Tomasz Maliszewski by gegeshandong


									Tomasz Maliszewski

Folk High Schools in Poland in 20th century

        The studies on the history of Polish Folk High Schools pose a considerable difficulty
at their very beginning. The question is: how far back in history should we go to trace social
institutions or other organised forms of educational activity, or Polish theoretical
considerations that match the ideas described by the phrase Folk High School? Should it be
the first half of the period between the two World Wars, when the Folk High School in Dalki,
headed by A. Ludiwczak (1921) and soon afterwards – the Folk High School in Szyce –
headed by engineer I. Solarz (1924) were established, and when the name Folk High School
was officially used for the first time in Poland after the State had regained its independence
after the First World War? Or maybe anything that became operational after the year 1900
when the Mazovian Pszczelin was established can be treated as the outset of Polish Folk High
Schools? Or maybe we should look for the beginnings of the idea of Polish Folk High Schools
even earlier – in the texts of Warsaw positivists, or great Polish pedagogues of 19 th century?
They wrote about rural areas and enlightenment for the common people by education. And
they wrote so beautifully! Or maybe the date our research should start from is the year 1844
when the first Danish school based on the ideas of the “Father” of the world Folk High School
movement, M.F.S. Grundtvig was established? It all depends on the adopted perspective.
Today nobody in Poland dares to undermine the significant influence of the Danish original
on both the concept and the practice of Polish Folk High School movement throughout the
whole of 20th century 1. There is a consensus on this issue among Polish researchers, which,
does not, however, release any researcher from the duty to try to find “national historical
references”, to select from the history of national education the episodes or signals that could
be responsibly included into the chronological sequence of events that had led Polish people
to establishing Folk High Schools2. Six periods have been distinguished for the purpose of the
study on the history of Folk High Schools in Poland. The division is based on: the differences

 Although there are discussions on whether the ideas have come to Poland indirectly, via Sweden for example,
which some works suggest: A. Bron-Wojciechowskiej, Grundtvig. Warszawa 1986, p. 96-98 or T. Maliszewski,
Polacy a szwedzki uniwersytet ludowy. Zarys historyczny wzajemnych kontaktów. [in:] Polacy w Skandynawii,
ed. E. Olszewski, Lublin 1997, p. 375.
 Similar suggestions are made by German researchers (comp. e.g. E. Przybylska, System edukacji dorosłych w
Republice Federalnej Niemiec. Radom 1999, p. 46), Dutch researchers (comp. e.g. J. Zwart, Ewolucja koncepcji
Wyższej Szkoły Ludowej społeczności Fryzów. “Rocznik Andragogiczny 2000”, Warszawa-Toruń 2001, p.167-
170) or specialists from other countries.
in social and political situation, the differences in the theoretical approach to the problem of
“education for the common people”3 and the variety of organisational forms. The detailed
educational measures taken up in the given periods used to have – apart from a number of the
features common to the idea of Folk High School – also a different, specific character
conditioned by the social, economic and political situation.
        This study is not going to be a comprehensive analysis of the history of Polish Folk
High Schools. Neither the limited space of this publication, nor the research results on the
history of those institutions justify such a status of this paper. However, it reminds the readers
of those aspects from the history of Polish Folk High Schools that can contribute to the
development of the concept of Folk High School of the future as a part of the project “Folk
High School – School for Life”, that can inspire, stimulate reflections or warn against going
too far from the original sources and ideas of Folk High Schools..
        In the final part of the considerations, the author was tempted to additionally recall
some thoughts from the past that could on the one hand be treated as a good illustration of the
character of Folk High School, and on the other hand – could be used, at least some of them,
in the considerations on the future of the whole concept of Folk High Schools, not only in

        Period I – preparatory: from 1770‟ to the end of 1800‟s.
        The 1770‟s were termed the turning point in deliberations on the development of the
Folk High School concept in the territory of Poland. The shock caused by the first partition of
Poland stimulated a broad discussion of political elites on the need to rescue the country. The
hopes for counteracting the national disaster were linked with, inter alia, the programme of
thorough educational reforms. The favourable coincidence of external events – breve of
Clemens XIV of 1773 liquidating the order of Jesuits, considerably facilitated activities aimed
at liquidation of the old educational system. The National Board of Education set up at that
time and its activities did not manage to protect the country but set the way of thinking which
in the following decades resulted in a wide spectrum of theoretical concepts and practical
activities for the “education for the common people” close to the ideas of Folk High Schools.
The general organising principle of all the activities taken up at that time was the involvement

  The term common people is used here according to the distinguished activist of the folk movement in Galicja –
Bolesław Wysłouch: „The term common people refers to all the classes, rural and urban, that do manual or
intellectual work and consider that work to be the only title for honours”. In this sense common people are the
core of the nation.” /B. Wysłouch, Szkice Programowe.”Przegląd Społeczny” 1886 [following:] Cz. Wycech, 70
lat ruchu ludowego, Warszawa 1965, p 29/.
of as many social groups as possible in the process of building a modern state and state
        Two episodes to which Polish Folk High Schools will refer in the future can be found
as early as at the end of 18th century. Today‟s Kashubian Folk High School will refer to one
of the initiatives of Józef Wybicki from the period of 1772-1775, who organised “a small
academy” in his real estate in Będomin near Kościerzyna. He tried to implement his own
concepts of civic education there. “The academy attracted the local youth with whom
Wybicki discussed political and economic problems of the country and to whom he presented
his visions of salvaging the country. And the Baltic Folk High School in Opalenie (1981-
1989) looked for its roots in the activities of Jakub Czapski and his followers, who organised
Opalenie Academy in their palace in the period of 1772-1795. They arranged meetings of
Polish patriots, which gave rise “to independent youth and educational organisations” 4. The
contemporary references emphasise the concepts of Wybicki and that of the Czapski family
which were closely linked with the idea of Folk High Schools that appeared a few decades
later, the concepts that we particularly treasure, partially because they originate in our area –
in Poland and in the Pomeranian region.
        When M. F. S. Grundtvig formulated his ideas of civic school for peasants in the first
half of 19th century, the concepts of non-school civic education also appeared on the territory
of Poland. K. Libelt‟s “Ideas on Education of Peoples” was published in 1841. Two years
later he wrote an article “On Civic Courage”, postulating further political education after
completion of school education. Similar postulates were included in the paper ”On Love to
the Homeland” from 1844. And B. Trentowski emphasised that “our commons, when
admitted to the light, human dignity and civic freedom, will refresh the country, will inspire it
with a new life” (“Chowanna, That Is the System of National Pedagogy”, 1842). In 1849, the
Poznań magazine “Nowa Szkoła” [„New School”] published a text by E. Estkowski under the
title: “Further Education of the Youth after They Have Completed Elementary Education and
the Resulting Need for Sunday Schools”, which pointed out to the necessity to provide
education to the young people below 21 years of age. Those pedagogues believed “that the
common people have elements of the true national culture and that their enlightenment will
lead to their independence and to creating Polish independent philosophy”5. These are views

  T. Maliszewski, Historia i kierunki działalności edukacyjnej Kaszubskiego Uniwersytetu Ludowego. “Rocznik
Andragogiczny 1999”, Warszawa-Toruń 2000, p. 183-184; W. Jedliński, Bałtycki Uniwersytet Ludowy w
Opaleniu 1981-1989. Komitet Odrodzenia Uniwersytetów Ludowych “Młody Las”, Malbork [1995], p. 15-16.
  S. Kot, Historia wychowania, v. 2. Państwowe Wydawnictwo Książek Szkolnych, Lwów 1934, p. 293-294.
similar to Gruntvigian concepts, but whether their authors knew the writings of the Danes or
his Scandinavian followers – is not known. The concepts of folkhøjskole were introduced, and
the postulates of Polish pedagogues unfortunately remained in the sphere of theoretical
        Poles reached Scandinavian Folk High Schools, paying short study visits as early as in
the second half of 19th century. Publications in Warsaw press, starting the end of 1880‟s,
confirmed the growing interest in the educational innovation from the North. In 1888, the
weekly magazine “Głos” [“Voice”] (No 31) published information entitled “Peasant High
Schools in Denmark”. The year 1891 was important in terms of how Folk High Schools were
perceived in Poland. “Przegląd Pedagogiczny” [“Pedagogical Review”] of J. Dawid published
at the time (in its No 3) an article entitled “Peasant High School in Sweden” by an anonymous
author. As many as three texts on folkhögskola by Zofia Kowalewska were published in the
same year: “Peasant High School in Sweden” in “Przegląd Tygodniowy” [“Weekly Review”]
(volume 2) and shorter information in “Głos” weekly magazine (No 6; No 7). The following
year the same “Głos” published an article entitled “Folk High Schools in Scandinavian
Countries” (No 41).7 This was the first message about the new educational trends in Poland.
So the information about Scandinavian Folk High Schools started to reach the Polish reader at
the beginning of 1890‟s – first from Sweden and then from other countries as well – mainly
from Denmark. The publication by S. Michalski (1902, Warszawa) gained certain popularity
in Poland, as well as the text by Z. Kowalewska on Swedish folkhögskolor from “Przegląd
Tygodniowy”, which was later published as a brochure (1903)8. It all contributed to growing
interest in novel ideas from the North inspiring similar initiatives in the territory of Poland.
      The growing industrialisation of the country and growing demand for agricultural
products changed views on the need to educate rural youth, to prepare them to manage their
farms in more efficient ways. The proposals for agricultural education of the last decade of
19th century included the initiative of the Apiarian and Gardening Society in Warsaw. Starting
1891, it delivered ten-day courses for the rural youth. Maksymilian Malinowski managed the

  A. Bron-Wojciechowska, op. cit., p. 92-95; E. Sławińska, Koncepcje i rozwój literatury dla ludu w latach
1773-1863. Wydawnictwo Uczelniane WSP w Bydgoszczy, Bydgoszcz 1996, p. 85-86; J. Sobański,
Pozaszkolna oświata rolnicza. Studium historyczne. Wydawnictwo Akademii Rolniczej w Poznaniu, Poznań
1996, p. 28-34.
  A. Bron-Wojciechowska, op. cit., p. 96-98.
  J. Słomczewska, Bibliografia uniwersytetów ludowych. [in:] Z ludźmi – ku ludziom. Materials from II Congress
of Folk High School Society, National Board of Union of Rural Youth, Warszawa 1982, p. 124-144; S.
Michalski, Uniwersytety chłopskie w Danii, Szwecji, Norwegii i Finlandii. [in:] Poradnik dla samouków, v. 4. Z
zapomogi Kasy dla Osób Pracujących na Polu Naukowym im. dra Józefa Mianowskiego, Publishing House A.
Hefflich and S. Michalski, Warszawa 1902; Z. Kowalewska, Uniwersytet chłopski w Szwecji. Księgarnia
Naukowa, Warszawa 1903, pp.47.
courses, and Jadwiga Dziubińska looked after the students. “Although it was allowed only to
teach bee-keeping and gardening in a practical way, the prohibition of teaching theory was not
observed and theoretical teaching in the form of lectures and speeches was delivered as well.
In that way, apart from the teaching professional skills, also an illegal programme of social
education was implemented. The courses became vulnerable to infiltration by radical ideas.
The most important objective was the increase of social and patriotic awareness and
awakening human dignity in students. The popularity f the courses can be credited, inter alia,
to the lectures on the history of Poland and Polish literature”. The success of the courses
motivated the activists of the Society to try to establish a school of agriculture. In 1898, a
piece of land was bought in Otrębusy near Brwinów, in the Warsaw region, and preparations
to establishing the school were made. The institution was called Pszczelin. 9
        The whole of 19th century saw the maturing of the ideas in the Polish society that in
the following century gave rise to Folk High Schools. On the one hand, the active pedagogical
involvement of Polish authors and the activity of various social educational organisations in
all the three parts of partitioned Poland, on the other hand, the more and more advanced
knowledge on the views of Grundtvig and his followers and on the practical side of the
operation of Folk High Schools in Scandinavia, made the progressive elites connected mainly
with the rural communities, to attempt establishment of residential educational institutions for
adults, run according to the ideas mentioned above.

        Period II: 1900-1918
        In 1900, the Ministry of Agriculture in Petersburg granted approval for launching, in
Pszczelin, eleven-month courses of bee-keeping and gardening of practical character
(“gardening farm with a one-year course for peasant land owners”). The first year of
educational work of the new institution, headed by J. Dziubińska, started in October 1900.
According to the activists of the Apiarian and Gardening Society, the institution was not so
much to prepare the students to cultivate land in a modern way but to awaken the spirit of
social activists in them and educate future leaders of local communities. “They decided to
cheat the tsar authorities and, under the cover of practical vocational teaching, to implement
the programme of intellectual and moral education in order to form civic and patriotic
attitudes in the students”. Under the influence of the revolution of 1905 and its educational
slogans, the institution put more emphasis on teaching general subjects and on preparing the

 T. Wieczorek, Ludowe szkoły rolnicze związane z ruchem zaraniarskim. [in:] Dzieje szkolnictwa i oświaty na
wsi polskiej do 1918, ed. S. Michalski. Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, Warszawa 1982, p. 214-215.
students for self-education “by studying literature and participation in short courses”.10 Thus
the first educational institution appeared “with some features of a Folk High school”, in
Poland, as T. Pilch called the Pszczelin type of school many years later. 11 By the end of 1914,
when the First World War complicated the situation, similar initiatives were taken up in
Kruszynek, Sokołówek, Gołotczyzna, Krasienin and Bratny. That period is relatively well
known and described in Polish literature of the subject. It seems obvious that the knowledge
of the objectives, the tasks and the programmes of Danish and Swedish Folk High Schools, as
well as the examples of Czech and Moravian schools by the Polish founders of such
institutions considerably influenced the character and methods of the courses run there. The
analysis of the programmes and class schedules proposed by those institutions confirm this
thesis. To teach modern farming and not to neglect the national education issues, turning
students into enlightened citizens involved in the transformation process and nourishing
everything that is Polish – those were the main directions and objectives of those activities.
The programme of such an institution (for young women) was presented by Irena Kosmalska
in her programme speech made at II Polish Pedagogical Congress in Lvov in 1909: “to help
the student to develop her own ideas about the relationship between an individual and the
society and make her capable of taking part in collective work and efforts for the social
good”. In order to do that the teaching staff should teach the students to love reading, and an
“adequately composed library” should be very helpful in this respect, and “important
components of the school programme should include: singing together, performances, even
dancing and finally excursions”. And “living at the school premises should prepare the
students for co-existence in the society” and for co-responsibility and democracy because “an
important role is going to be played by colleagues‟ club, which should be supported but not
managed by the school ”. The author looks for theoretical support of her considerations both
in Grundtvig‟s ideas (reminding the listeners, for example, of his notions: ”Man at the age of
18-25 is a flower, followed by ripe harvest. If we influence man‟s thoughts at that age, if we
show him the life‟s goal and the way to live, then his whole life will be a good harvest”), and
in Poland – reminding the listeners about the achievements of the Board of National
Education and the ideas of Grzegorz Piramowicz (inter alia: “learning is not the goal but the

  Ibidem, p. 215-216.
  T. Pilch, Wspólnota korzeni ruchu ludowego i uniwersytetów ludowych. [in:] Chłopi-Naród-Kultura. Volume
4: Kultura i oświata wsi, ed. A. Meissner, Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Pedagogicznej. Rzeszów 1996, p. 301.
means, and school is to be a school of life, of decency and virtue” or “school not for school
but for life”).12
        The researchers point out that the agricultural Folk High Schools” were “some of the
best” among all the rural schools in Poland at that time.13
        The period of 1906-1908 saw the initiative called Folk High School in Radom area.
The influence of socialists was very strong there and, naturally enough, educational activities
took place mainly in the workers‟ and intelligentsia communities of Radom, Ostrowiec,
Kozienice, Starachowice and the areas around those towns. The educational activities of the
Radom Folk High School included: “a) single lectures or series of lectures on natural
sciences, history, literature, philosophy, social and economic sciences and political rights; b)
systematic lectures on all branches of knowledge, including reading, writing and mathematics;
c) theatrical performances, concerts, reciting and science and art shows; d) lending books to
be read at home and reading magazines at school”. The school was financed from the
members‟ contributions, donations, as well as from the income on the library, lectures and
performances.14 Radom Folk High School maintained close contacts with the Warsaw High
School for All and, despite the fact that the school was not designed for the residents of rural
areas, some of the methods used there were similar to those of Folk High Schools. The phrase
Folk High School was for the first time officially used in Poland.
        The High School for All was established by the intelligentsia circles linked with Polish
Socialist Party and operating in the Russian part of Poland between December 1905 and
October 1908. Its wide educational offer was designed mainly for workers. That organisation
also had a clearly peasant accent, particularly interesting for the deliberations of this paper.
Between 3 January and 16 February 1907, the High School for All ran Peasant High School
classes under the supervision of Stefania Sempołowska in Warsaw. The course was to
stimulate the social and educational movement in rural areas, and was attended by 21
villagers. Here is how one of the participants remembers the course: “The year 1907 will be a
memorable year in the history of peasant education. It is public knowledge, that the first
school for peasants, Peasant High School has just been established. It must be a wonderful
thing! Oh, yes, my dear reader: it is a school in which peasants, the ones that normally plough

   I. Kosmowska, Szkoły gospodarcze dla dziewcząt włościańskich. Speech made at Polish Pedagogical
Congress in Lvov. “Szkoła” 1910, No 1 [following:] Postępowa myśl oświatowa w Królestwie Polskim w latach
1905-1914. sel. and ed.: Z. Kmiecik, Państwowe Zakłady Wydawnictw Szkolnych, Warszawa 1961, p. 267-274.
   J Miąso et al., Oświata na ziemiach polskich u progu niepodległości. [in:] Historia wychowania. Wiek XX, ed.
J. Miąso. Volume I. Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa 1980, p. 11.
   Uniwersytet Ludowy Ziemi Radomskiej. “Kultura Polska” 1908, No 2. [following:] Postępowa myśl..., op. cit.,
p. 236-240.
fields, study such things as astronomy and geology, during astronomy classes they observe the
objects in the sky through magnifying glasses, called telescopes in that case, then they study
political and civic law, history of the world and history of Poland, and many, many other
subjects. Distinguished researchers teach at that school, teachers that universities would like
to have. We know what such schools are like in Western Europe, especially in Denmark.
They did miraculous things there and they are the most important source of material and
spiritual wealth” In 1908, at the initiative of the Society of Rural Communities named after S.
Staszic, another 40-day residential course for peasant men and women was organised. It was
attended by 35 participants. Unfortunately, the Peasant High School did not continue its
operation for a long time.15
        The idea of Folk High Schools appeared in the Prussian part of Poland ca 1910, among
the people involved in the Society of Folk Libraries (TCL). It was popularised by rev. Antoni
Ludwiczak, mainly in “Przegląd Oświatowy” [„Educational Review” magazine].16 Even
before Poland had regained independence, IX Educational Congress of the Society instructed
the General Council and the Executive Board of TCL to prepare, without delay, establishment
of a residential Folk High School as a Polish version of Grundtvigian ”school for life”, which
“does not put so much emphasis on the teaching itself but wants to prepare young people for
the school of life, which lasts till the end of ones days”. So it teaches young people “to make
use of their eyes, ears and mind, it teaches to ask questions, to search and to select, it teaches
to choose among life values and to look for the most important goals in the way that does not
let young people stop their search”.17
        In the Austrian part of Poland, the ideas resembling “school for life” originated in
social educational organisations. The Society of Folk High School (est. 1891), involvement of
Bolesław and Maria Wysłouch and the Society of Friends of Education (est. 1890) and the
Society of Folk High School named after A. Mickiewicz (est. 1898) should be mentioned
here. Despite the fact that they referred to different ideas and different methods of educational
work, those people and organisations aimed at preparing peasants for independent and

   P. Koczara, Uwagi słuchacza Uniwersytetu dla Wszystkich. “Zagon” 1907, No 10. [following:] Postępowa
myśl..., op. cit., p. 279-281; J. Miąso, Uniwersytet dla Wszystkich (UdW). [in:] Encyklopedia oświaty i kultury
dorosłych, ed. K. Wojciechowski. Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich – Wydawnictwo, Wrocław 1986, p. 365-
   J. Sutyła, Miejsce kształcenia dorosłych w systemie oświatowym II Rzeczypospolitej. Zakład Narodowy im.
Ossolińskich – Wydawnictwo, Wrocław 1982, p.142.
   A. Ludwiczak, Zadania uniwersytetów ludowych. “Przegląd Oświatowy” 1933, p. 3; K. Kabziński, Powstanie
i działalność uniwersytetów ludowych Towarzystwa Czytelni Ludowych w okresie międzywojennym. [in:]
Instytucjonalne formy edukacji dorosłych w Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej, ed. E Sapii-Drewniak, A Stopińskiej-
Pająk. “Biblioteka Edukacji Dorosłych 22”, Wydawnictwo ITE, Warszawa 2001, p. 111-115.
conscious participation in the life of their local communities and of the entire nation by
adequate education.18
        The First World War considerably limited the activities of organisations and
institutions of independent education in rural areas.19 But the dream of J. Dziubińska I.
Kosmowska, rev. A. Ludwiczak and many other educators about Polish Folk High Schools in
the free restored Republic of Poland were to come true soon.

        Period III: The period between the two World Wars
        The knowledge on the development of the idea of Folk High Schools at that period
seems to be far from complete. Not until long ago the only generally known Folk High
Schools of that period were the ones run by I. Solarz in Gać and Szyce. The school in Dalki
near Gniezno has been the subject of more detailed analyses for a few years now. And the
more insightful studies indicate wide range of both ideas and programmes.20 The collected
data show an interesting image of Folk High Schools as important components of Polish
educational scene in rural areas, regardless of how individual Folk High School communities
understood their mission and for which community they worked. The twenty-year period
between the two World Wars can be divided into two sub-periods: 1918-1931 and 1932-1939
due to certain differences between them. The arbitrary date separating the two periods is the
date of establishing Folk High School in Gać Przeworska.
        a) the period of 1918-1931
        The first Folk High School in Dalki, run by the Society of Folk Libraries, was opened
on 4 October 1921, after a long period of developing the concept of the institution. According
to rev. A. Ludwiczak, the school was to be “a bridge between the enlightened and the
unenlightened classes of the nation. So that the young people who were not able to take up
regular studies could complete their education in the shortest possible time”, and “the national
idea is the guiding principle, and the national idea is strictly connected with the religious

   E. Podgórska, Udział ruchu społeczno-politycznego i oświatowego w walce o emancypację edukacji
społeczności wiejskiej. [in:] Dzieje szkolnictwa i oświaty na wsi..., op. cit., p. 276-292.
   The name of Folk High School itself, however, appeared again, when “during the German occupation during
the First World War, the operation of the former High School for All was restored under the name of Folk High
School, located in Warsaw at Fredry street and then at Oboźna street 4. The School authorities consisted mainly
of radical Left Wing and Polish Socialist Party members”. The institution operated till 1924, and had very strong
connections with Communist Party of Poland. Comp.: R. Klonowski, Towarzystwo Uniwersytetu Robotniczego
1923-1939. Zakład narodowy im. Ossolińskich – Wydawnictwo, Wrocław 1980, p. 72-75.
   Interesting materials – along with proposal for typology if Polish Folk High Schools in II Republic of Poland
can be found, inter alia in the works of: J. Sutyła, op. cit.; S. Mauersberg, Komu służyła szkoła w Drugiej
Rzeczypospolitej. Społeczne uwarunkowania dostępu do oświaty. Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich -
Wydawnictwo, Wrocław 1988; T. Pilch, Czym jest uniwersytet ludowy. [in:] Z ludźmi ku ludziom..., op. cit.
idea”21. It is reflected in the programme offer proposed by that Folk High School. The
programme included four groups of issues: 1 – history, literature, language, geography; 2 –
religion, art, culture; 3 – farming, accountancy and bookkeeping, physics, chemistry,
economy 4 – physical education, singing, amateur theatre, excursions.22 Emphasis was also
put on self-education activity of both students and graduates. Ludwiczak, who had visited
Danish schools before, adapted Danish examples to Polish educational needs. The school
accepted students between 18 and 30 years of age. Courses for men were organised in winter
(4 November – 31 March, that is 5 months), in summer – residential courses for women (4
May – 31 August, that is 4 month). Self-government of the students was very important in the
organisation. The school maintained contacts with the school graduates through a Society
“Promień”, which even published a magazine (also called “Promień”). The fee was relatively
high (ca 40 PLN per month, which made it a school for the wealthier residents of rural areas.
There was a system of scholarships for the poorer students. Two other schools run by the
Society of Peasant Libraries: Folk High School in Odolanów (1927-1932) and Folk High
School in Zagórze (1926-1929) were similar to the first one. So the main goal of the Folk
High Schools run by the Society were to educate Polish citizens – Catholics according to the
concepts of national education and to prepare students for future social and educational
activities according to the ideas of the Society, which required, apart from clear identification
of programme objectives, also careful recruitment of the staff that would implement the tasks
and attain the objectives specified by the Society. The teachers had to have specific
pedagogical predispositions and be “earnest Catholics – church goers and patriots”, because
the staff was responsible for providing such education to Polish rural youth to make them
conscious citizens, “carriers of folk cultural assets” and make them live according to the
Catholic religion”.23
        The Folk High School in Szyce near Cracow was established in 1924, at the initiative
of dr. E. Nowicki. Till 1931 it was run by I. Solarz, and operated under the patronage of the
Union of Polish Primary School Teachers. The specific programme and work methods
developed there became the subjects of many studies and analyses over the past few decades.
The school wanted to prepare the young rural generation to be able to use the cultural

   Wiejskie Uniwersytety Ludowe w Polsce. Bulletin of educational conference on Folk High Schools. Łowicz, 7-
9 March 1937. Wydawnictwo Towarzystwa “Przodownik Wiejski”. Warszawa 1938, p. 109.
   S. Mauersberg, Oświata pozaszkolna. [in:] Historia wychowania. Wiek XX..., op. cit., p. 157; K. Kabziński,
Funkcja społeczno-wychowawcza i oświatowa Towarzystwa Czytelni Ludowych (1880-1939). Zakład Narodowy
im. Ossolińskich – Wydawnictwo, Wrocław 1985, p. 156.
   E. Sapia-Drewniak, Działalność Uniwersytetu Ludowego w Odolanowie w latach 1927-1932. [in:]
Instytucjonalne formy..., op. cit., p. 124-128.
achievements of the nation and to “awaken the creative potential” of rural areas. After some
financial and staff problems, the Folk High School resumed its operation in 1932 (since 1934
– under the auspices of the Society of Regional Social and Educational Centres for Young
People from Rural Areas; the School was headed by: Józef Chudy, Rudolf Kotarzycki and Jan
Lipka). The Folk High School in Szyce was attended mainly by young people from small and
medium size farms, so it is not surprising that 30 % of the students had scholarships covering
the fee, bed and board awarded by chambers of agriculture, district authorities and agricultural
organisations. Many students received support to cover some of the costs of their education.
The curriculum in the school year 1936/1937 included the following subjects: contemporary
Poland (3 hours/week), history (4 hours), literature (6 hours), Polish language (2 hours), folk
culture (2 hours), history and sociology of rural areas (2 hours); nature (2 hours), hygiene (2
hours) and practical mathematics (1 hour). Apart from that, every day except Saturdays, there
were meetings during which various topics concerning living in rural areas were discussed:
self-governance, social work, co-operatives, legal issues, agriculture, etc. School life was
based on self-governance of the students, in the broad sense of the term. It seems that the Folk
High School in Szyce has its place in the history of the period between the two World Wars
despite a certain crisis at the beginning of 1930‟s. Solarz himself characterised the school in
the following way: ”although the Peasant Folk High School in Szyce is not based on a Polish
concept, but on the idea of the great Scandinavian educator, Grundtvig, it is so deeply rooted
in the Polish soil that the tree that has grown here, the colour of flowers with which it speaks
to people, the shape of the fruit are an individual response of the content of this soil, the spirit
of Polish rural areas. To help a thinking man to find the goal of his existence, the star of his
life and his own way to that star [...] to help him find himself and use his creative potential –
these are the main ideas of rural Grundtvigian high school, and Szyce school as well”.24
           We are also getting more and more information on the operation and ideas of the Folk
High Schools: in Sokołówek (1927-1935), referring to the great history of the institutions
from the period of 1909-1914 (head: J. Dziubińska) and Nałęczów (1930-1931), closed down
soon after it had been established due to lack of funds (head: I. Kosmowska).25 By the
beginning of 1930‟s, seven Folk High Schools had been established in Poland. Each of those
institutions was of different character and operated in a different environment. The general
goal of all of them, however, seemed to be similar – to include as many young people as
possible into the society, to make them feel conscious citizens of II Republic of Poland.

     [following:] Z. Solarzowa, Mój pamiętnik. Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, Warszawa 1985, p. 249.
     J. Sutyła, op. cit., p 149-150.
           b) The period of 1932-1939
           At that time the operating conditions of Folk High Schools in Poland changed for a
few reasons. On the one hand, certain economic stabilisation of the country made it easier for
various organisations to support Folk High Schools. On the other hand – the qualitative
changes within the folk movement itself became more apparent. The political life in rural
areas became more radical and the tendencies to unite various trends and movements became
stronger. It resulted in the increased number of Polish Folk High Schools at that time, and
more radical programmes of those institutions.
           Twenty new Folk High Schools with quite diversified programmes and ideas were
established in that period. In general, we can distinguish two main directions of “Folk High
School thinking” of that time: Folk High Schools run by various social organisations and
institutions and Catholic Folk High Schools.
The first group includes the following Folk High Schools: in Bryski, Głuchowów, Grzęda,
Małyńsk, Nierodzim, Nietążków, Ohladów, Prudziszcz, Różyna, Sokołówek, Suchodół,
Żernie. They were of different ideological and programme shades, and the ones operating in
the eastern part of the country had multinational students and teachers. The other group of
institutions were schools of Catholic character – run by various entities connected with the
Church. Today we know about the presence of Folk High Schools in the following locations:
Bolszewo, Kopiec, Krzyżanowice, Proboszczewice, Ujezna and Wąchock.26
           Let us look at some of the Folk High Schools of that period.

       The institution in Nierodzim near Skoczów in Beskid Śląski mountains, operating in the
years 1937 and 1939, was a unique experiment of the Polish Folk High School movement. It
was an interesting and successful attempt of combining the educational system of boarding
Folk High School with the scouting method. In October 1933, the Union of Polish Scouts
bought a building in which the School for Scouting Instructors was launched. In 1937, the
school was moved to the nearby village of Górki Wielkie, and the school building became the
home of Scouts‟ Folk High School organised according to the concept of A. Kamiński and J.
Kret, with the latter as the head of the School. The tasks of that School were as follows:
-      “looking for the most appropriate ways of providing effective education to senior staff of
       rural groups”
-      managing the process of “preparing staff for the rural areas”.

     F. Popławski, Polski Uniwersytet Ludowy. Wydawnictwo Spółdzielcze, Warszawa 1985, p.29-31.
The purpose of establishing that Folk High School was to propagate the scouting ideas in the
rural areas in the future. The scouting in Polish rural areas did not have any integrated or mass
character, because “it was still in the experimental stage”. The Folk High School was intended
for future scouting instructors, who in the period October – April would prepare themselves
for the work in the Scout‟s Union, mainly in the rural areas, under the supervision of more
experienced colleagues. The sense of community, ritual and celebrations, ideas linked both
with the Folk High School and scouting traditions27 constituted important elements of the
educational system there.
        The community of Folk High Schools of II Republic of Poland acted for the minorities
living in the eastern parts of the then Polish territory28. The institutions of Krzemieniec
Lyceum from the period of 1932-1939 located in Wołyń, Peasant High School in Grzęda
(Lvov region /1934-1939/), Białystok Rural High School in Żerna (near Wołkowsk /1937-
1939/), Rural Social High School in Prudziszcze (near Vilnius /1935-1939/), Rural High
School in Ohladów (Tarnopol region /1938-1939/)29 “performed integration and national
work".30 Unfortunately, their operation and achievements are not well known and are not
described in Polish historical-pedagogical literature.
        It seems that the Folk High Schools run by Krzemieniec Lyceum, an institution of
great significance and achievements in the area of education in Wołyń, played a very special
role in the co-operation between the nations living in the eastern part of II Republic of Poland.
In subsequent years, it established as many as three boarding adult education institutions of
Folk High School type: in Michałówka (1 December 1932, managed by Helena Jurszowa), in
Różyna (15 February 1935, managed by Kazimierz Banach) and in Małyńsk (1 February
1939, managed by Teofil Fleszar),31 which operated till the outbreak of the Second World
War. The first two schools were established at the initiative Juliusz Poniatowski, later the
minister of agriculture and at that time – the curator of Krzemieniec Lyceum.32 The third

   A. Zawadzka, O Aleksandrze Kaminskim”Kamyku”. Harcerskie Biuro Wydawnicze “Horyzonty”. Warszawa
2001, p. 36-59.
   These needs will become more obvious if we provide the information on the nationalities living in Poland at
the beginning of 1930‟s: out of the population of almost 32 million – 9 875 000 spoke a language other than
Polish, which means that there were ca 10 million of Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews, Lithuanians, Germans and
other nationals living in II Republic of Poland. On the national average, there were 69 Poles per as many as 31 of
persons of other nationalities. In the western regions, non-Polish population was – 9.1 %, in central regions –
17.1 %, in southern regions – 40.8 % and in eastern regions – 67.1%. Data of the National Census as of 1931.
   F. Popławski, Polski Uniwersytet Ludowy. Warszawa 1985, p. 27 and the following
   T. Pilch, Czym jest uniwersytet ludowy. [in:] Z ludźmi ku ludziom. Materials from II Congress of Folk High
School Society. Opalenie 4-6 December 1981. Warszawa 1982, p. 76.
   Moja droga do uniwersytetu ludowego. Wspomnienia wychowawców i wychowanków uniwersytetów
ludowych, ed. S. Dyksińskiego. Warszawa 1967, p. 337-228; F. Popławski, op. cit, p. 29-31.
   S. Dyksiński, Ludzie i uniwersytety ludowe. [in:] Moja droga do uniwersytetu ludowego..., p. 25.
institution was launched based on the experience of the first two. The Wołyń Union of Rural
Youth also had a considerable impact on the operation of the educational institutions
mentioned above.33 As one of the experts on the history of Polish Folk High School
movement says: “Wołyń Folk High Schools – (...) seems to be a unique area of rural youth
education (...). They originated from the same soil – from social needs of the residents of rural
areas, although the differences in educational objectives and work methods [compare to other
Folk High Schools in Poland - note by: T. M.] were quite significant. They did not result,
however, from different ideological and social attitudes, but first of all from the different
conditions in which the institutions operated".34 The objectives of all the three Wołyń Folk
High Schools were almost identical: to educate a „complete‟ man, progressive, of high social
and civic awareness, of independent thinking and prepared to act in rural environment”. Those
institutions also had another parallel task to attain: “to ensure sincere and honest co-existence
of Polish and non-Polish people” by mutual, critical interpretation of common past and
historical present and implementation of the principles of social justice". 35 Those objectives
were to be achieved by cultural and educational activities designed for the purpose “
integration and co-operation of the young generation of Polish and Ukrainian peasants for the
common good".36 These specified objectives resulted from the concern of the educational
activists, who wanted to diminish the strong national differences in Wołyń region by a certain
“cultural offensive” and by creating an atmosphere of mutual respect for the national
differences of the students.
        The Folk High School in Michałówka (Dubna district) had operated for the longest
period of time. Its objective had been formulated in the following way: “educating the youth
for sincere and honest co-existence of Polish and Ukrainian people. Because of those specific
objectives and tasks, and in relation to the specific problems and concerns of Wołyń region,
the School develops its own way by fighting chauvinism, looking for the features common for
the two nations, emphasising the significance of general human values in the life of
individuals and nations".37 The programmes of lectures and classes became an expression of
those aims. The subjects taught included: general history, history of peasants, culture of rural

   S. Mauersberg, Z dziejów oświaty dorosłych. Warszawa 1977, p. 83; One of the authors says that the Folk
High Schools were run jointly by Krzemieniec Lyceum and Wołyń Union of Rural Youth – comp.: F.
Popławski, op. cit., p. 31.
   S. Dyksiński, op. cit., p. 25.
   S. Mauersberg, op. cit., Warszawa 1977, p. 83. Compare also with: Idem, Oświata dorosłych w Drugiej
Rzeczypospolitej. "Oświata Dorosłych" 1978, No 6(195), p. 283.
   H. Jurszowa, Uniwersytet Ludowy w Michałówce. [in:] Wiejskie Uniwersytety Ludowe w Polsce. Bulletin of
the educational conference on Folk High Schools. Łowicz, 7-9 March 1937. Warszawa 1938, p. 115.
areas, co-operative movement, social and economic problems of rural areas, education of man
and citizen, contemporary Poland, Polish literature, Polish language, history of Ukrainian
literature, Ukrainian language, geography, singing, bookkeeping and hygiene (the total of 31
hours per week – courses for men; 24 hours per week – courses for women).38 The above
indicates that the animators of the Wołyń institution took into consideration the programme
content connected with nourishing the Ukrainian specific character and creative co-existence
of the two nations. At the beginning, however, those beautiful ideas did not translate into
everyday practice. During the first months of the operation of the Folk High School in
Michałówka, disputes between the two biggest groups of students: Polish and Ukrainian were
not infrequent. It was a reflection of the Wolyń national disputes. The quarrels sometimes
took the form of destroying Polish books and newspapers by the Ukrainian students and vice
versa. During the first period of the operation of the School, the beginning of almost each
course demonstrated the unfriendly, or even hostile relationships between the students of
different nationalities. But a longer stay in the atmosphere of respect for national differences
and emphasis put on the unique culture of the borderland created and maintained by the staff
reduced the differences and contributed to the quarrels fading away. To serve that purpose the
subjects such as “The history of peasants” and “Social and economic problems of rural areas”
were taught. They pointed out to the common objectives of the peasantry – not only Polish
and Ukrainian peasants but also of all the Slavic nations – which dampened the national
discords and created the sense of common bonds and social interests of the whole Folk High
School family. Thanks to such activities the Folk High School in Michałówek enjoyed
considerable trust of the Ukrainian youth of Wołyń region. The sons and daughters of Polish
peasants living in Krzemieniec region were also willing to join that educational institution.39
Courses for male youth were held in autumn and winter and for female youth – in spring and
summer. The first course for young men in Michałówek was launched in December 1932.
There had been the total of seven such courses before the Second World War broke out. The
courses for girls stared in the late spring of 1934. By the end of August 1939, six cycles of
such courses had been delivered. 210 ten students completed the courses in the Folk High
School in Michałówek in the period for which we have the relevant statistical data (1932-
1937). 58.1 % of the students were Ukrainian and - 40.9 % Polish. From time to time there

  Classes according to the syllabus of the school year 1936/1937. Following: H. Jurszowa, op. cit, p. 117.
  The participants of the classes in the Folk High School in Michałówek were mainly young people coming
from small and medium sized farms (5.8 % - did not own any land, 44.2 % - farms of the size of 2-5 ha, 34.6 % -
5-20 ha, 23,9 % - 20-50 ha). In that year there was also 1 unemployed son of a carpenter and a daughter of the
Orthodox Church priest. 1936/1937). Following: H. Jurszowa, op. cit, p. 116.
were also students of other Slavic nationalities (Czechs and Russians).40 It is highly likely that
the situation in that respect did not change in the last two years of the operation of the School
(2 courses for men and 2 for women), and the number of graduates increased by some 100-
110. It seems, however, that the achievements of that adult education institution and its
pedagogical staff are worth a more detailed presentation because they contributed, to a minor
extent, to bridging the gap between the Polish and Ukrainian residents of that region during
the period of the difficult co-existence of the two nations within one country in the time
between the two world wars.
        On the example of the School in Michałówek we shall also take a closer look at the
functioning of selected components of the life of Folk High Schools in Poland. To start with,
the role of the boarding facilities, where the students lived during the courses can not be
overestimated in the process of building the educational micro-system of the schoo . It was
very clear in the context of the national challenges analyses presented above in the paper. The
self-government of the school, the students‟ co-operative and associations of graduates were
also important elements of educational activity.
        The self-government of the School (Colleagues‟ Club) was composed of both students
and teachers, all of them enjoying equal rights. It was thus the most democratic solution of the
ones adopted in Polish Folk High Schools, even more democratic than the examples set by
Solarz. The meeting of the Colleagues‟ Club decided about all the aspects of internal life of
the School – plans were made and activities initiated, internal rules were set, errors and
deficiencies were corrected and adjusted, the issues arising from living and studying at the
School were discussed. The Club, however, exercised smaller influence on the teaching
programme of the school although it made some decisions on the teaching methods and the
daily schedule. It was only the economic aspect of the school life that was totally outside the
decisions of that body. It was also up to the Club to set up the following sections for particular
courses: press, cultural and educational, gardening, excursion, library and sports. Discussion
meetings belonged to the most important forms of the work of the Club. Various social,
educational, historical, religious, economic and natural science issues were discussed then.
The Club also tried to maintain close contacts with the community in which it functioned. The

  Ibidem, s. 116-118.
  Here are some of the topics discussed at the meetings: “Polish and Ukrainian Population in Wołyń”, “The
Jewish Problem in Poland”, “True Friendship”, “Are Mixed Marriages Good?”, “What Can a Group Achieve?”,
“Farmers Associations and their Significance to the Peasant Movement”, “The Significance of Work in the Life
of an Individual and the Society”, “The State and Self-government”, “What Social System Should a Peasant Aim
at?”, “The Essence of Patriotism”, “Educational Impact on Development of Economy”, and many others.
Following: Ibidem, p. 119.
rule was that once a week there was a meeting devoted to the residents of the neighbouring
villages. The problems and topics that the villagers were interested in were discussed then.
         The students‟ co-operative was another organisational from of self-government. The
co-operative was run by the students themselves, based on the co-operative legislation binding
in II Republic of Poland. It provided the students with an opportunity to get acquainted both
with the idea of co-operatives and practice in collective management – discussed at lectures,
discussion meetings or presented by the visiting lecturers invited by the School. Moreover, the
co-operative provided examples of honesty, hard work for the common good and ability to co-
operate, the rules constituting the basis of the whole idea of a co-operatives.42
         The Folk High School in Michałówek created a strong sense of community and
brotherhood among its Polish and Ukrainian students also through the association of
graduates called “Michałowek Family”. Contacts were maintained by the way of
correspondence, personal visits and annual meetings of the Family.43
         All the components mentioned above contributed to the development of democratic
internal relationships in the School, making it an almost handbook example of a typical
Grundtvigian Folk High School of a profile adjusted to the special character of the target
groups of students. It was generally known in the community of Polish Folk High Schools of
that time that such institutions must be democratic.44

         The existence of one more Folk High School in the period between the two World
Wars should be at least mentioned here, namely the school for German colonists, located in
Donerfeld near Lvov. It was headed by rev. dr. Fritz Seefeld. Although Polish historians
usually do not even mention the existence of that educational institution, it should be noted
that the German Folk High School maintained close contacts with the Polish Folk High
School movement and its director “often used to spend a few weeks in Szyce, taught Danish
gym on courses for men, attended our lectures” exchanging experience with I. Solarz.45
         The last five years of the period between the two World Wars was characterised by
increased interest of Catholic communities in the idea of Folk High Schools. Let us have a
quick look at that important group of Polish Folk High School before the Second World War.
From among the schools of the Society of Folk Libraries, only the Folk High School in Dalki

   Ibidem, p. 116.
   “What totally disqualifies a Folk High School is putting off the idea of democracy till later on and
compromising with it for the sake of temporary comfort of work” says I. Solarz in one of her papers.
turned out to be a more durable initiative.46 But Folk High Schools were also established and
run by diocesan institutes of Catholic Action, Catholic Associations of the Youth and Salesian
Society. Chronologically, the first school was the Catholic Folk High School in Ujezna near
Przeworsk, established by Diocesan Institute of Catholic Action in Przemyśl in the autumn of
1935 . It was to educate rural leaders and “leaders of Catholic Action and Catholic
Associations of the Youth. A typical course lasted three months and had 28 teaching hours per
week (history, with the history of peasantry and folk movement – 5 hours; religion and
apologetics – 4 hours; contemporary Poland – 4 hours; encyclicals – 3 hours; social sciences –
3 hours; economics – 3 hours; literature – 2 hours; mathematics – 2 hours; agriculture– 2
hours). Additionally, each course consisted of three days devoted to co-operatives, another
three days – to prepare for work in Catholic Action and three more days for the retreat at the
end of the course. 47 The Catholic Folk High School in Wąchock near Kielce, operating under
the patronage of Catholic Association of the Youth of Sandomierz area can be another
example here. The school was located in a separate part of the former Cistercian order
building, and the first two month course started on 20 October 1937. The programme covered
the following subjects: religion (3 hours/week.), Polish language and literature (4 hours),
history of Poland (3 hours), history of culture (1 hour), contemporary Poland (2 hours), rural
areas (3 hours), Catholic social sciences (4 hours), practical philosophy (1 hour), co-
operatives (2 hours), organisation of work in Catholic action (4 hours), hygiene (1 hour) and
manners (1 hour.). The courses for men also included farming and beekeeping and the courses
for women – housekeeping (both of them 3 hours per week). The weekly programme was
complemented by singing, theatre and folk and national dances.48 Like in other Folk High
Schools, Catholic institutions considered mutual relations of the students staying on the
school premises and various forms of self-government of the students to be an important
aspect of education. Tis can be illustrated by e.g. the micro-system developed in the Catholic

   Z. Solarzowa, op. cit., s. 221; E.A. Wesołowska, J. Półturzycki, Rozwój i przemiany edukacji dorosłych w
Polsce. “Rocznik Andragogiczny 2000”, Warszawa-Toruń 2001, s. 28.
   Rev. Ludwiczak left the place on 30 March 1938, making J. Paszend the head (since 1 October 1938 – rev. K.
Milik) – B. Dąbrowska, Zapalał światła w mroku, budził życie polskie... Ks. Antoni Ludwiczak (1878-1942).
Księgarnia św. Wojciecha, Poznań 1996, p. 90-91. TCL will try to establish a Folk High School once again in
Bolszewo near Wejherowo in 1938. The war did not let them continue the project. Ludwiczak tried to establish a
Folk High School that would be independent of TCL in Chełmce (Inowrocław poviat), where he became the
parish administrator on 1 July 1938 – Ibidem, s. 91.
   Katolicki Uniwersytet Ludowy w Ujeznej. [in] Wiejskie Uniwersytety..., op. cit., Warszawa 1938, p. 181-182.
   Ks. J. Maruszewski, Katolicki Uniwersytet Ludowy w Wąchocku. [in:] Wiejskie Uniwersytety Ludowe w
Polsce. Bulletin of educational conference of Folk High Schools 1938. Towarzystwo Wiejskich Uniwersytetów
Ludowych, Warszawa 1939, p. 161-162.
Folk High School in Proboszczewice, where all the members of the course community had a
self-government called the Commune, headed by the Mayor elected by the students.49
        After 1945, the opinions on the achievements of Catholic Folk High Schools varied.
Most of them depreciated the work of that part of Polish Folk High School movement. The
researchers pointed out to its conservative, confession character and “blind subordination” to
the Church Hierarchy. They were compared to the other Folk High Schools. The researchers
emphasised that they were established as a response to the increasing number of lay Folk
High Schools, were radical in nature, especially after 1932 , and were to stop the decline of
the influence of the Church in rural communities.50 Well, the vision of Folk High School s
with Catholic roots did not fit into the post-war reality of Poland. The opinion of J. Zawiejski
is a typical example of the “new” way of thinking. In 1958 he wrote: “There were also
Catholic Folk High Schools, which did not implement any of the ideas of Grundtvig or
Solarz, and which were schools of housekeeping, rural bookkeeping and teaching religion.
The name did not have anything in common with the content, was confusing and led to
misunderstandings”.51 It seems that we are still waiting for the history of that part of the Folk
High School movement to be read anew, without the valuations so characteristic for times of
the People‟s Republic of Poland.
        The Folk High School named after Władysław Orkan was established in Gać
Przeworska in 1932. I. There, Solarz continued the educational work he started in Szyce. It
was the start of the most successful period of Folk High School movement between the two
World Wars. The establishment of the Folk High School in Gać headed by Solarz was mainly
the initiative of the graduates of the Folk High School in Szyce – members of the Gać branch
of the Union of Rural Youth “Wici”. The school was run by a co-operative established
especially for that purpose, and providing legal and material support to the new educational
institution. The meeting room and lecture hall were located in a new folk house donated to the
school by the Union of Rural Youth “Wici” for that purpose. The residents of the area hosted
the students and Irena and Ignacy Solarz. In this way Orkan Folk High School became part of
almost the whole village. “The students live in the peasants‟ houses, small ones, often without
proper floors. The lectures are delivered in the hall of the folk house, where there is not
enough wood, where there is not enough oil, so the lamp there hardly gives any light. But the

   J. Matczyński, Katolicki Uniwersytet Ludowy w Proboszczewicach. [in:] Wiejskie Uniwersytety..., Warszawa
1939, p. 181-185.
   „The location of Catholic Folk High Schools was to pacify revolutionary tendencies in those areas...” –
opinion of J. Sutyła, op. cit.,p. 154.
   J. Zawiejski, Droga Katechumena.”„Znak” 1958, No 1, p. 18.
students do not even notice it, they all focus on the lecturer, who for them is the source of
revelations, providing light for the rest of their lives.”52 It was not until 1936 that the situation
of the school changed when a new school building in Gacka Górka, designed by Jan
Witkiewicz, was completed. The construction of the building – financed from voluntary
donations and with considerable work contribution by the residents of the village - still today
remains one of the most important examples of gratuitous work for the common good in the
history of social activity in Polish rural areas. The personality of the school director, I. Solarz,
who was a great authority for the students, played an important role in the process. And the
programme of the school gradually became more and more radical, which was the influence
of the students of subsequent courses, often members of the more and more radical Union of
Rural Youth “Wici”, and the teachers, such as e.g. Stefan Ignar (in the period of 1933-1935)
or Wojciech Skuza (in the period of1935-1939). They coined the ideological and political
character and climate of the Folk High School. Władysław Fołta saw it in the following way:
“The courses were attended by young people of developed social ideas, often of clearly leftist
political orientation. I remember the courses of 1935-1937, and even those in 1938 as
representing one political front. There were communists among the students as well [...].
Gacka Górka was on the left side of social and political scene”. Because of this the state
authorities, the Church and social organisations and institutions of different political
orientation attacked Solarz‟s institution. The community of the Orkan Folk High School
perceived the situation in the following way: “At that time Gacka Górka was an important
centre of anti-fascist front. It was there [...] where people could discuss things, and it meant a
lot at those gloomy times. [...] And the fact that both priests and the reactive movements saw a
“hatchery” of bolshevism in Gacka Górka did not mean that the young people there were
educated in the spirit of communism. At that time, the rightists called bolshevics all the
people who represented progress”.53
        Today the opinions of historians on Ignacy Solarz‟s Folk High School as a leading
adult education initiative of the period between the two World wars are very similar and
positive. The researchers point out to the significant impact of that FHS on the Folk High
School movement at that time and its clear and important inspirations for the subsequent,
post-war generations of practitioners of Polish Folk High School movement. The opinion of
S. Mauersberg seems to be representative for this way of thinking: “Ignacy Solarz created an

  J. Wiktor, Błogosławiony chleb ziemi czarnej. Lwów 1938, p. 314.
  W. Fołta, Wspomnienia z walk młodzieży chłopskiej. Wydawnictwo “Iskry”, Warszawa 1956, p. 11 and 241-
unprecedented in Poland example of a Folk High School as an institution connected with the
social and liberation movement of peasants, reinforcing the role of the rural population in the
life of the state and the nation. The educational achievements of Solarz‟s school also
compensated the negative educational influence of the official policy on peasants”. 54 Some of
the researchers, however, are of the opinion that “Solarz represented a radical folk movement
and taught such values in his school”55. Today this can change the interpretation of his
activity and lead to certain re-evaluation of the typical for the Folk High School community
assessment of this distinguished educator if we still wanted to (and we do!) refer to the Szyce-
Gać examples.56
        Today we are far from the disputes and dilemmas of Solarz‟s time. What we do
remember is what is most valuable in Solarz‟s writing and the activities of Gać Przeworsk
Folk High School: the idea of self-governance and co-operatives, man in the centre of all
educational activities, emancipation of rural population, etc.57
        The history of the Folk High School movement in Poland in the period between the
two World Wars has received the most comprehensive coverage in this paper. The ideological
and programme pluralism so characteristic for the Folk High School movement in our country
at that time, gave rise to many initiatives, which can be an inspiration in our attempt to
identify the future of Folk High Schools. Regardless of our opinions on concrete initiatives of
that time, we must admit that the idea of counteracting social exclusion – so dear to the
partners of the project “school for life” – was at that time implemented in tens, hundreds
educational activities taken up by all Polish Folk High Schools of that time.
        To complete the analysis of the period between the two world wars it is worthwhile to
present one more thought, which have become relevant and of significance in the latest
decade of Folk High Schools development. The thought is important and its author -
        “The name <Folk High School> has become very popular in the recent years, even too
popular as the title of various types of courses. It must be, on the one hand, the influence of

   S. Mauersberg, Oświata pozaszkolna. [in:] op. cit., Warszawa 1980, p. 166.
   E. A. Wesołowska, J. Półturzycki, op. cit., p. 28
   T. Maliszewski, Współczesny ruch uniwersytetów ludowych a regionalizm. “Rocznik Andragogiczny 2000”,
Warszawa-Toruń 2001, s. 170-180. Comp. opinion of B. Gołębiowski – idem, Rocznik Andragogiczny i
uniwersytety ludowe. Satysfakcje i polemiki. “Edukacja Dorosłych” 2001, No 3(32), p. 171-175.
   Comp. also e.g.: L. Turos, Uniwersytet Ludowy Ignacego Solarza i jego wychowankowie. Ludowa
Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, Warszawa 1970; idem, Patrzeć szeroko i daleko... Dziedzictwo pedagogiczne
Ignacego Solarza. Wydawnictwo Spółdzielcze, Warszawa 1983; Ignacy Solarz i jego uniwersytet Ludowy
(1924-1939), ed. S. Dyksiński, F. Popławski. Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, Warszawa 1965; Ignacy Solarz
i jego dzieło. Wnioski dla współczesności, pod red. S. Gawora. Fundacja Artystyczna ZMW, Kraków 1992.
the information about the significance of Grundtvigian Folk High Schools in Denmark, or
even in Poland, and on the other hand – the title is tempting, like various types of
<academies>, celebrations and <conferences>. There is a certain fashion for rural high
schools. There are reports about hundreds of them in Poland, hundreds of entities which tried
to function under the name of folk, rural, Sunday, evening, winter, agricultural, etc. high
schools, but there is not much difference, except the name, between them and traditional
popular courses, which teach, provide with general, professional, instructor or <natural
science> information. The name itself does not make the miracle happen, it is often simply
confusing. Any rural high school that is not a Grundtvigian type of establishment is not a rural
or folk high school. That is what the Danes say. We should clarify the situation in this respect
in Poland as well”.58 Having taken into consideration certain social transformations that have
taken place since Solarz‟s time, it seems that we still need such clarification in today‟s
Poland.59 That postulate can also, in a sense, set the framework of the research under the
project “Folk High School – School for Life”, which is to result in these printed materials.

        Period IV: Second World War
        The Second World War interrupted the operation of Folk High Schools in Poland. In
many cases it also led to extermination of the staff working in the pre-war institutions. Two
distinguished figures of the pre-war Folk High School movement died in Nazi prisons - rev.
Antoni Ludwiczak (1878-1942) and Ignacy Solarz (1891-1940). Now we know at least a few
episodes from the period of 1939-1944 connected with the operation of underground Folk
High Schools. And here are some of them.
        The Underground Folk High School was established in the village of Jeziorki
(Jędrzejów District) in 1942. It was created by Władysław and Helena Babinicz. The school
operated for two years, delivered three courses competed by ca ninety students, most of whom
– inspired intellectually by the School – completed academic studies after the war. The classes
were held in the house of Wincenty Turek, and the performances and shows, attended by the
local community and the soldiers of Bataliony Chłopskie underground troops – in the farm of
Józef Żołna. The fact that “the whole village was taking care of its Folk High School, keeping

  I. Solarz, Wiejski Uniwersytet Orkanowy. Warszawa 1937, p. 9-10.
  That postulate was presented, inter alia, as one of the conclusions of the International Conference “Polish Folk
High Schools – Decline of the Idea or a New Challenge?” organised in Kashubian Folk High School in the
autumn of 1997. Comp. e.g.: H. Solarczyk, Kilka postulatów na kanwie starbienińskich obrad. Rocznik
Andragogiczny 1999”, Warszawa-Toruń 2000, p. 205.
the fact of its existence confidential and making in-kind contributions to its operation”
indicates how important the initiative was.
        During the Second World War many non-school underground educational initiatives
were taken up in the area of Pomorze Nadwiślańskie. The estimates of the co-organiser of the
schools - Narcyz Kozłowski – say that there were ca 15 such initiatives in the rural and urban
communities, known as Underground Folk High Schools “Młody Las” [“Young Forest”].
Their operation was based on the programmes of Związek Młodzieży Wiejskiej “Wici”
[Union of Rural Youth “Wici”], adapted to war conditions, using mainly the pre-war materials
of Wolna Wszechnica Polska [Free Polish University]. The whole educational campaign was
managed by Tajny Związek Młodzieży Wiejskiej “Młody Las” [Underground Union of Rural
Youth “Young Forest”] – first from Rojewo near Rypin, and starting 1941 – from Malbork.
The main ideas and objectives of the movement included the following:
-    awakening the national spirit and belief in regaining independence;
-    counteracting germinasation;
-    nourishing of national traditions and culture.
     The Catholic Folk High Schools established in the Sandomierz diocesan operated under
the patronage of rev. professor Konstanty Michałowski (1879-1947), philosopher, rector of
the Jagiellonian University. The sources emphasise his war time achievements. He had spent
“almost the whole of the war period” (1940-1944) in Sichów near Staszów, where he
preached, did research work and taught on underground courses”. 60 So the references to the
traditions of the war period are very clear and obvious.
     In one of his papers, F. Popławski mentions other types of efforts in developing Polish
Folk High School movements during the war. He describes the preparation of the Adult
Education Department of the Polish underground educational authorities, which he personally
headed, to restore and develop Folk High Schools in Poland after the war. The preparations
were of manifold character. On the one hand, there were discussions on the position of Folk
High Schools in the political and social situation of post-war Poland. The debates indicated
that “according to the Danish tradition and the attitudes developed in Poland in the period
between the two World Wars, Folk High Schools could not be run directly by the state
educational authorities. Any private initiatives, like the ones in Denmark, could not be taken
into consideration, either. Continuation of the pre-war tradition and entrusting the
management and development of Folk High Schools to social bodies [organisations] seemed

  Ludowe Uniwersytety Katolickie w Diecezji Sandomierskiej w latach 1995-1999. http://akcja-, z dn. 18-10-2002, s. 1
to be the only acceptable solution”. The result of the long-lasting discussion was a consensus
that Folk High Schools in post-war Poland would be run by a social organisation – Society of
Folk High Schools of the Republic of Poland. Simultaneously, attempts were made at
recruiting the staff of future Folk High Schools and preparing them for the special education
work. The classes took the form of a three week long stationary courses and self-education
clubs. The courses and self-education work was done mainly in Warsaw between the autumn
of 1942 and August of 1944. In total, 100 candidates for Folk High School teachers
participated in nine educational cycles (8 – in Warsaw, 1 – in Korniakowo near Przeworsk).
The programme of a typical course included seven subject blocks:
       1. “The history of Folk High Schools, their role and tasks in Poland after the war ;
       2. Polish language and literature in Folk High School;
       3. History of Poland and the most important facts and events in the history of the world;
       4. Basics of natural sciences;
       5. Rural communities in the past and today, that is basic knowledge on the history of
           rural areas and their achievements in terms of culture, folk movements, rural youth
           movements, rural economy and rural co-operative movement;
       6. Speeches made by the students and discussions in Folk High School;
       7. Art classes in Folk High School”.61
           The initiatives mentioned above, indicate that the objectives of underground
educational activities based on Folk High School ideas included willingness to prepare the
students for creative work for the restoration and development of free Poland and creating the
foundations for the development of Folk High School movement in independent Poland after
the war.
           Period V: 1945-1989
           This period of Polish Folk High Schools history is very hard to encapsulate in a
comprehensive scientific reflection. It seems that problems relating to this project require
further research, which will probably mean extensive studies of source materials that will
reveal the entire complexity of social and political conditions in which Polish Folk High
Schools functioned in the period between the end of the Second World War and the decline of
the People‟s Republic of Poland. Tracking the development of the ideas will not be a simple
matter either as indicated by a sketchy analysis of the monthly magazine “Oświata
Dorosłych” [Adult Education] (1957-1990) which shows the great complexity of the situation

     F. Popławski, Polski uniwersytet ludowy. Wydawnictwo Spółdzielcze, Warszawa 1985, p. 34-38.
of both the entire movement and individual schools as well as the multiple tasks assigned to
Folk High Schools and the various theoretical concepts of their role in society. A few sub-
periods with own characteristics can be distinguished within the four decades of that period.
The period of 1945-1948 is surely different from that of 1948 - 1956 and that of 1982-1989.
Without careful and time consuming studies one can only be tempted to provide a handful of
reflections. The first obvious one is that despite unfavourable conditions for development of
independent educational initiatives for almost the entire period, Folk High Schools were able
to survive, and did not disappear from the social space of our country. They continued to
function, though with changing intensity, in various numbers and under different patronage. It
can also be proved that they were involved in “including the excluded” all the time, although
often these activities were not emphasised in the ideological assumptions of individual
schools due to the existing political conditions. Irrespective of the location or time, whether it
was the Folk High School in Błotnica Strzelecka in 1940‟s which provided opportunities for a
general education to residents of Śląsk Opolski region who at the time could not attend Polish
schools , or whether it was Babinicz‟s Folk High School in Rożnica, in 1960‟s or Kashubian
Folk High School of 1980-„s, – we will find clear indications in the programmes and ideas
that shaped each of those school of their great efforts to counteract social exclusion (although
each school was of different character and had different impact area ).

       a) 1945-1948
       The new Polish reality after the Second World War made adult education tackle
important social tasks, such as:
-   showing “people‟s masses the high value of national culture” and democratisation of
    access to cultural assets “by the way of promulgating them among the widest possible
-   “necessity of moral revival” and restoring the feeling of “human dignity destroyed by war
    and occupation”;
-   implementing re-polonisation educational and cultural tasks “among Polish population
    germanised over the centuries”;
-   providing adults with opportunities to get education at different levels, including making
    up for educational deficiencies caused by ”depriving the youth of access to schools of
    secondary and higher level”
-      coping with illiteracy that was “the relic of the past” which barred “ a considerable part of
       the population from involvement in conscious civic life” and “hindered performance of
       professional duties”;
-      convincing the youth and adult members of the society about “the purposefulness and
       adequacy of ideological and economic transformations that were taking place”, and about
       the resultant social and economic changes.62
       The educational activities of the first post war years developed spontaneously and
vigorously and were based on voluntary work of many entities: social organisations,
institutions, the Church and individuals. Various forms of work and educational programmes
for adults responded to the above mentioned challenges, and often referred to the examples set
in the period between the two World Wars.63 The educational institutions launched at that
time included a few tens of Folk High Schools.
       Due to the political changes in Poland some of the places that hosted Folk High Schools
before the Second World War were incorporated into the territory of the Soviet Union.
Numerous new institutions were also established in the Reclaimed Territories that used to
belong to III Reich before 1 September 1939. Only 5 Folk High Schools out of 20 functioning
before the War resumed their operation. The others were built form scratch, and their number
grew quickly (see the Table). The first Folk High Schools were established as early as in
March 1945: Rural Folk High School named after Maciej Rataj in Rachań (Tomaszów
Lubelski District, 1 March 1945, headed by Stanisław Lejwoda), Folk High School named
after Armia Ludowa in Chroberz (Pińczów District, 15 March 1945, headed by Józef Nowak,
Józef Kostecki) and Folk High School in Pawłowice (Jędrzejów District, 20 March 1945,
headed by Waldemar Babinicz). Two others - Folk High School in Suchodąb (Kutno District,
25 May 1945, headed by Irena Ciemniewska) and Folk High School in Trojanowo (Garwolin
District, 18 June 1945, headed by Józef Ciota, Michał Kozioł) adopted the name of Ignacy
Solarz; like the one reopened a year later - Folk High School in Gać (Przeworsk District, 24
April 1946 r., headed by Bolesław Dejworek), clearly indicating that many Folk High School
activists and communities wanted to refer to the work of that distinguished educator. Some
Folk High Schools had hardly managed to start their educational work when they were closed
down – for example the Folk High School in Sieborowice (Miechów District, 10 November
1945 – 9 June 1946, headed by Wacław Kurbiel) was closed down because another institution
was launched nearby (FHS in Raciechowice, Miechów District, the spring of 1946, headed by

     S. Mauersberg, Rozwój oświaty w Polsce Ludowej. [in:] op. cit., Warszawa 1980, p. 327-328.
     Ibidem, p. 332.
Józef Ptaszkowski) or Folk High School in Wola Ossowińska, whose operations was
suspended due to an attack (Łuków District, 1 October – 10 December 1945, headed by
Wacław Tuwalski). Sometimes schools were moved form one place to another “with all the
equipment and the accommodation facilities”. This happened to Rural Folk High School in
Krasne (Ełk District, 2 October 1945 headed by Wacław Wojdełko), which was moved from
Dobryniówka to Stare Juchy (Ełk District, 1947-1951, headed by Jan Kawecki).64 The Folk
High School in Błotnica Strzelecka in Śląsk Opolski region operated for the longest period of
time – till mid 1990‟s .65 The list prepared by Feliks Popławski includes as many as 79 Folk
High Schools operating in 1948. Other sources say that there were even more.66
        Polish Folk High Schools in 1945-1948
                 YEAR            SCHOOLS                              NUMBER
                                 Functioning         Under            courses             students

                 1945            28                  39               28                  786
                 1946            67                  11               71                  1493
                 1947            78                  13               89                  2428
                 1948            79                  23               81                  1629
                 Total:                                               269                 6336
        Source: F. Popławski, Polski Uniwersytet Ludowy. Wydawnictwo Spółdzielcze, Warszawa 1985, p. 39

     It should be noted that the Folk High School movement, vigorously developing after the
Second World War, featured only one Catholic school adhering to that noteworthy trend in
the Polish FHS movement. It was Folk High School in Orzechowo Morskie near Wytowno

   J. Popławski, op. cit., p. 137-142; S. Dyksiński, op. cit., p.337-342; K. Nazarowska, M. Szajko, Historia
oświaty w gminie Stare Juchy. of 4 March 2002, p. 2
    Based on the history of this FHS, one can track all the organisational changes that Folk High School
movement experienced in subsequent decades. The school was launched on 21 January 1946 as Rural Folk High
School named after rev. Józef Wajda. By 1946, it was forbidden to use the name of the great priest and patriot .
The school continued to function under the patronage of Związek “Samopomoc Chłopska” [Peasant Mutual
Assistance Union] , Związek Młodzieży Wiejskiej [Union of Rural Youth], Związek Socjalistycznej Młodzieży
Polskiej [Union of Polish Socialist Youth], Stowarzyszenie “Polskie Uniwersytety Ludowe” [Association
“Polish Folk High Schools”] and its operation was suspended when its was taken over by the local authorities in
1990‟s. Now, after a few years‟ break, it is planned that the school will be reopened as Salesian Folk High
School in Błotnica Strzelecka (documentation: archives of the former FHS in Błotnica Strzelecka and
information provided by Józef Kowalczyk – ex-director of FHS; the materials are held by the author).
   In 1948-1950 there was a Folk High School named after Józef Wybicki in Będomin, which the author did not
mention. It was established by Kościerzyna starost Aleksander Arendt. “They organised six month courses there,
and on completion of such courses, the students became certified farmers and farming instructors. Many classes
were devoted to Kashubian culture, history of Kościerzyna District and the history of Kashubian people – T.
Bolduan, Kaszubskie uniwersytety ludowe. [in:] idem, Nowy Bedeker Kaszubski. Publishing House “Oskar”,
Gdańsk 1997, p.157.
(Słupsk District). That is how rev. Jan Zieja, its initiator, remembers it: “I had been thinking
about establishing a Folk High School based on “Wici” example for a long time I wanted it to
be linked with the parish, so that the young people leaving the school used the Church
experience as much as they could [...]. At the beginning of October [1945 – T.M.] I went to
the seaside, because my parish covered also some parts of the coast. From the lady widowed
by an Evangelical pastor, who was captured, tortured and killed by the Russians, I found out
that her husband had built a special house for young people, to serve as a recreational and
meeting centre. She said: <Please do something about it>. So we went there – a nice big
building, and another one for ancillary purposes, beautifully located, in the forest and right by
the sea . Beautiful thing! The widow gave us the place. The School took its name from the
place - Orzechowo. (Ms Krystyna Żelechowska prepared everything and took care of the
maintenance of the place).” The School was launched with its first course staring on 1
February 1946. The educational system of Orzechowo FHS can be inferred from what rev.
Zieja says: “On the library shelves, there were Lenin‟s books, more than twenty volumes, as
well as writings of Polish thinkers, and the Bible. The young people could, just like in “Wici”,
choose their political and social positions independently, as they wished. They did not have to
attend Sunday services in the church although all the lectures were delivered in the parish
     It was also the start of the Polish Folk High School movement consolidation process,
which culminated in establishing the Society of Folk High Schools of the Republic of Poland
in the summer of 1945.68 The General Congress of the Society specified the ideological
foundations and educational programme of Folk High Schools, clearly pointing out to three
elements – Christian, national and folk. The Congress also adopted the Statute of the Society
of Folk High Schools of the Republic of Poland and elected its authorities. 69 It also reached a
consensus on the objectives of FHSs: they were to educate “socially-minded and creative
people of high moral standards and human dignity”, to combine “social and moral values of

   Ks. Jan Zieja – życie Ewangelią. Written by Jacek Moskwa. Éditions du Dialogue, Paris 1991, p. 177-180.
   Similar attempts before the Second World War were bound to be failures due to too big ideological and
programme differences of the schools functioning at that time – although such initiatives were taken up also in
1930‟s. Comp. e.g. Pierwsze narady pracowników polskich uniwersytetów ludowych. “Polska Oświata
Pozaszkolna” 1930, No 6; J. Baranowska, Uniwersytet internatowy chłopski – na marginesie konferencji w
Łowiczu, 7-9 marca 1937. “Praca Oświatowa” 1937, No 6; Z ruchu oświatowo-organizacyjnego (sprawozdanie
z konferencji w Krzemieńcu).”Wieś i Państwo” 1938, No IX.
   Feliks Popławski became the president of the Society and - Józef Niećko – the president of the Educational
Council. The Society had its quarterly publication “Siewba”. Comp. F. Popławski, Skąd i dokąd idziemy.
Towarzystwo Uniwersytetów Ludowych R.P. “Siewba” 1947, No 1-2, p. 3-22; Uniwersytety ludowe w Polsce.
Sprawozdanie z pierwszego walnego zgromadzenia członków T.U.L.R.P. w Pabianicach 11, 12 i 13 października
1945 roku. Towarzystwo Uniwersytetów Ludowych RP, Warszawa 1946.
personal family and community life, co-existence on a national scale and that of mankind in
general”, to identify and develop “all valuable assets of peasant culture that could transform
and enrich national culture in order to maintain and develop the creative potential of the
Polish Nation”. It was decided to solve the problem of insufficient number of teachers for the
developing Folk High School movement was by preparing a comprehensive, and for obvious
reasons – very intensive – teaching training programme for FHS teachers. By the end of 1947,
as many as almost 80 persons had completed such one hundred day long courses.70
       Now it seems that the decisions taken at the Congress of the Society of Folk High Schools
of the Republic of Poland held in the autumn of 1945, and the post Congress activities were a
significant compromise between the ideas and political positions of its participants –
especially if we consider it in the context of different trends and pluralism of the Folk High
School movement before the Second World War.
           The country, however, was undergoing significant changes aimed at enforcement of
post Yalta order and communist regime. FHS activists did their best to preserve the
independence of the Society and its member schools. Some traces of those discussions can be
found in what rev. Zieja remembers, for example, about one of the meetings of the movement
members: “In 1947, Mr Sokorski from the Ministry of Education in Warsaw convened a
convention of the representatives of Folk High Schools from all over Poland. I do not
remember exactly where it was held, probably in Otwock near Warsaw [...]. So I attended the
congress at which Sokorski praised the Soviets in his speech. He was saying that the world
was being re-established by the Soviets whom we were now following, that a new order was
being born. The teachers who had come from all over Poland – a few tens of people, mostly
directors [of Folk High Schools] – were subdued [...]. At the end of the three day meeting,
Sokorski presented a resolution that he wanted us to adopt, a resolution saying that we would
join the process of educating the youth in the spirit of socialism. I protested: we were brought
up by “Wici” in the spirit of independent thinking, peasant independent farm management, we
did not even think about socialist ideals. Voting – all the teachers followed me, we did not
want to sign the resolution. Sokorski got very angry: that a priest had ruined the whole
meeting, and my colleague teachers and directors thanked me for preserving the honour of
Folk High Schools”.71 There must have been a crisis in the development of the movement,
which in Poland was clearly linked with rural communities. Folk High Schools “were
criticised by both sides that is by the radical Folk High School movement and by Marxist

     F. Popławski, op. cit., Warszawa 1985, p. 39
     Ks. Jan Zieja..., op. cit., p. 179-180.
circles. FHSs were accused of “missing the point of the new system, negating the new social
reality and the alliance of workers and peasants, of cultivating the old, outdated educational
objectives and excuse for old-fashioned rural areas” and “approval of ideology of
        Unfortunately, FHS operation was conditioned by the new political situation in post-
war Poland. “The new system, based on alliance of workers and peasants, with the leadership
taken over by the workers, required re-evaluation of a number of notions”, including the ones
concerning independent education – not only in rural areas. FHS movement itself – through
its ideological and organisational links – was also particularly and increasingly involved in the
internal situation of its patron – the Union of Rural Youth “Wici”, which in turn, was
involved in fierce disputes and discussions about the future of Polish rural areas. “The three
year disputes mean nothing else but the departure from the old model of the movement. The
discussion on agrarianism at the ideological conference in Dębowa Góra in 1948, placed the
term peasant among historical categories and favoured that of a farmer. It was already at that
time that “Wici” activists wanted farming to be a profession”.72 The liquidation of individual
Folk High Schools as “a relic of the past, not useful in the new social and economic
situation”73 began, whereas the Society itself - consolidated for a short time with the Society
of Workers‟ High Schools into a uniform Society of Workers‟ and Folk High Schools as a
part of the centralisation process of all institutional forms of social life – was ultimately
liquidated at the beginning of the next decade.74
        The assessment of the achievements of Polish Folk High Schools of the second half of
1940‟s should emphasise the fact that probably never before (and never after, for that matter)
had they enjoyed such a position in our country. Unfortunately, due to the political situation
they were not able to maintain the position in the years to come.
        b) 1949-1956
        The period starting 1956 is the hardest time in the history of Polish Folk High Schools.
The institutions existing at the beginning of 1949 were made subordinate to Związek
Samopomocy Chłopskiej [Union of Peasant Self-Assistance]. The role of Folk High Schools

   S. Jarecka-Kimlowska, Związek Młodzieży Wiejskiej “ Wici”. Walka o oblicze ideowe i nowy model
organizacyjny 1944-1948. Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa 1972, p. 251-254;
   S. Mauersberg, op. cit., Warszawa 1980, p. 330, 335 and 374. See also: J. A. Król, Co się dzieje w
Uniwersytetach Ludowych. “Wieś” 1946, No 13; idem, Drogowskazy na manowcach kultury ludowej. Warszawa
1947; L. Stasiak, Agrarystom pod rozwagę.”Młoda Myśl Ludowa” 1947, No 8-9; S. Żółkiewski, Czym są a czym
być powinny uniwersytety ludowe. “Nowe Drogi” 1947, No 5
   F. Popławski, Towarzystwo Uniwersytetów Ludowych Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (TUL RP). [in] Encyklopedia
oświaty..., op. cit., p.347-348; S. Mauersberg, Towarzystwo Uniwersytetu Robotniczego i Ludowego (TURiL).
[in:] Ibidem, p. 353.
in educating rural youth also changed significantly. The Ministry of Education introduced a
uniform Folk High School programme with, inter alia, obligatory examinations and
certificates.75 It also seems that Związek Młodzieży Polskiej [Union of Polish Youth]
(composed of, inter alia, Union of Rural Youth “Wici”), established as a result of the general
unification of youth movements, was not very much interested in the problems of rural youth,
and its modest proposals for young people living outside big cities reflected different, often
contradictory concepts and lack of a comprehensive approach. There was no understanding
among the authorities of the Union for Folk High Schools because the ideological direction of
the organisation was too dogmatically connected with the then binding political direction of
Polish United Workers‟ Party.76 There was nobody there to “defend the idea of FHS” and in
1956 only three schools were left: in Błotnica Strzelecka in Śląsk Opolski region, in Jasień in
Złotów area and in Mikołajki in Mazury district. The other, more than ten, Folk High Schools
ceased to exist.
        The analysis of the Folk High Schools of the first half of 1950‟s should also point out
to one more fact, namely that some of the most distinguished teachers of the liquidated
schools tried to transfer the methods used in Folk High Schools to institutions of formal
education in which they found employment, thus, in a way hibernating the idea itself and
waiting for the better times to come. Apparent examples of the above can be found in writings
about Waldemar Babinicz, Narcyz Kozłowski, Józef Kret, or memoirs of Zofia Solarzowa.
        c) 1957-1980
        October 1956 opened the way towards seeking more efficient forms of adult
education. The concept of a centralised, uniform system functioning since the end of 1940‟s
was negated. The search for a new formula partially focused on a return to the concept of
adult education based on active involvement of various regional communities and social
initiatives. A clear developing trend was observed also in the area of informal adult education.
Popular High Schools, self-education clubs, regional societies, amateur music groups and
Folk High Schools were started up again. However, the attempts to revive the Folk High
School movement based on traditional educational assumptions were not very successful.
There were different, often contradictory, ideas about the future of the revived Polish Folk
High Schools, but most support was given to “the concept of residential schools, educating
rural, social, educational and cultural activists, who were to inspire progress and

  Ordinance of the Minister of Education No V-Un-378/49 of 14.05.1949. Comp.: S. Dyksiński, op. cit., p. 72.
  Ruch młodzieżowy w Polsce w latach przemian politycznych 1956-1957, ed. Z. J. Hirsz, E. Tomaszewski. ZG
ZSMP, Warszawa 1984, passim.
transformations in rural areas” and “in practice, Folk High Schools became institutions
providing education to members of the Union of Polish Youth”.77 It is a very unflattering
opinion because it was the liquidation of the Union of Polish Youth and establishment of the
Union of Rural Youth that gave rise to the hopes for restoration of Folk High School
movement in Poland at the end of 1950‟s. At least some of the activists tried to highlight FHS
ideas and traditions in the formula, which was adapted to the social and political reality of that
time.78 Unfortunately, “Folk High Schools became an insignificant part of the day-to-day
operation of the Union” By 1960, only three schools had been restored (Wiekszyce, Rożnica,
Wierzchosławice, and four new ones established (Iłowa Żagańska /Klenica/, Rudzieniec
Gliwicki, Mosty and Wzdów).79
        The decision of the Political Bureau of Central Committee of Polish United Workers‟
Party on transferring all FHSs to the Union of Rural Youth starting the summer of 1958, was
of key significance to the organisation of Folk High Schools. That decision, as W. Winkiel
notes, “was an approval for such a model of educational activities”.80 Since then, up till the
end of 1980‟s, Folk High Schools were subordinated to youth organisations and their
organisational programmes were closely related to the way cultural and educational
movements in rural areas were perceived by the youth movement.
        During the period of 1962-1964, when the Union of Rural Youth initiated centres of
culture in rural areas, it was decided that education of staff for those centres would be
entrusted to Folk High Schools. In 1970‟s, this FHS educational offer included training for
employees of commune culture centres and community clubs. Other FHS tasks included:
education of youth activists of national councils [kind of municipality councils], activists of
agricultural organisations or organisers of kindergartens in rural areas.81
        In the second half of 1970‟s – now under the patronage of the Union of Polish
Socialist Youth – there were nine Folk High Schools in Poland (the ones in Rudzienice and
Mosty were liquidated in the meantime, and one was launched in Gardzienice already in
1964). So it was not a mass movement, and the almost unchanged number of Folk High

   S. Mauersberg, op. cit., Warszawa 1980, p. 382-383.
   Uniwersytety Ludowe. Materials from Plenary Session of Folk High School Council, 20-21 April 1959. Iskry,
Warszawa 1960, passim.
   S. Dyksiński, op. cit., p. 77-78.
   W. Winkiel, Uniwersytety ludowe w systemie oświaty i wychowania. [in:] Uniwersytety ludowe w Polsce i za
granicą, ed. A. Bron-Wojciechowska, Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, Warszawa 1977, p. 33; Letter of the
Secretariat of Polish United Workers‟ Party of – l – 650/58 [following:] S. Dyksiński, op. cit., p.
   M. Lasa, Kierunki i formy pracy wychowawczej uniwersytetów ludowych Związku Socjalistycznej Młodzieży
Polskiej. [w:] Uniwersytety ludowe..., op. cit., Warszawa 1977, p. 71.
Schools since 1950‟s is indicative of the fact that they were rather neglected by their patron
organisations, despite great involvement of their animators and teachers, and despite the
benefits to rural communities. Discussions were held about the form and tasks of Folk High
Schools as “socialist Folk High School”82 during the whole period. Some theoretical works
had the character of insightful studies on the conditions and perspectives of the Polish Folk
High School movement. And so in 1977, T. Pilch wrote: “the concept of Folk High Schools
as institutions preparing rural youth to social life, to active participation in culture, to
promulgate progressive economic ideas is still in force. Rural communities still need the
people educated in that way, because there are definitely too few enlightened reformers,
propagators and organisers of educational life to meet the needs of rural areas today”.83
        One more independent initiative of establishing a Folk High School in mid 1970‟s
needs to be mentioned here, namely that of the Folk High School in Zbrosza Duża (est. 1978).
It was to provide residents of rural areas with elements of civic education that would be
independent of the official political system. The project was stimulated by the democratic
opposition movement connected with Komitet Obrony Robotników (KOR) [Committee for
Defence of Workers]. The project was developed and implemented by, inter alia, rev.
Czesław Sadłowski, Marzena and Wiesław Kęcik, Alina Cała, Michał Jagła and others.84 The
scientific information on that independent educational project for rural communities is far
from complete today. Nevertheless, the existence of a school linked to the idea of Folk High
Schools shows that democratic opposition existing in People‟s Republic of Poland tried to put
that proven and effective form of independent education to good use.
        d) 1981-1989
        The year 1981 saw a considerable development of the Folk High School movement in
Poland. The social protest of the beginning of 1980‟s – resulted also in the idea of
independent social and cultural initiatives connected with FHS tradition. Wiktor Jedliński has
interesting memories of those times: “The initiative group was set up as early as September
1980. It was to re-establish the Folk High Schools that were liquidated in the past. The
decision on their re-establishing was taken at I National Congress of the Union of Rural
Youth, held in the hall of Polish Academy of Science in Palace of Culture and Science in
Warsaw on 20-22 March 1981. The most significant role was played by the President of the

   Term used by B. Gołębiowski – idem, Przemiany społeczno-kFHSturalne wsi polskiej a uniwersytety ludowe.
[w:] Uniwersytety ludowe..., op. cit., Warszawa 1977,ps. 41-57.
   T. Pilch, Szkoła i nauczyciel w procesie przemian środowiska wiejskiego. PWN, Warszawa 1977, p. 103.
   Biographies of the people mentioned above [in:] Niezależni dla kultury. of 3 May
Executive Board of the Union of Rural Youth - Waldemar Świrgoń and [the future – T.M.]
President of the Society of Folk High Schools - Tadeusz Pilch, as well as Zbigniew
Kwieciński, who led the discussion”. Nine regional societies of Folk High Schools were
established in Poland between the spring and autumn of 1981. It was then that the work on
establishing a national Society of Folk High Schools started under the patronage of the just re-
established Union of Rural Youth. At the same time, preparations to opening the Baltic Folk
High School in Opalenie started at the initiative of dr. Narcyz Kozłowski – the President of
the Regional Society of Folk High Schools of Gdańsk, Elbląg and Słupsk regions, . BFHS
was officially launched at the meeting of the Executive Board of the Society of Folk High
Schools and the Presidium of the Executive Board of the Union of Rural Youth on 12 October
1981. The joint announcement (signed by W. Świrgoń and T. Pilch) made after the meeting
said: “The fact of establishing a Folk High School at the rebirth of a genuine movement of
rural youth, at the time when rural communities are starting to overcome spiritual crisis and
go back to the tradition is considered to be of great significance. Today, we clearly see once
again that the Polish national identity would not be true and complete without cultural,
spiritual and economic identity of villages and villagers. We will work under the famous
saying of the folk educational movement “With people for people”.85 Before the martial law
was introduced in Poland on 13 December 1981, the Baltic Folk High School managed to host
II National Congress of the Society of Folk High Schools. The fact that it was the second
congress was symbolic because it meant recognising the congress in Pabianice in 1945 as the
first one and clearly showed the linkage with the Society of Folk High Schools of the
Republic of Poland active in the period of 1945-48. In the Congress discussion, the speakers
emphasised the ideas and practical solutions to which the Baltic Folk High School and the
Society of Folk High Schools would refer to in their work. The numerous speakers pointed
out to different solutions. Some suggested that the movement should refer to Danish
solutions, others indicated the Swedish model, but finally it was decided that the programme
[...] “should be based on the examples set by Polish Folk High Schools, and that is what
happened”.86 BFHS functioned till the end of 1990‟s, and over the years there was a growing
tendency to make space for training field activists of the Union of Rural Youth, in particular
after the director Narcyz Kozłowski had left and after the central authorities of the Union of

  W. Jedliński, op. cit., p. 19-21.
  Ibidem, s. 21; comp. also: “Z ludźmi ku ludziom”..., op. cit., Warszawa 1982 – in particular the texts by: S.
Janiec (p. 42-48), N. Kozłowski (p. 11-19), M. Lasa (p. 90-97), T. Pilch (p. 72-79), F. Popławski (p. 20-41), H.
Szopa (p. 98-104) and L. Turos (p. 85-89).
Rural Youth had temporarily suspended the operation of the school in the autumn of 1985. 87
The Society of Folk High Schools is still the most active among organisations of Folk High
Schools connected with the secular trend.
        Apart from Folk High Schools connected with the Union of Rural Youth, there were
also residential schools connected with the Union of Polish Socialist Youth. They continued
the operation of nine previously existing school and established three new ones. In 1982, a
Central Folk High School was established in Rozalin. Initially it organised seminars and
training courses on culture and education and was involved in education of teachers for Folk
High Schools. In 1987, it started to deliver cultural education courses, such as 18 month long
courses for film popularisation instructors. Kashubian Folk High School in Wieżyca began its
educational activity in 1983. It was to educate employees of rural centres of culture and
nourish the culture and traditions of Kashubian and Pomeranian regions. And the last school
under the auspices of the Union of Polish Socialist Youth - Folk High School in Turno was
established in 1986. It started to specialise in courses for young people with artistic talents.88
        One historical episode can also be mentioned here as a contribution to the history of
Polish Folk High Schools: A project of establishing Slavic Folk High School (Slavisk
folhögskola) for refugees from Poland (and other countries of Central and eastern Europe) –
mainly the so called “Solidarity” emigration was discussed in Sweden. The work on
establishing that school was quite advanced but unfortunately the idea never reached the
implementation stage, remaining just an idea and a project.89

        Period VI: III Republic of Poland
        The 1990‟s saw a new awakening of “Polish citizenship” and a search for the position
for Folk High Schools in Polish society. The starting point at the outset of the new reality was
very favourable:
-    there were thirteen residential Folk High Schools functioning (in Ameliówka, Błotnica
     Strzelecka, Gardzienice, Klenica, Łodygowice, Opalenie, Radawnica, Rozalin, Rudziska
     Pasymskie, Wieżyca, Większyce, Wzdów) and two were not operational due to temporary
     difficulties (Gać Przeworska, Wierzchosławice);

   W. Jedliński, op. cit., p. 93; Bałtycki Folk High School w Opaleniu 1981-1984. ISiC, Warszawa 1984.
   Uniwersytety ludowe. Stowarzyszenie Polskie Uniwersytety Ludowe, Warszawa [b.r.w.], charts No 5, 6, 7.
   W. J. Wojtowicz, Folkhögskoleideolo i relation till “Polonia” ideologi i Sverige. “Folkhögskolan” 1983, No
6-7, p. 40-42; T. Maliszewski, Dwa nieznane szwedzkie epizody – przyczynek do historii polskich uniwersytetów
ludowych na obczyźnie. [in:] Dyskursy młodych andragogów, ed. J. Kargul, v. 2. Wyższa Szkoła im. Tadeusza
Kotarbińskiego, Zielona Góra 2001, p. 117-120.
-    three big nation-wide organisations were interested in running residential schools and
     were involved in various kinds of educational activities in rural areas (the Union of Polish
     Socialist Youth, the Union of Rural Youth and the Society of Folk High Schools),
-    FHS idea regained the approval of the authorities of the Catholic Church (the primate of
     Poland and many diocesan bishops) mainly as a part of religious teaching provided to
     farmers, more and more Catholic communities were interested in establishing their own
       It seemed that at the beginning of 1990‟s – when Poland was in great need of civic
education and democratisation programmes on all aspects of social life – the idea of Folk
High Schools would develop into a significant movement of adult education in our country. It
seemed obvious that the new political elites would be very willing to use the opportunities to
build civic society provided by Folk High Schools – following the examples of Denmark,
Sweden or Germany. Unfortunately, the hopes and dreams did not come true. The new
decision makers treated FHSs rather as “relics of the People‟s Republic of Poland” and
“agencies of youth organisations of Polish United Workers‟ Party and United Folk Alliance”
than as an effective tool of building democracy, which resulted from the rather modest
knowledge of the history of FHS idea among the politicians of that time. Youth organisations,
due to the lack of political patronage, difficulties of their own or under many other pretexts
got rid of the schools operating under their patronage, either liquidating them or leaving them
to themselves .
Analysing various documents and initiatives of that time one may get the impression that only
very few people really wanted to preserve residential Folk High Schools functioning till 1989
– mostly their employees and a few of the most active graduates of the schools.90
        Attempts were made to find international partners to run Polish Folk High Schools.
The project of saving the school in Rudziska Pasymskie, waiting for general repair, was a
typical example of that way of thinking in the community of Polish Folk High Schools in
1990‟s. The Association “Polish Folk High Schools” (see below) came up with an idea of
establishing a European Folk High School there as a place of meetings for European youth
and a centre of studies on democracy and civic education. Representatives of Scandinavian
Folk High Schools were involved in promulgating the idea. They tried to gain the interest of
the international community in the project and find sources of finance outside Poland. The

  T. Maliszewski, Polish Folk High Schools/”Folk Universities” – between Indifference of Society, Disregard
by Authorities and Passion for a Few. [in:] Adult Education in the Baltic Sea Region. Svenska Institutet,
Södertälje 1998, p. 19-21.
concept of European FHS became one of the main subjects of the International Conference:
“European Folk High School Movement at the beginning of 21st Century” (Rozalin, 14-16
June 1991).91 This interesting project was never implemented, however, despite the fact that
many international partners expressed “their willingness to participate in further development
works”92. Unfortunately, the partners did not manage to acquire any external funds to finance
the implementation of the project. The initiative of the Association “Polish Folk High
Schools” can be treated as a desperate attempt to save a declining school in the Mazury
region. Despite the involvement of the Scandinavians – the attempt was unsuccessful and the
Folk High School in Rudziski was liquidated. There have been similar unsuccessful
initiatives, such as Folk High School in Rudno or Folk High School of “Solidarity” Trade
Union near Kościerzyna (supported by Swedish Union of Workers‟ Education /ABF/).93
      A special independent patron organisation – Association “Polish Folk High Schools” -
was set up to take care of the Folk High Schools subordinated to the end of 1980‟s to the
Union of Polish Socialist Youth .94 In 1990‟s, unsettled ownership issues, problems with
subsidies to finance day-to-day operation (and sometimes, unfortunately, just unfriendly
attitude of some representatives of the Ministry of National Education or regional educational
authorities) resulted in a decreased number of Folk High Schools following that trend. Today,
out of 12 FHSs that used to operate under the patronage of the Union of Polish Socialist
Youth there are only four left – FHS in Radawnica, FHS in Wzdów, FHS in –Ameliówka,
where an independent association to run the school was established, and FHS in Wieżyca,
which gained the patronage of Kashubian-Pomeranian Association (the biggest regional
organisation in Polish part of Pomeranian Region). The schools modified their educational
offer, on the one hand trying to maintain the school profiles developed before (Wzdów,
Wieżyca) or develop new ones (Ameliówka, Radawnica, Starbienino – a branch of Kashubian
FHS), on the other hand – trying to adapt their programmes to the needs of local communities
and building civic society.95

    Materials from the archives the Association of Polish Folk High Schools (called: A-APFHS), file:
“Konferencja międzynarodowa – Rozalin: 14-16. 06.1991” – Protokół obrad, Rozalin 14-16 June 1991.
   A-APFHS, file: “Współpraca międzynarodowa – year 1991/92”.
   Information of ABF members from Kalmar and Stockholm (Borgholm-Oland, 25 October 1995) and members
of Education Section of National Commission of “Solidarność” Trade Union during the meeting on the future of
Polish Folk High Schools (Gdańsk, 26 November 1998).
   Decision of the Regional Court in Warsaw – VIII Civil Department of 21 May 1990; registration No: RSt 798.
   A-APFHS – various files; A. Felisek, Informacja o działalności Stowarzyszenia Uniwersytet Ludowy
Ameliówka, Masłów, 17.10.1997 (manuscript in possession of the author); information of A. Kijewski – director
of Małopolski Folk High School in Wzdów and B. Mincewicz – director of FHS in Radawnica (materials in
      The Society of Folk High Schools was also active after 1989. Operating as a social
voluntary organisation, at the end of the previous decade it was not able to bear the burden of
maintaining a residential school on its own, despite great efforts made the members of the
community. The attempt by the Society of Folk High Schools to take over the Folk High
Schools operating under the patronage of the Union of Rural Youth was equally unsuccessful.
It was later that they managed to launch a few Residential Folk High Schools (Głuchów,
Lubiejewo, Barlewiczki, Kłanino, Marianowo) – most often based on the accommodation
facilities of secondary schools of agriculture and the teachers and students of those schools,
working for the benefit of the members of their communities. Other forms of the activity of
the Society of Folk High Schools include: the work of the Committee for Humanistic
Educational Initiatives, of the Youth Committee, assistance to folk music groups, periodical
broadcast in Channel I of the Polish Radio (Radio Folk High School), “Drzazga” [“Splinter”]
a magazine of the Society‟s youth, chronicles in the form of brochures – reports on periodical
meetings of teachers and young people, folk poetry books, song books, and in particular – a
quarterly magazine of the Society called “Polish Folk High School”, whose 50 issues up to
date present a number of interesting articles on the subjects relevant not only to the
community of the Society of Folk High Schools.96
      Some other social organisations have referred to the tradition of Folk High Schools over
past few years. They include: Mazovian Society of Folk High Schools, which emerged from
the structure of the Society of Folk High School and became independent in the years 1990-
1992, Pomeranian Association of Folk High Schools (starting June 1998, operating as
Committee for Revival of Folk High Schools “Młody Las” [“Young Forest”]) of the
Foundation “Social Welfare SOS”.97
      Great revival of the idea of Folk High School can also be observed in the Catholic
Church over the past few years. Those initiatives are mostly taken up by religious services for
farmers within diocesan structures, but also by secular persons. Based on the social teaching
of the Church, programme assumptions of Catholic secular organisations, and with reference
to the traditions from before the Second World war, FHS provide educational services aimed

possession of the author); M. Byczkowski, Lifelong learning w wydaniu pomorskim. Kaszubski Uniwersytet
Ludowy. ZK-P, Wieżyca 2001 (copied manuscript).
   B. Antoszczyk, Towarzystwo uniwersytetów ludowych – prezentacja. “Rocznik Andragogiczny 1999”,
Warszawa-Toruń 2000, p. 188-191; J. Harasimowicz, Towarzystwo Uniwersytetów Ludowych: Komisja
Humanistycznych Inicjatyw Edukacyjnych. “Rocznik Andragogiczny 1999”, Warszawa-Toruń 2000, p. 194-196.
   T. Kaczyński, Rola uniwersytetów ludowych w oświacie pozaszkolnej w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej na tle
działalności Płockiego Uniwersytetu Ludowego. MTTUL, [Płock 1997]; information of J. Czerwiński –
President of Pomeranian Association of Folk High Schools (materials in possession of the author); comp. also
the article by D. in this volume.
an increasing the level of general and vocational education and at maintaining Christian
culture in rural areas. Despite the fact that the initiatives do not have the character of
residential courses, their links with FHS traditions are very clear both in the methods of
educational work and in the programmes. Precise identification of educational needs of local
communities is also an important aspect of the activities of the Catholic Church related Folk
High Schools. There are also many initiatives that are not directly related to the structures of
Catholic Church but which clearly refer to Christian values, such as Wielkopolskie Society of
Folk High Schools, Author‟s Folk High School named after rev. A. Ludwiczak in Żabno, Folk
High School of the Society of Folk Reading Rooms in Bolszewo or Social Catholic Folk High
School in Giżycko.98

        Revival of the idea and organisational pluralism characteristic for the 1921-1939
period, seems to be a great chance for the movement of Polish Folk High Schools. However,
from the perspective of the fourteen year of the new social, political and economic reality, one
can unfortunately see that Polish Folk High Schools cannot be sure of their future, despite the
growing involvement of the movement and relatively numerous initiatives adopting the ideas
and names of the FHS tradition. This is the effect of the lack of clear legislation on the
position of Folk High Schools in Polish system of adult education and the way of financing
them. On the other hand, since the beginning of 1990‟s, Folk High Schools have not been able
to develop a common representation that could integrate its efforts and efficiently lobby for
adopting legal solutions that would give Folk High Schools a more stable and permanent
position on the Polish educational scene. The attempts made so far: in 1994 (KRUL –
National Council of Folk High Schools), in 1997 (conference in Starbienino) and in 1998 (the
Warsaw meetings) have been failures.99 Nevertheless, further initiatives for institutionalised
co-operation can be expected in the near future.
        The ones interested in development of the Folk High School movement are in constant
search for the form of Polish Folk High schools. Great attention needs to be given to all such

   Z. Rola, Uniwersytet Ludu Oświeconego. (conversation with C. Janicki). “Trybuna” 19911, No 72, p. 2; C.
Janicki, Wielkopolskie Towarzystwo Uniwersytetów Ludowych w Poznaniu. Zarząd Główny WTUL, Poznań,
December 1998 (copied manuscript); S.K., Ludowy i katolicki – uniwersytet starosty.”Gazeta Olsztyńska” 1998,
No 250, p. 4; information of P. Górski – director of FHS in Żabno (materials in possession of the author); See
also: M. Rosalska, The Role of Folk High Schools in Shaping Civil Behaviour among Rural Youth. [in:] Adult
Education and Democratic Citizenship III, ed. by M. Bron, J. Field. Lower Silesian University College of
Education, Wrocław 2001, p. 173-192.
   KRUL Information Bulletin, ed. S. Gawor. National Council of Folk High Schools, Warszawa – March 1994
(No 1) and June 1994 (No 2); Archives of Kashubian FHS – file: Konferencja “Uniwersytety Ludowe w Polsce
– zmierzch idei czy nowe wyzwanie?”; Z. Kaczor-Jędrzycka, Protokół z posiedzenia przedstawicieli różnych
nurtów ruchu uniwersytetów ludowych w Polsce. Warszawa, 1 December 1998 (copied manuscript).
initiatives. They will probably decide about the face of Folk High School in the years to
come. The schools such as the Residential Popular High School named after J. J. Lipski in
Teremiski in Białowieża Primeval Forest in 2002, the concept of launching Silesian Folk
High School based on the facilities of the Folk High School in Błotnica Strzelecka in Opole
region, or apparent development of church Folk High Schools clearly indicate the directions
of activities that should be taken up both in the near and more remote future.

        Activities based on good will of Folk High Schools students seem to have always been
the most characteristic feature of Polish Folk High Schools. “Not pressure or compulsion, or
certificates (as in formal educational system) but meeting own spiritual needs makes people
come” to such schools. “Freedom of development, no permanent programmes and changing
forms make the institutions not only complement formal schools but also, to a certain extent,
correct them, compensate the deficiencies resulting from the rigid character of school
systems”. Another characteristic feature of voluntary institutions is – as we know – the fact
that “they can exist only if they manage to attract people who want to meet the needs. That is
what makes them flexible, able to leave the trodden paths and combine various areas”.
Voluntary participation also creates special social relationships – „moral standards of the
team, consciously aiming at attaining common objectives”. A combination of several
elements: awakened needs, awareness of ideas, organised resources and learning the
technique are necessary to attain such objectives.100 How important and up to date are the
guidelines for contemporary Folk High Schools in Poland (and elsewhere) developed by H.
Radlińska 70 year ago . The same is true about the opinion s of I. Solarz – who said that “it is
actually the teachers who make a Folk High School. Not the organisation, not a rigid
programme, but the teachers as live programmes, their personalities, with a clear idea and a
loving for it”,101 because “Folk High School means search for human values. And if a man‟s
character is a set of his moral values and if he is constantly aiming at developing them and his
life – then Folk High School is a school of character”.102 Similar thoughts were repeatedly
voiced in the history of Polish Folk High Schools. As early as in 1907, one of the students of
the first legal course of the Peasant High School in Warsaw noted: “our school is a free school

    H. Radlińska, Stosunek wychowawcy do środowiska społecznego. Warszawa 1935. [following:] Postępowa
myśl oświatowa w Polsce w latach 1918-1939. Introduction and ed.: B. Ługowski, F. W. Araszkiewicz. Zakład
Narodowy im. Ossolińskich. Wrocław 1972, p. 312-114.
    I. Solarz, op. cit., Warszawa 1937, p. 10.
    As A. Kozieł – teacher in Folk High School in Szyce noted. Idem, Teoria uniwersytetu ludowego. “Idzie
Wieś” 1938, No 1, p. 26.
which makes a peasant a citizen of the country, which gives him the right to a free soul, and
which makes his old, slave-like soul go away. The school does not make a peasant believe
that he is powerful; it rather makes him conscious of his powerlessness and helplessness in
relations with the privileged classes. Power is gained through knowledge, and that is what a
peasant lacks. The school gives knowledge, it also teaches how to live, it shapes the character,
broadens the mind”.103 After half a century, one of the graduates of Ludwiczak‟s Dalki saw
the work there in a similar way: “My experience indicates that FHS is more than just a school.
It is an educational institution which, through its free, relaxed atmosphere, adequate forms
practised in everyday life not only provides knowledge but - first of all – educates its students
to become valuable people, conscious citizens, social activists. It is an institution in which a
young man in the most stormy time of his life, the period of searching, of ups and downs – is
to find who he is, to decide about his life, to practise his strong will, fair character and ability
to co-exist with other people and to develop bonds with his fellow citizens, with folk and
national culture, in order to develop a single national culture”.104 Similar opinions are
probably voiced by FHS graduates today, giving hope for the future. Although in Poland we,
unfortunately, have to remember that what Solarz said many years ago is still of great
significance to us: there is sill not enough understanding for the essence of Folk High Schools
and they are judged by their external appearances”.105
There is, however, a great power in this educational concept. The power that makes
successive generations of the young people of Poland join FHS communities. Despite
unfavourable external conditions, frequent lack of understanding and support from the elites,
despite insufficient economic and legal grounds for FHS initiatives sustainability, people in
Poland have been turning to Grundtvig‟s ideas for decade now, trying to combine them
creatively with Polish tradition, as well as with the educational challenges faced in different
periods of our history.

    P. Koczara, op. cit., p 280-281.
    A. Kowal-Marcinek, Sprawa uniwersytetów ludowych w Polsce. “Kierunki” 1958, No 3, p.11.
    I. Solarz, op. cit., Warszawa 1937, p. 7.

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