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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Reading? We know who will read what and when. Sorry, Winnetou

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Without the poems of Marcin Świetlicki and “Winnetou”, but with many texts about John Paul II and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. Here is a reading list for the new school year, broken down by education stages and students’ advancement levels.


Minister Czarnek made threats and, almost from the beginning of his tenure in the Ministry of Education, announced that he would change the reading list. In the end, he only started it last summer, and the changes that he introduced from September 1 concern mainly supplementary reading.

Grades 1-3

In grades 1-3, when children are to gradually improve their reading skills, teachers have the greatest freedom in their choice of reading material. Ministerial experts have compiled a list of recommended books for them, but as knowledge of these is not tested in any external examination, teachers are free to choose books from outside this list. What is – as they often claim – the biggest challenge for them is the lack of a sufficient number of copies in the school library if they would like to introduce something new to their lessons. This is one of the reasons why the youngest in Poland have been reading the same books for years. Often older than the parents of today’s freshmen.

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Grades 4-6

In grades 4-6 of primary school, reading material is divided into compulsory and supplementary reading. The knowledge of the former may be checked at the eighth-grade exam. On the other hand, teachers can add their own suggestions to the supplementary list, if they wish. What is certain is that they will no longer obligatorily read “Winnetou” by Karol May.

When the minister in the summer decided to change the reading list for this stage of education, the loudest dispute concerned the novel by Rafał Kosik. The minister wanted to remove her from the schools altogether, and Kosik was called in the media a “cursed writer”. Eventually, the book was included on the supplementary list.

Grades 7-8

Reading in the last grades of primary school is governed by the same rules as in grades 7-8. Compulsory reading knowledge will be checked at the end of school, supplementary – although the ministry has created a very long list – can be supplemented at the request of teachers.

In grades 7-8, teenagers will no longer read Nancy H. Kleinbaum’s book, Dead Poets Society, which was previously on the required reading list.

High schools and technology – elementary level

In the list of compulsory reading in secondary schools, the ministry practically did not interfere. The only significant change is the removal of Marcin Świetlicki’s poems from the list. So far, teachers have analyzed selected works of the poet with their students.

On the supplementary reading list, however, a lot happened. Minister Czarnek added 10 items: “Chronicle of Polish Princes” edited by Jerzy Wojtczak-Szyszkowski, Juliusz Słowacki – “Letters to the Mother” (fragments), Henryk Sienkiewicz – “Letters from a trip to America” ​​(fragments), Stefan Żeromski – “People homeless “, a selection of poems by Ryszard Krynicki and Adam Zagajewski, Witold Pilecki -” Witold’s Report “, Wiesław Kielar -” Anus mundi “, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka -” Pożoga. Memories from Volhynia 1917-1919 “, selected short stories by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and his “Lord of the Rings. The Fellowship of the Ring”.

High schools and technology – advanced level

In secondary schools, the Polish language can also be learned at an extended level – usually in humanities, journalism or arts classes. Schools decide about profiles. For students who learn Polish in such an extended dimension, the Ministry of Education has also introduced changes. Students will no longer discuss the following items: Jan Parandowski – “Mythology, Part II Rome”, François Villon – “The Great Testament”, Piotr Skarga – “Lives of the Saints”.

On the extended level, this year’s supplementary readings will additionally include: Zofia Kossak-Szczucka – “Blessed Wines”, Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski – “Strong People; People, Animals, Gods”, Krystyna Lubieniecka-Baraniak – “When a brother becomes an executioner” , John Paul II – “To Cross the Threshold of Hope” (fragments), “The Roman Triptych”, “Memory and Identity” (fragments), “Fides et ratio” (fragments), Karol Wojtyła – “In front of the jeweler’s shop”, Stefan Wyszyński – ” Prison Notes “and Paweł Zuchniewicz -” Father of Free People. A Tale of Primate Wyszyński “.


At tvn24.pl, we will be looking at the ideas of Minister Przemysław Czarnek and his advisers in the coming school year. We will translate the official language of laws and regulations into the language of school practice. We will assess with the experts whether what is behind these ideas and proposed solutions will be beneficial for students and teachers. We will check whether the autonomy of schools is under threat. And will parents really have an impact on the education and upbringing of their children? All this – articles, interviews, videos, interactive infographics, research reports – can be found on our website under the slogan #continuously.

Main photo source: imago / United Archives / EAST NEWS

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