Marcin Kilanowski Ph.D.
(Nicolas Copernicus University in Torun)
John Dewey (1859-1952)
„Education for Democracy”
John Dewey
formed the basis for the reform of the
American educational system, which started
paying attention not only to the education of
narrow technical skills but:
to broaden the democratic consciousness of
every student
with the goal of shaping a responsible
demoratic public life.
Aproaching the Goal
United States of America is an example how
Univeristies are still aproaching Dewey‘s goal
and improving their curriculum:
* to create better and better conditions for
educating not only on the level of expertise in
certain fields but also
* on the level of shaping individual criticism and
responsibility for the democratic public sphere
since the 2007/2008 accademic year
University Programm Board considered the
subject „Moral Reasoning“ as one that
should be part of each Harvard student’s
Moral Reasoning
„The common aim of courses in Moral Reasoning is to
discuss significant and recurrent questions of choice
and value that arise in human experience. They seek to
acquaint students with the important traditions of
thought that have informed such choices in the past
and to enlarge the students’ awareness of how people
have understood the nature of the virtuous life. The
courses are intended to show that it is possible to
reflect reasonably about such matters as justice,
obligation, citizenship, loyalty, courage, and personal
Harvard University
that only such qualifications, gained at the
University, will allow for responsible use of freedom
and civil rights.
that university is a place for shaping responsible
citizens of a democratic state
the most obvious fact, that today’s young
generations are the ones that will shape the future.
the ability for argumentation,
the ability to make reasonable ethical
the ability for critical thinking.
How about Poland?
Also at Polish universities – as in the United
States – we should not loose the chance to educate
students in a critical manner, and to foster their
understanding of the role they play and should
play in democratic society.
This is our responsibility (responsibility for the
future) to undertake such institutional and legal
decisions which will allow us to reach such a
Ministerial Standards of
Unfortunately we have to perceive present
Ministerial Standards of Education in Poland
regulating (among others) the amount of classes in
humanities and social sciences taught at particular
fields of study as faulty.
Ministerial Standards of Education allow for the
rejection of humanistic education from higher
university based education.
How is that possible?
Incoherent legal regulation
stating or not stating about the need
of classes in humanistic or social
Chapter V.2 Of the Standads
Standards refer to 118 fields of study:
Only in case of 36 fields of study there is a
requirement to inlcude 60 hours of „humanistic
classes” (but only in case of 1 field classes are
named specifically)
In case of other 19 fields of study there is
requirement to include 60 hours of classes „that
broaden humanistic knowleadge” (but only in case of
8 fields names of classes are specified)
Standards - continuation
In case of next 26 fields of study standard point out
the necessity to include 60 hours of „humanistic
classes” or classes „broadening humanistic
knowleadge” during the period of studies, but with the
possibility to teach „economics” instead.
In case of other 31 fields of studies there is no
requirement to include humanistic or social science
classes. Instead there is a requiremt to include 60
hours of „classes that broaden general knowledge”
(not naming them) - in fact this are: „ecology of the
Baltic see”, „emision of the voice”, „ecological
Last 6
Only in case of last 6 fields of study
humanistic classes and social sciences
classes are named specifically - but this
is due to the character of the studies.
Another possible way out
Ministerial Standars shape only 55%
(more or less) of the curriculum of
abovementioned fields of study.
45% of the curriculum is shaped by the
Universities, which can take care to
include humanistic classes or social
science classes in curriculum of every
field of study.
Why this is so important?
Because of the GOAL that we
should try to reach
The goal standing in front of us:
to take care for our democratic future by
using our chance and teaching students
among other things:
– crucial communicative skills (through
argumentation, debates)
– critical thinking
as the basis for creation of individuals
resposnible for themselve and for others – for
the public/social sphere.
Polish higher education
should consider to chose the same path as
American higher education in
understanding that – as Dewey said – our
„democratic road is the hard one to take“
because it „places the greatest burden of
responsibility upon the greatest number of
human beings“ (FC, LW 13:154).
Universities in Poland
should play a crucial role in educating that:
- democracy is a mode of associated living,
- a way of life, which involves active participation
of individuals in reasonable discussion, debate
about political and social affairs,
- it is „a cooperative undertaking, one which rests
upon persuasion, upon an ability to convince and
be convinced by reason“ (Dewey, MW 10:404).
Universities in Poland
should also teach the skills that will allow
their students to engage in such a dialogue
long after they will finish their studies.
Only such an education can be considered to
be a „quality“ education.
Thank you
Marcin Kilanowski Ph.D.
Nicolas Copernicus University
[email protected]
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