Saint Faustin Middle Grade School, Poland
If you want to build a ship, do not convene people and do not divide tasks, but teach them to long for the far and boundless sea -- Antoine de Saint Exupery said this a long time ago. If he lived in the next age, unfailingly he would add... and if yet you will ensure them to earlier gain entrepreneurial skills, surely they would discover “new America”, and you will gain satisfactions which will destroy nothing… Such a conclusion arises after a few years of work on shaping an entrepreneurial attitude at the secondary school in the Saint Faustin Middle Grade School in Swinice Warckie.
Why at the beginning of XXI century such importance is attached to the development of skills and of being effective and creative? The answer contains the most important, key-postulates... because such an attitude permits in the modern world, domineered by stormy, not easily foreseen changes, young people to realize their goals and to achieve success. Therefore every modern school acknowledges this task as one of their main priorities.
Teachers and students currently say our middle grade school “stands alongside entrepreneurship!” Why? One can read about it and most importantly about their undertakings, which were realized by its students, and can be read on many important websites, even on the website of the Ministry of National Education. Where do these successes come from? What is their origin? For the past several years one of the main areas of the school’s work, included in the programme of standard didactic actions, is shaping entrepreneurial attitudes. These tasks can be carried out by all teachers on every object and during all extracurricular activities. In our middle grade schools’ syllabus there isn’t one unit dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurship, therefore teachers had to seek the proper knowledge, to gain skills from other sources, to give their students the chance to act creatively. After the initial “wandering in the darkness” in the school year 2007/2008 followed a break-through.
Then the school established a cooperation with Junior Achievement Poland, which henceforth became partner and mentor. The first joint venture was carried out by Junior Achievement Poland and consisted of workshops for teachers on how to motivate students. Then the Principal chose a teacher who completed the training of leaders within school-entrepreneurship, in order to synchronize and intentionally shape entrepreneurial attitudes. This was the physical education teacher: Mr. Arnold Kaliszka who joined his own passion with a huge interest in youth with such forms of activity, looked after numerous groups carrying out a variety of undertakings.
He encouraged others to take brave steps and take on great challenges. Effects came very quickly. Initially, it was a local initiative which students named "Create your own future", and it became a huge success. Nursery gardens and decorative shrubs which were grown by students, experiencing next stages of the new road to becoming an entrepreneur, lasted for a long time in school. It delivered "material" which covered the local sites and squares with greenery. Students had to overcome many barriers which even for adults are often unusually stressful. They learnt to overcome shyness and behave properly in official situations – to talk to the village mayor, the bank director, with officials or with presidents of Associations. They overcame obstacles related to complexities of prints and forms. They wanted to be creative and active. They managed so well that they had gained even the recognition of professional experts. This Polish nationwide success served as an excellent motivation for other students. An interest in practical activity, interfering with lightly "hardened" reality of the environment became not only a way to spend time actively, but became a specific passion for young people. The following school year 2008/2009 brought a few new, remarkable projects. One of the most interesting was an attempt to focus attention on a very destroyed manor-house of Maria Konopnicka in Gusin located several kilometres from the school.
Students were upset with the fate of the walls, which we accompanying the great poet for five years. They decided on „the Centennial Plunderage” – so they called their actions. At first the small project interested the principal, teachers, village mayor, and even the starost and the voivode. Boldly they crossed thresholds of following institutions. Stubbornly they acquired not easy skills related to drawing of plans of the building and creating a photographic documentation of the manor-house.
Once again a shared, coordinated action brought an effect in the form of being on the top of the competition in Idea of 2009. Thanks to the initiative of young people and to the commitment of many institutions calling for the rescue of the ruins, the local authorities, district and media became interested. This chance created a possibility to change the buildings fate. Pupils became convinced that their action made sense! In this situation nobody was surprised, that in the second edition of the competition of the Ministry of National Education "Centennial Plunderage" had also won in the competition "Open School" in the area of civil education. The principal and guardian of the project-group Mr. Arnold Kaliszka and three leaders had the honour to meet with the Minister of Education Mrs. Katarzyna Hall.
Once more, the undertakings carried out by the secondary school students found immediate acknowledgement by the jury in the nationwide competition Idea 2011. This time students founded... a state within a state, calling it “A Not Ordinary Student Thing”. They created a government, wrote a constitution, and linked “party-” contacts... The local authorities and community became interested. They even went to Warsaw, to become familiar with the most important institutions in a real country. They united their entrepreneurial skills with the knowledge about the country, its bodies and most important documents. The success achieved by the students has also given material advantages for the school. For example, they brought with themselves modern and interactive computer hardware. However, most importantly it increased the chances of a small, lost in the Valley of Warta River, school to become known as one of the worlds best schools, strengthened the faith of students in the possibility of realizing their dreams thanks to the creativity and the courage in their actions and allowed them to live up beautiful moments of success.
The school year 2011/2012, although it did not bring victory in the nationwide competition, it distinguished itself with the number of carried out and notified participations in undertakings. It is worth underlining that as many as four of them were in the semi-final of the Idea 2012 competition. Junior Achievement Poland acknowledged that the school is worth aspiring for the name “A School with Passion”. Thanks to the implementation of projects shaping attitude and entrepreneurial skills our students created a specific tradition of set operations based on a creative approach to reality, developing activeness and creativity.
Most importantly, they could, cooperate with the nearest communities, essential institutions, associations or with individual businessmen, ambitiously and successfully realize creative undertakings. They became young people open to difficult challenges of the modern world.
Introduced by the Ministry of the National Education, the duty of realising educational projects by all middle grade school students forced teachers to constantly deepen their knowledge. Valuable was the previous experience gained during the realisation of undertakings based on the methodical support and content-related support given by Junior Achievement Poland. However, it became necessary to further develop the skills of the teachers. From the school year 2011/2012 the school signed up for an innovative project led by Junior Achievement Poland, called “Become Entrepreneurial” – an educational programme with a multimedia didactic pack for middle grade school partially financed by European Union funds. The teachers were trained not only how to support students at the realisation of projects, but also how to monitor their works (e – notes educators), how to motivate and how to document in a modern way the realisation of their projects.
Within two years students in first grades realised 12 projects under the care of their educators-moderators. Thanks to this they gained valuable, first hand experiences in the way of shaping proper entrepreneurial attitudes.
The participation of the principal and teachers in different forms of trainings increased chances for properly steering the development of skills and being creative and imaginative, as well as gave the chance to all educators to apply a conscious approach to the realization of educational projects in compliance with the rule, ”…so that they want to want..”.
Modern education in Polish schools should put special pressure on the shaping of young people with a creative approach to reality, prepared for generating innovative ideas, explorations, transformations, improvements and undertakings of new challenges.
The aim of the education is to develop a new generation of people who can independently think and solve problems, using knowledge, skills and abilities. Such processes became common in the Saint Faustin Middle Grade School in Swinice Warckie. Students' attitudes are set on developing entrepreneurial competences. Therefore, it’s hard to be surprised, that the Principal, conscious and seeking what is best, urgently follows all proposals, observes next actions of Junior Achievement Poland (FMP) and other institutions, waiting for new challenges, in order to... to arouse in his students "a longing for the boundless sea".
Publication of school results
“Award for Middle Grade School in Swinice Warckie” – Ministry of Education website
“Petitions recommended by experts concerning nominations for the II edition of the Open School competition” – Ministry of Education website
“They tried ‘Centennial plunderage’ and won" – The Lodz Education Office website
“IDEA 2011 competition completed” – Junior Achievement Poland website http://www.junior.org.pl/pl/a/Konkurs-IDEA-2011-zakonczony
Innovative methods of teaching how to develop working skills applying project methods in the Saint Faustin Middle Grade School in Swinice Warckie – “Innovation 2012”. Education for building an informed society in the Lodz voivodeship” – Public Information Bulletin –Lodz voivodeship
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