world.

europejczyk said...

@ geez:
Q: "Which biography of JP2 is on the list? Who is the author?"
A, quoting the section for gimnazjum (13 to 15 year old students):
"8. Examples of biographical literature (Pawel Zuchniewicz - Wujek Karol. Kaplanskie lata Papieza)"

geez said...

Gracias, e-czyk. I don't know anything about the author or book, though. Is it considered a good biography by historians or is it some filiopietistic fluff?

Anonymous said...

"catholic", unlike "Catholic", is an opposite of "provincial".

And if things continue this way, I'm afraid that "Polish" and "provincial" will become synonymous.

europejczyk said...

@geez:
Zuchniewicz studied journalism (Warsaw University 1986, Catholic Theological Academy 1988). He makes radio broadcasts ("Radio Jósef") and writes for the (PiS-friendly) daily "Dziennik" and the catholic weeklies "Niedziela" and "Gosc Niedzielny." In the last two decades, he accompanied JPII's visiting tours to Poland and some other countries and has already published several books on JPII.

He is the journalistic spearhead of the "Santo subito!" movement, demanding the immediate canonization of JPII. In 2006, he published a book about the "Miracles of JPII" that has also been translated into English, and you'll find enthusiastic readers' comments on amazon.com's Web site.

I haven't read any of Zuchniewicz's books, only some of his newspaper articles. But from all what I've read and what I've found out about Zuchniewicz's career, I guess that his JPII-biographies are mere hagiographies, in accordance with the Polish tradition of writing history first and foremost for "pokrzepienie serc" (boosting the spirit) of the people. And so they'll fit perfectly into Giertych's educational program.

geez said...

Thanks again, e-czyk. Good stuff to know.

Well, when I was a kid, I had to read propagandistic crap about Henry Ford and a bunch of other shits. So there's lots worse than a paen to Papa Jan P 2.

I'll really start getting freaked out when Polish kids have to start reading such stuff about Dmowski.

steppling said...

just another bad joke moment for this administration. It IS appaling.....after one stops laughing. But it makes poland appear not just provincial, but actively retarded.

michael farris said...

I notice that one of the big weeklies has a cover story this week (paraphrasing) "Everybody's laughing: 4th republic, the best cabaret in Europe".

Considering that Poland is a country where people are perpetually worried about their image abroad, I can't help but wonder how this is going to affect certain politicians/political parties.

Term Papers said...

You really are a good writer! I’m so glad someone like you have the time, efforts and dedication writing, for this kind of article… Helpful, Useful, and Charitable.. Very nice post!

Term Papers said...

Very good post. I have been searching for this post since many days. Now I have implemented the same for my site.

Anonymous said...

Интересно написано....но многое остается непонятнымb

Anonymous said...

Интересно написано....но многое остается непонятнымb