Prof. Maria Mendel: parents are co-hosts of the school. University discussions on sustainability

Goal 4 of sustainable development - good quality of education was the subject of a conversation with prof. dr hab. Maria Mendel, social pedagogue, Head of the Department of Social Pedagogy, UG. What kind of place is a Polish school for a student? What role does the parent play in it? In what state is the education of children and young people in Poland? Answers to these and many other questions can be heard in an interview in the series University Conversations on Sustainable Development

The Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Gdańsk popularises research results and teaching and project activities related to sustainable development of researchers, didactics, PhD students and students of the University of Gdańsk as part of the University Conversations on Sustainable Development programme. The project is carried out based on interviews, presentations and popular science articles with reference materials.

This time, prof. dr hab. Maria Mendel, a social pedagogue and researcher from the Institute of Pedagogy, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Gdańsk, Head of the Department of Social Pedagogy, University of Gdańsk, was invited to the interview. The topic of the interview was Sustainable Development Goal 4: Good quality of education. Professor Maria Mendel also answered questions about the condition of the Polish school and the challenges it faces:

'It is about good education for all. Without privileging elite groups. It is about ensuring that this drive to improve the quality of education applies to every school, every individual who is involved in education - one that applies to absolutely everyone regardless of age, gender, race and nationality, or whatever category. The accent falls precisely on the slogan "equality". This equality is, as we know, the flag for democracy. In fact, this fourth objective can be read as the democratisation of education. When I say education, I am thinking of more than education: it is also the system in which education is delivered, is implemented,' - says prof. Maria Mendel.

The head of the Department of Social Pedagogy also paid special attention in the interview to the place of parents in school life. As she says, parents who are recognised as co-hosts of the school create through their actions an opportunity to build a more civic, more democratic society:

'Parents want, under the conditions we have today, to defend the school against indoctrination, including religious indoctrination. They are [...] saying straightforwardly: the children are ours, all children. Also the LGBT+ and transgender ones, all of them. Any comment that denies them a place in the school, orders them just so repulsively to find a place elsewhere, is simply a violation of human rights,' - the researcher emphasises.

The position of a parent at school should be strengthened all the time. Professor Maria Mendel notes that a student does not enter school 'stripped' of his or her local community, culture, problems, happy solutions and successes. The school should take individual needs into account. It should not just lock itself into a rigid implementation of the 'laboratory-cut core curriculum', because by acting in this way, it is simply not fulfilling its function.

'In the early 1990s, there were schools where a red line was painted behind which parents were not allowed to pass. What a paradox that a parent, a co-host, is not allowed to cross that line. If such practices are in place if we add to them the fact that it is still a very rare practice in our country that it is the parents who, feeling that they are co-hosts of the school, simply invite teachers and pupils to meetings organised by them. If such practices take place at school, this parental culture, this being among each other of parents takes place exactly outside the school space, i.e. on the periphery, sometimes literally,' - explains Professor Maria Mendel.

The interview was conducted by CZRUG employee Szymon Gronowski.

The entire interview is in the video published below.


Szymon Gronowski/CZR UG