• from The Columbus Dispatch - "OSU-Mershon Program Aids Polish Schools."

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OSU-Mershon Program Aids Polish Schools.

March 7, 1997

By William L. Bainbridge

The advent of democracy in Poland precipitated the need for citizenship education.

I’m visiting Warsaw to study an outstanding program, Education for Democratic Citizenship in Poland, which has been operating since 1991 with the cooperation of the Ohio State University College of Education and the Mershon Center.

OSU’s Richard Remy, the program’s co-director, started the effort at the request of the Polish Ministry of Education.. Along with numerous OSU faculty, teachers from eight area school districts, including Columbus, have visited Poland as consultants. The importantce of this project cannot be overstated. Democracy cannot succeed without citizens who recognize their rights and freedoms. The consultants from OSU have been of great assistance to the Polish leadership in designing programs to teach students the importance of participating in the decision-making structure in their communities.

Jacek Strzemieczmy, the Polish co-director of the project center, told us that "the cultivation of civic attitudes is not deeply rooted in our society. We are always faced with obstacles based on feelings of nostalgia for the lost state of control and social care. People are sometimes disappointed with procedures and institutions of our fledgling democracy. We appreciate the work of Mershon and the U.S. Information Agency in helping us design programs to encourage democratic decision-making particularly among the young and unemployed."

The Polish education system is seriously challenged and its schools frequently suffer from inadequate organization and financing. Education can play a key role in the democratic process, and the Center for Citizenship Education, The OSU/Mershon sponsor of the Polish efforts, aims to support schools in promoting civic attitudes and democratic values among Polish youth. My visit with them confirms the fact that this important project centers its attention on teaching the practical skills necessary in a democratic society and free marketplace.

The Center for Citizenship Education is involved in:

  • Civic education at community government schools—introducing an extended civic and economic education curriculum into primary schools.
  • Constitutional and civic education for secondary schools—including preparation of new curriculum and lesson plans and teacher training.
  • Young people vote—a project organized to provide students the opportunity to be more involved with political life and to express their own views on crucial public issues.
  • Pre-service teacher training—cooperating with universities and teacher-training colleges in introducing and disseminating new, interactive teaching and learning methods.
  • Training civic education leaders, leaders and experts—development and dissemination of new civic education curricula based on interactive teaching and learning methods.
  • Publications—including a newsletter, KOSS, prepared and edited by participants in the courses, for other teachers and resource materials for teachers and students including lesson plans, student workbooks and textbooks.

I could have selected a better time of year in terms of climate to visit Warsaw. However, the warm feeling about the Columbus-based contribution to democracy stands in stark contrast to the winter winds in Poland.

is Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Dayton and is President & Chief Executive Officer of SchoolMatch®, a Columbus based educational auditing, research, data firm.

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