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Religion & Spirituality

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ROCZNIK KOMISJI NAUK PEDAGOGICZNYCH Tom LXVII, 2014: PL ISSN Łucja Reczek-Zymróz PAŃSTWOWA WYŻSZA SZKOŁA ZAWODOWA, KROSNO EDUCATIONAL COOPERATION OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN THE TARNÓW COUNTY WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY Abstract While the main goal of the primary school is to educate, the school s cooperation with the local community and the pupils families goes beyond the realization of its educational role. The establishment of a working relationship between these three key institutions of social life can foster proper personal development of children who are raised in such an environment. That process can in turn can result in better educational attainment of those children. If a well-educated person (not necessarily in the academic sense) is greatly valued in any kind of society, his/her status is even higher in the modern, knowledge-based world. Based on a research project in the Tarnów county in southern Poland, this article attempts to examine various aspects of the interaction between school and the local community. Key words: primary school / local community / family cooperation, goals and effects, the educational function, social integration, development of the child s personality INTRODUCTION Teachers knowledge about communication and cooperation in education, which is a conversation about a human being, has its basis in the humanistic approach. Humanistic theory assumes that a person s ability to study is a natural propensity, that students can think and learn for themselves and that each person is a creative entity. One learns through experience and learning is most effective when both one s mind and one s emotions are involved. Self-evaluation is a key aspect of this kind of learning and the discipline needed to achieve its aim is self-discipline. A pupil who sets off on his learning journey is influenced not only by his teachers but also by the local environment whose basic duty is to guarantee his or her safety. Moreover, he has the right to have his needs as well as his individual capabilities and interests respected or at 32 Łucja Reczek-Zymróz least acknowledged. 1 The humanistic orientation in education advocates the extension of a synergic school/parents communication to the local community, the teachers natural partner in the educational process. Synergy brings together and connects the operations of various agents in a way that is more effective and efficient than mere adding up of their separate actions. 2 An eye for synergies is what characterizes modern education at all levels. A synergic relationship is multilateral; it involves the educational establishment and the local community; it thrives through dialogue. The locals may speak with more than one voice, and though some or even all of these voices may have no direct connection to what goes on in school, the very existence of a community (be it uniform or divided) influences the learning process, if only indirectly. THE ROLE OF DIDACTICS IN THE MODERN PRIMARY SCHOOL From the modern perspective interaction holds the key to the student s progress in each and every way, from knowledge acquisition to upbringing. Interaction is a most effective catalyst not only in the process of acquiring information and learning skills and habits, but also the development of cognitive interests, preparation for self-education and an appetite for the cognitive search. According to S. Palka, the latest tendencies in education are characterized by versatility, understanding, multilateralism, ie. qualities which are given great scope in the shaping of feelings and character. subjectivity expressed by conscious participation in reality and having an effect on it. 3 This requires the balancing of two planes the plane of things and that of personality, objects and subjects. This balancing necessitates the treatment of students as subjects who experience the world and themselves in it, and who try to identify and understand objects and people and themselves as entities with a sense of causal power in relation to each other and the environment. 4 partnership (as defined by J. Grochulska). School education needs both compulsion and freedom. Freedom must not end up in licence and compulsion in tyranny and enslavement. Whereas the behavioural strategy is inclined towards compulsion and manipulation, the humanistic strategy runs the risk of giving the child more freedom than he/she needs. The best solution is to avoid extremes, ie. adopt a golden mean approach. The form and timing of such a balancing act will depend primarily on the teacher. 5 1 Cf. Psychologia humanistyczna a wychowanie, ed. M. Sobocki, Wyd. Uniwersytetu Marii Curie- -Skłodowskiej, Lublin 1994; and C.R. Rogers, Terapia nastawiona na klienta. Grupy spotkaniowe, Thesaurus-Press, Wrocław Cf. W. Kopaliński, Słownik wyrazów obcych i zwrotów obcojęzycznych, Wyd. Wiedza Powszechna, Warszawa 1989, p Cf. S. Palka, Pedagogika w stanie tworzenia. Kontynuacje, Wyd. Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, Kraków 2003, p Cf. E. Piotrowski, Podmiotowość ucznia w kształceniu integralnym, [In:] ed. K. Denek, F. Bereźnicki, J. Ś wirko-filipczuk, Przemiany dydaktyki na progu XXI wieku, Agencja Wydawnicza Kwadra, Szczecin 2000, pp Cf. J. Grochulska, Uczyć kierowania własnym losem, [In:] Pomiędzy wolnością a przymusem. W poszukiwaniu złotego środka w edukacji, red. J. Grochulska, Vol. II, Agencja Wydawnicza Kwadra, Szczecin 2000, pp Educational cooperation of primary schools in the Tarnów county 33 dialogue. It is founded on the ability to communicate and the ability to listen as well. creativity. Here it means learning through actions, encouraging and putting a premium on innovation, being ready to go beyond the letter of the curriculum. independence. Today it is manifested in the ability to find whatever information is needed on one s own and processing it correctly. 6 An important part of this process is the critical analysis of information and its provenance. The ability to source, manage and assess information (and to cut through loads of rubbish and spam) also realizes the goal of self-education. individualization of education. democracy and inner-directedness. Inculcation of those values should prepare the pupils for engagement in the creation of a better world, ie. a democratic and selfgoverning society. 7 tolerance. This value has a special meaning in the democratic system. In the words of J. Górniewicz, one should accept the great diversity of humankind and not only learn to cherish one s own distinctness but also insist that one s own rights and privileges be respected. 8 In order to further all those goals the modern school interacts through cooperation and dialogue with local community. The most obvious objective of such collaboration is to broaden the school s didactic mission and to improve the efficiency of the education processes. But the outreach has also other spinoff effects, chief among them the creation of better conditions for an all-round development of the pupils personalities. A working school/ local community partnership may affect and stimulate in less palpable ways the pupils cognitive potential, their ability to solve problems, search and select information, and use the newly acquired knowledge in practice. 9 It is hard to imagine a well-functioning partnership between the school and the local community that would not be based on the maintenance of lines of communication between the two parties, mutual acceptance of the form of negotiating collaborative projects, an awareness of constraints which any party has to face even if its commitment remains firm, patience and flexibility in dealing with limited commitments as long as they go in the right direction, a clear understanding of the mutual challenges, and a willingness to work towards the same goal. Both parts should bring trust and loyalty to the partnership. 10 If the cooperation is to include grass-root initiatives and genuine volunteers, its formula and content must not be dictated by the school authorities; indeed, it is the parents and representatives of local community who should have a greater say. But first of all, the latter should be able to discuss and join any collaborative project without being pushed or coerced by the other party. In the process of synergic communication dialogue is very important. To be effective the dialogue between teachers/school and the representatives of local community should embody or affirm the following characteristics: 6 Cf. S. Palka, Pedagogika, p Ibidem, s Cf. J. Górniewicz, Kategorie pedagogiczne. Odpowiedzialność podmiotowość, samorealizacja, tolerancja, twórczość, wyobraźnia, Wyd. Uniwersytetu Warmińsko-Mazurskiego, Olsztyn 2001, p Cf. Ł. Reczek-Zymróz, Współdziałanie pedagogiczne szkoły podstawowej ze środowiskiem lokalnym, Wyd. Impuls, Kraków Cf. W. O k o ń, Nowy słownik pedagogiczny, Wyd. Akademickie Żak, Warszawa 2007, p. 465. 34 Łucja Reczek-Zymróz the discreteness of subjects. They are to operate in a dyad, ie. focus on cooperation to achieve a common objective. the openness/presence of subjects. That implies full involvement in the realization of a common goal, in this case facilitating the child s progress and development. the unity of activity and passivity of subjects. In other words each party should treat the other one as a human subject with a complex personality and motivation; their face-to-face interactions should make the exchange and clash of ideas more effective. directness. Clear and frank discussions deepen mutual understanding; while the use of specialist language muddies the waters and leads to misunderstandings. 11 equivalence and mutual respect. Partners should not only divide their duties equally and fairly but also jointly plan and take responsibility for tasks ahead. complexity. Here it means an all-round approach to tasks undertaken to assist the physical, psychological and emotional development of children and adolescents. Education, upbringing and care should not be treated in isolation but as a complex, integral whole. correlation of actions. If the original goals appear too disparate and narrow they should be merged and integrated into a system of actions forming a whole. authenticity. It guarantees the credibility of agreements and actions; its opposites are posturing and opportunistic short-termism. planning. It is clear, dispassionate thinking focused on the accomplishment of future outcomes that would benefit the parties in dialogue. regularity. Here it refers to the frequency, rhythm and smoothness of actions directed at the children. an innovative touch about the social and didactic actions undertaken by the partners. 12 FORMS OF COOPERATION BEETWEN THE PRIMARY SCHOOL AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY The school local community communication, or the flow of information between the teachers and the local representatives, can have various forms and use a variety of channels. They include: conversations and pedagogical consultations. The latter is a more formal occasion which demands a great deal of preparation on the part of the teachers. It may involve an in-depth discussion of the school s tasks and its didactic programme; teachers may use the meeting to give their opinion about the functioning of the school, voice their expectations, or comment on the latest pieces of legislation from the Sejm or the Ministry of Education. 11 Cf. D. Waloszek, Dialog jako sposób istnienia podmiotów w edukacji, [In:] Przestrzeń i czas dialogu w edukacji, ed. D. Waloszek, Centrum Edukacyjne Bliżej Przedszkola, Kraków 2011, pp Cf. A. Jankowska, Rozmowy z rodzicami. Poradnik dla rodziców, Wydawnictwo Pedagogiczne ZNP, Kielce 2012; M. Ł obocki, Współdziałanie nauczycieli i rodziców w procesie wychowania, Wyd. Nasza Księgarnia, Warszawa 1985; and M. Mendel, Rodzice w szkole, [In:] Ku partnerstwu szkoła- -rodzice, ed. J. Kropiwnicki, Wyd. Nauczycielskie, Jelenia Góra 1999. Educational cooperation of primary schools in the Tarnów county 35 PTA meetings. This is the forum where all issues that in the triangle teachers parents pupils are raised. lectures/conferences. One should remember that the discussion topics should be chosen jointly by parents/representatives of local communities and the teachers. 13 letters or s. Such messages, written with due attention to their form, should be respectful in tone. Their language should be clear and precise. telephone calls. 14 Communication of the school with representatives of local community can also take place during visits in students homes. The aim is for the teachers to get to know the student s living conditions and the atmosphere in his/her family. during community events. They offer a good opportunity for informal meetings (picnics, sport tournaments, matches) and discussions of many issues connected with child s functioning at school, usually in a friendly atmosphere. through open classes. They are a valuable addition to the more common forms of cooperation with representatives of local communities. It is worth organizing such classes occasionally at a time that is convenient for parents and other people that may wish to attend. during classes conducted jointly by teachers and guest speakers representatives of various communities. A class of this kind affords the opportunity to get informed about certain issues from those that are directly affected by them. during club lessons after school. Such classes require careful preparation and a readiness to sacrifice their own time from those who would run them. during school excursions and daytrips. To those who have decided to join in, they offer a unique opportunity to communicate at leisure in informal circumstances. However, every outing requires a good deal of time and effort, the enlisting of the help of parents and other staff, etc. An outing is good for establishing closer interpersonal relations and integrating the group as it brings to light the individual temperaments and emotional reactions of the participants. by getting parents and other people (especially various handymen, but also sponsors) to help with redecoration, repairs and other odd jobs, or the purchase of items for the classroom. Apart from its practical value, this form of cooperation is an excellent illustration of the idea of school/local community cooperation. at charity events organized to help students and families in need. Such events unite the school and the local provide community round the realization of a specific task. They have a special role in the development of the pupils moral character (they have to show sensitivity and empathy). through the organization of psychological and legal consultation sessions. They too have a special role in the process of communication; they show the practical application of the technique of problem solving in an area of common concern to some parents, teachers and members of the local community. 13 Cf. B. Lulek, Współpraca szkoły, rodziny i środowiska, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Rzeszowskiego, Rzeszów 2008, pp Cf. I. Dzierzgowska, Rodzice w szkole, Wydawnictwo CODN, Warszawa 1999, pp 36 Łucja Reczek-Zymróz Regular exchange of information between school and local community contributes to: the consolidation of the school/parents/community cooperation and the streamlining of didactic and educational initiatives; raising the pedagogical awareness of parents and members of the local communities an expansion of the pedagogical know-how of parents and members of the local community; the involvement of parents and representatives of the local community in solving didactic and organizational problems of schools; 15 teachers getting better insight into their pupils homes and families;. the reduction of distance between teachers, parents and local community members that may result in establishing closer (more emotional) ties between them and in this way facilitate two-way communication and reciprocal understanding; the recruiting of devoted friends and supporters of the school among parents and representatives of the local community with a view of enriching classroom activities and adopting new educational and pedagogical methods for the benefit of students; 16 the dissemination of knowledge about children s development, upbringing and education; the organization of leisure activities for children; 17 the education of the general public about parents and children s rights and duties; knowledge transfer about the situation of children in various social environments; 18 the improvement of the educational process and the sharing of information about current socio-cultural issues affecting the educational system; the utilization of efforts and resources of the local and broader environment in the school s educational and pedagogical work (eg. renting rooms and equipment, enlisting the help of specialist instructors, enlisting the patronage and sponsorship of high-profile institutions and societies). 19 THE RESEARCH CONCEPT The main question raised in this study is the following: which of the communication strategies and practices in the school/local community relationship can best meet the educational requirements and challenges of the 21st century. To answer that question, which has both a more general and a practical side, I conducted a two-stage research project in selected primary schools of Tarnów and Tarnów County in Southern Poland. In 2013 a total of 90 teachers (45 from the and 45 from the ) took part in the survey. In this group of teachers there were 80 women and 10 men. Almost all of 15 Cf. N. Grochowska, R. Gugnacka, Ja jestem sobą i ty jesteś sobą, Wyd. Seventh SEA, Warszawa Cf. M. Ł obocki, Współdziałanie, pp Cf. M. Babiuch, Jak współpracować z rodzicami trudnych uczniów?, WSiP, Warszawa 2003, p Cf. M. Mendel, Rodzice i nauczyciele jako sprzymierzeńcy, Wyd. Harmonia, Gdańsk 2007, pp Cf. M. Winiarski, Współdziałanie szkoły i środowiska, WUW, Warszawa 1992, p. 151. Educational cooperation of primary schools in the Tarnów county 37 the respondents had a master s degree (88 altogether), just two had a licentiate degree. In terms of the length of their employment they fell into four classes: 1 to 6 years of work two persons; 7 to 14 years 28; 15 to 20 years 16; and more than 20 years on the job 38. As many as 62 persons held teacher s certificate Grade A, fifteen had Grade B certificate (mian, while the remaining eight held certificate Grade C (the bottom rank on the promotion ladder). A total of 120 parents (60 from the and 60 from the ) took part in the survey. In this group there were 102 women and 18 men. In terms of educational attainment, the group consisted of fifty university graduates, 44 persons with secondary education, twenty vocational school graduates and one person with a primary education. The biggest number of parents, 83 in all, had one child in primary school, 29 two children, and two parents three children in primary school. A total of 100 teachers (50 from the and 50 from the ) took part in the first round of the research project, conducted in 2006/2007. In that group of teachers there were 85 women and 15 men. A great majority of the respondents, 82 in all, had a master s degree, while only 18 teachers had a licentiate s degree. Classified in terms of their employment history, they fell into four groups: 19 respondents with 1 to 6 years of work; 24 respondents with 7 to 14 years of work; 27 respondents with 15 to 20 years of work; and again the largest group were more than 20 years on the job. A total of 200 parents (100 from the and 100 from the ) took part in that survey. In this group there were 165 women and 35 men. In that number there were 44 university graduates, 101 persons with secondary education, fifty with vocational diplomas, and five with primary school certificates. The biggest group of parents, 129 in all, had one child in primary school, 62 two children, and nine par
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