Civic education in Poland: The promise and challenge of democratic education, curriculum hybridization and active teaching methods in Koss

Teresa Genevieve Wojcik, University of Pennsylvania


The fall of communism in 1989 precipitated the reform of civic education in Poland and other countries throughout central and eastern Europe. First published in 1994 by the Center for Civic Education in Warsaw, the KOSS curriculum represents a striking divergence from traditional approaches to civic education in Poland in two ways.1 First, it seeks to replace the "transmission" approach with student-centered methods, which its authors believe more effectively prepare students for active participation in a democratic society. Second, KOSS encourages teachers to be "co-authors" of the curriculum instead of "implementers." By inviting teachers to make modifications in the intended curriculum, the KOSS authors, in effect, promote curriculum hybridization. Yet both the curriculum's expectation that active teaching methods can prepare students for participatory citizenship and its call for curriculum hybridization are problematic. On the one hand, students are admonished not to be spectator citizens; on the other hand, students are given few opportunities for their own participation in citizen action outside the classroom, thus limiting their opportunity to learn participatory citizenship. The authors' call for curriculum hybridization is similarly contradictory. In tone and language, the curriculum materials portray teachers as co-authors and curriculum developers, yet in structure and form, they frame teachers as actors following a scripted play. This study examines how two junior high school teachers in and near Warsaw interpreted the KOSS curriculum's appeal for the use of active pedagogical methods and its contradictory call for curriculum adaptation. It also seeks to understand the meanings that the two teachers assigned to key civics concepts such as "democracy" and "citizenship." Document analysis of the KOSS textbook, lesson plans, and accompanying teacher resource materials brought to light the expectations of the KOSS authors concerning curriculum use by teachers and the type of democracy for which they were seeking to prepare Polish students. Interviews and observations in the two teachers' classrooms provided insight into their use of curriculum materials and their beliefs concerning the goals of civic education. 1KOSS is the acronym for the Polish name of the curriculum, "Kształcenie Obywatelskie w Szkole Samorządowej," which means "Civic Education in Local Government Schools."

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Social studies education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Wojcik, Teresa Genevieve, "Civic education in Poland: The promise and challenge of democratic education, curriculum hybridization and active teaching methods in Koss" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3197757.