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New reading list. JGombrowicz stayed, the classics were shortened

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Gombrowicz is staying, even though Barbara Nowacka had previously wanted to throw him out of the school reading list. As of September 1, a slimmed-down core curriculum will be in effect in schools, and the Ministry of National Education has also published new reading lists. The classics are staying, but there are some changes. Material by Maciej Warsiński.

It has been an unequal fight for a long time. The curriculum dictated, time did not allow, teachers could not keep up, students did not read. Now it is supposed to be different, because there are to be fewer readings and students are to have comfort. – We assumed that instead of reading “briefs” (summaries of readings – ed.) – because when there was the entire reading, they most often read “briefs” – it is better for them to read fragments, because when fragments are discussed, when you only have to read a fragment, there is no chance that there will be such a “brief” who will talk about this fragment in sufficient detail – says Deputy Minister of Education Katarzyna Lubnauer.

There will be 20 percent fewer readings, which is a result that is easier to enforce. – This is supposed to be a moment of relief that we don't have 10 books, we have six for two years and in high school we only have 13 books for the entire high school course, which can really be done – adds Aleksandra Pezda, journalist, education expert.

Some, like “The Deluge”, will be cut. The same is true of “The Peasants” by Władysław Reymont, or even “Pan Tadeusz”. The question is whether less is more, or better.

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Readings in fragments

What kind of philosophy is it to study literature and learn about it if we only learn about fragments without a broader context and without learning the whole story that the author wanted to convey? – This is choice Exactly. Either we will pretend that we read everything, or we will read at least part of what would be worth reading and perhaps pursue it on our own – replies Pezda.

The list is still long, but a reduced one gives the teacher more options. Reduced does not mean castrated. Besides, it is difficult to consider the move of the Ministry of Education, strategically made at the beginning of the holidays, when schools are empty and students and teachers are thinking elsewhere, as epochal or revolutionary. But the moment itself is exquisite.

– Giving a reading list now and giving a regulation of this type when the holidays are already here is either too early or too late – comments Danuta Kozakiewicz, principal of primary school no. 103 in Warsaw. – People who are at school do not have the space to get used to these changes, to get to know them, to familiarize themselves with them before the school year begins – adds Dr. Iga Kazimierczyk, president of the “Przestrzeń dla Edukacji” Foundation, Wolna Szkoła Initiative.

On the one hand, the reading list needs refreshing, because for years new titles have appeared rarely, and it is not only about following fashions or reading trends, but about adapting to reality. On the other hand, it is difficult to escape from the classics or novels that were created in specific historical and social circumstances. A wise teacher will finally have time to analyze this at all.

What's gone? – Works by Karol Wojtyła, added by the previous government team, have disappeared, John Paul II and about John Paul II, and about Cardinal Wyszyński. The poems of the Smolensk poets disappeared, so it was a kind of cleansing of the list from the accretions of the previous government team – says Aleksandra Pezda.

– The problem is that we are unable to change it completely by reducing the core curriculum. Because it is still the same basis, the same textbooks, there is only a little less knowledge – said Katarzyna Lubnauer.

Change of core curriculum

– If a short task took us so long, the question remains how long a large task will take. The time horizon is already defined, but it is very short – said Iga Kazimierczyk.

The slimming of the core curriculum includes not only Polish and readings, but also 17 subjects throughout grades 4-8 and in secondary schools. Comprehensive changes are to enter Polish schools in 2026.

Author:Maciej Warsinski

Main image source: Marcin Bielecki/PAP

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