Auschwitz in the morning, bonfire and disco in the evening. “Educational martyrdom” of Polish children
Photo: Jacek Bednarczyk / PAP
– The tragic fate of the youngest generations of Poles has a special dimension – claims Mikołaj Pawlak, Ombudsman for Children. That is why she wants children to have more lessons about martyrdom and the suffering of their peers. The point is that how they learn about it today is sometimes traumatic.
It was June and the end of the school year was approaching. Kasia’s class was to spend the last moments together in high school on a two-day trip. There was supposed to be a trip and attractions. Therefore, a visit to the Auschwitz Museum was planned, followed by a bonfire and a disco for 15- and 16-year-olds participating in the trip.
– It was absurd. I said I would not go – remembers Kasia. – But none of my teachers could understand what I mean. I felt that they put pressure on me because I kept hearing that “this is a place that every conscious person should see” and “you have to be there once in a lifetime” – he adds. Nobody cared about her emotions.
And Kasia could not imagine that she would spend the last moments together before leaving high school with her friends in this way. First cry and drama, then disco.
– In addition, it happened about a month after the school trip to Pawiak, which I also had a long time, says the teenager. – That trauma was intensified by the fact that in the group with which I was at Pawiak, some of the kids did not realize what we were actually watching – she adds.
The social psychologist, dr hab. Michał Bilewicz from the University of Warsaw. The research he co-authored shows that about 13 percent. After visiting Auschwitz, Polish students end up with secondary post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a neurotic disorder that has the same symptoms as PTSD, but the reasons for its appearance are different. Fear does not result from direct contact with traumatic events – it is enough for us to witness events that are difficult for other people. It happens, among others police officers, paramedics, firefighters – or, as the research shows – students visiting the places of extermination.
Researchers especially noticed secondary PTSD in adolescents who strongly empathize with the victims. They noted, among other things, trouble sleeping, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
Therefore, when the Ombudsman for Children, Mikołaj Pawlak, informed a few days ago that he would like to introduce “the issues of martyrdom of Polish children during the Second World War and the post-war years” to the core curriculum in schools, and was personally involved in the creation of a museum devoted to these topics, Bilewicz could not stand it. He asked sharply on Twitter: “Do you want even more martyrdom in Polish school? Seriously?”.
The rulers did not respond, but the psychologist was inundated with stories similar to that of Kasia. And with news full of fears that another institution is being created, which – thoughtlessly imposed as another place to diversify history lessons – may traumatize students. Because although almost everyone agrees that children should be taught about suffering, many doubts are left as to how it is done with us.
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