How the model of family in Poland has changed in the last 50 years

Family is undoubtedly one of the most important elements of the life of many. However, have you ever wondered what the word “family” really means? The definition has been changing over the years and so has the model of a traditional household. In 1948 United Nations created a definition that reads as follows: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”. Now, I would like to quote a statement made by U.S. Census Bureau in 2005, so 57 years after the UN’s one: “A family consists of two or more people, one of whom is the householder, related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing in the same housing unit. A household consists of all people who occupy a housing unit regardless of relationship. A household may consist of a person living alone or multiple unrelated individuals or families living together.”. It seems that a lot has changed over 57 years when you compare those two definitions. In this article I will present some of these changes that have taken place within the last 50 years in family structure in Poland, taking into consideration some particular factors.

Number of married couples

In the last 50 years, we have been able to observe major changes in the number of married couples. Currently, the number of people who decide not to change their marital status is increasing. Those differences result from changes in public opinion, traditions and customs. Now unmarried cohabitation is not so widely perceived as some kind of sin or shame. Numerous people in the 60’s and 70’s thought about the marriage as some kind of obligation or they just wanted to follow moral and religious principles. An unmarried couple living together was almost scandalous. Nowadays, we see that many pairs decide to live together without the sacrament of matrimony. They probably either don’t want to make such a responsible choice at a young age or desire to try living together before actually tying the knot. We must not forget about the people who just decide to remain single. This might be because of difficulties with relationships, a desire to stay independent, a career or simply natural state of being.

Divorce rate

Regrettably, the divorce rate has been increasing in the last 50 years. The causes of divorces are frequently really complicated, nevertheless, they might be connected with the fact that people have stopped thinking about marriage as something sacred and everlasting (which is also linked with the cause of the decreasing number of marriages). In 1960 approximately 6 pairs out of 100 were divorced. In 1981 the figures increased to 12 out of 100 and in 2016- 35 out of 100. The difference of 19 points between 1960 and 2016 is really alarming. Sadly, the statistics forecast a steady rise in divorce rate, which may cause several disturbances of the family model in the future.

Size

There’s been a change in the number of family members over the years. Formerly, the most popular model of family was parents with 3 or more children. The main differences occurred in the 60’s- at the time when work started to influence people’s lives and women had to combine their work with raising children. People used to live in extended families, often with their grandparents and other relatives. This habit changed completely after the labour migration had begun- young people started moving out in order to find jobs. Then, they started their own families in different places, which afterwards created the idea of an immediate family. Nowadays, households are ordinarily small. More and more couples decide not to have kids in order to pursue their careers or because of lack of time.

Childcare

As I’ve mentioned before, in the 60’s women began their work careers. They needed to reconcile working and family life, therefore, workplace nurseries started to be popular. Sometimes when the model of extended family was still very common, grandparents took care of children while both of the kids’ parents had to work. 20th century was also the beginning of a different fatherhood- some men (instead of women) started taking care of children. It was a significant change- the first time in the history of family, the father took over childcare. Currently, the role of both parents is equally significant. Moreover, paternity leaves are becoming more common- fathers decide to take greater part in a rising their children.

Birth rate

Birth rate had been increasing especially in the 80’s. 1983 was the year of the highest birth rate in the history of Poland (almost 724 000 births). Since then, birth rate in Poland decreased by approximately 35-40%. The cause of this dramatic fall in given births were (and still are) decisions made by young people to delay parenthood until the end of education. This is particularly true to women who want to finish higher education before having children. Another factor which plays an important role in declining birth rate is a steady fall in the number of marriages.

In summary, in the last 50 years we have seen considerable changes in the family structure in Poland caused by our history and a change in social conventions. It’s hard to say what the traditional family will look like in the next 50 years because of our constant development. Maybe we should pay attention to bringing back the original model of family, altered to fit all the changes that occur in our lives.

-Mary

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How to become an exchange student?

Going to another country for few weeks, a semester or even a year sounds like a great adventure but are you really ready for it and do you know how to do it? Here are some steps and advice on how to become an exchange student in a foreign country.

The best time to become an exchange student is high school. You are old enough to fly on your own and take care of yourself in strangers’ company, but also young enough to enjoy the exchange and make the best out of it. You should start thinking about your exchange early fall. Firstly, you need to be certain you want to be an exchange student. Being abroad allows you to learn new perspectives on many issues, experience culture, meet new people and make foreign friends for life. Of course you get to improve your language skills. However, it also comes with disadvantages like culture shock, not seeing your friends and family for a long time, living with strangers, and many more. It is often helpful to get advice from previous exchange students who can share their experiences (both positive and negative) with you. Next, you need to think about the costs of such service. Can you afford flights, visas, school etc. in a foreign country? There are few organizations that grant you scholarships or full-rides to schools abroad, nonetheless there is always a lot of people doing their best to get those. You should apply to them very early, as they usually take a lot of time to organize. Thirdly, you have to choose a foreign exchange program that will send you abroad. Some of those are: Youth for Understanding (YFU), International Cultural Exchange Services, Educational Merit Foundation, FLEX. Once you apply, they might need you to take a language exam to prove you have basic skills of using the language of your host country and you will manage during school classes. Once you get accepted by a program, you have to apply for a visa as soon as possible (if your exchange country requires visas). You can also start reading interesting things about a country and city you are going to. It’s also good to get in touch with a family who will be hosting you in their home. Tell them about your life, what are your expectations of your exchange and try to learn as much as you can about their lives, community and school, which of course you will have to attend. You can also look up your city and school online, which will give you some insight on what awaits you. Most programs have a few day orientation before you leave. They are beneficial for the final details and questions that make everything function smoothly.

Finally, you need to prepare yourself mentally for leaving, say your goodbyes and pack your suitcase! The great adventure awaits so don’t wait too long to make up your mind! Apply today and experience what only a small fraction of people do: an amazing time in foreign country, with unique people and one and only atmosphere!

-Kate

There is something about that place I can feel just by walking past it on my way to work everyday. I never look at it. I never walk inside it. I never observe. I never wonder about what is inside. I only glance at it. I do it on my way to work, and not think about it for the whole day. I do it when going back home, and it’s not bothering me in my dreams. It wasn’t, at least, until recently.

 

I live on my own, in a small flat, half an hour away from my workplace. It is of no use for you to know of my profession, as I am merely an observer in this story, contrary to what I might have said earlier. An observer, at best. There are some key facts I cannot omit as the happenings, which I am, soon, to reveal to you, are highly dependent on personal, psychical perception. Therefore, the personal aspect must not be neglected. Like in all stories, there will be bias. I might not be trustworthy, no one can ever absolutely be. But it doesn’t mean any of the things I’m about to say are not true.

 

****

 

I live on my own, in a small flat, half an hour away from my workplace. I do not own a car, nor do I take any form of public transport. I’ve always enjoyed the walk down the street. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the people: at the fancy old ladies in wide brimmed hats and jewellery made of fake pearls bought in a charity shop. At the young girls wearing either too short a skirt or too big a cleavage in their v-necks. At the boys in baggy trousers. And at the  old men in checkered button ups and pink sweaters their wives bought for them. There isn’t anyone outstanding here, really. Neither are here such places. Just your old selection of all the basic stores and cafes run by the town folk. No big chain stores, nothing innovative, modern, and therefore nothing controversial, which is what the people here are the most proud of and I guess I was, too.

 

Not until I noticed that the old bookstore I and no one, really, visited was closed.

 

First, there was a sign „for sale”. No One cared about it, even when They would stumble and walk into it. Then, there was a truck, nothing written on it, and people came out of it and started unpacking. Even though Everyone was aware of its existence, when asked, No One could recall what it brought to the town.

 

Everything changed when a little girl was making a scene in the middle of the pavement. Everyone walked around them, as far as they could, respecting the fact that the situation was none of their business. Because it was so crowded, I had to walk closer to the crying girl and her mother. The little one took that opportunity and upon noticing me, grabbed my hand and stopped me.

 

„Please”, she starts, her eyes watery and big, full of trust in a stranger. „My mummy won’t buy me a lollipop!”

 

I look at her and then at her mother.

 

„Gosh, I’m so sorry”, says the woman, not really sounding apologetic. „Susie, stop it, this instant.” She catches her child’s arm and starts pulling her away from me, but the girl still holds my arm.

 

I do not say, nor do anything, let the mother do what she thinks will work with her child. But it seems like nothing does and when the girl finally lets go of me, I stumble and fall onto the pavement.

 

The two females don’t look back at me and rush in their way, leaving me sitting on the ground.

 

When I get up, my gaze falls on the black windows of the used-to-be-bookstore. I force it to look back in the direction the woman and the child went in and I see them far in the distance. And I see the girl glancing over her shoulder at me. And I think I see a smile but it could be the hot air bending my sight, creating a mirage.

 

****

I brush off the dirt from my knees and sigh lightly, adjusting my bag and already forgetting about the unusual situation. Just as I was always instructed to do. There is no need for remembering the bad about people, my mum used to say. I was supposed to smile and ignore unusual behaviour. I guess Everyone here did that.

 

No One stopped to check up on me, just as No One stopped to help the little girl up. I would be surprised if They did. I wouldn’t trust to hold the hand that would be extended to me by such a person.

 

What did surprise me, though, was how They began walking into me, as if They didn’t notice or didn’t want to make and effort in order to see and avoid me in Their route across the pavement. Bizarre, I thought.

 

I found myself being pushed to the side of the pavement where I decided I would wait out the busiest moments, when Everyone was rushing somewhere. I looked to my right, to the end of the street, once again, in order to check whether I could still see the girl and her mother. Susie. I whispered her name and when I was just about to decide that it was quite strange and that I had never heard anyone use their names on the streets before, the door behind me opened.

 

I felt the air around me move, be sucked in, as if the opening of the door caused a draft inside the black-windowed used-to-be-bookstore. I felt something else be sucked inside as well. I couldn’t quite say what it was, though.

 

Now, before I say anything else, I need to make it clear that I don’t nor should I wear any type of corrective eyewear. What I saw was not the fault of contacts falling out or hair in my eyes.

 

The Person that went out of the, what I assumed to be, store was out of focus, blurred. It was like the memory of a drawing that you used too much pressure for, and weren’t able to erase it completely. Something you despised unable to be removed completely. The blur of Their face, however, was glowing. Like whitened paper, the structure of which has been disrupted by an eraser you’ve been using too harshly.

 

The wind whirled and I did not hear my name in it, which is something I kind of was expecting would happen in such a situation. Nonetheless, something did tell me to go in.

 

So I did.

-jagoda nowak

Fifty shades of IB Journal. Wait, what?

Hello,

I am a new addition to the IB Journal Team.

Before diving into a new series of mine, I would like to inform you, since, I believe, warnings are not required here (or maybe they are if you are specifically sensitive), that the content of my works may or may not be ‘explicit’. But, to be honest, I am just planning to express my thoughts about various aspects of sexuality, human body and mind.

However, be prepared that I may/will speak about human physiology, human body, but most importantly, in my opinion, eroticism (yeah, kinks included).

Every detail, even the spicy ones, will be described in a very open, understandable way, and it can be shocking at first. However my aim is to abandon the feelings of awkwardness, shyness or embarrassment.

Okay, enough of introductions for now. Let’s dig in.

Position One: Round One
SexEd

These days sex education has become an important issue, very often mentioned in press and generally in public discussions about raising children and spreading awareness among the youth. Sadly, even now spreading awareness is simply not enough, since very often people (of every shape, size, sex, age, color) lack the basic knowledge about the topic and are/were not properly introduced into the world of sexual self-consciousness.
Why is it like that? Why does sex remain such a taboo topic?

Well, it is not as easy to find a clear-cut answer. Sex has been a part of human’s life since the beginning of our beginnings – as a way to reproduce, to find pleasure, to express emotions, to connect with one another, to explore the unknown areas of mind, therefore it is a crucial part of lives of most people – dare I say all people, since without sexual reproduction we would simply cease to exist. So let’s rephrase the aforementioned question:

Why does sex remain such a taboo topic if it is a natural and important aspect of our existence?

In my opinion it is because people make it difficult to talk about, fear to talk about it and once they do, they often feel uncomfortable, shy, awkward. From my perspective it can also be a cultural pressure of some kind. Just to provide an example, Poland is one of the most catholic countries in the world – officially with around 80% of the population being of that faith. Obviously, church has been an important part of our history and even now seems to have a significant impact on the Polish authorities and public opinion, creating certain ideas of the ‘perfect’ family model (married, opposite-sex couples with children), limiting the sexual aspect of human’s life to reproduction and, of course, protesting against LGBTQ+ community and freedom of love. Those issues become the barriers between children and their parents, making it less and less easy for them to openly discuss about sex education and sex in general.

The key to change is facing the feelings of awkwardness, discomfort and shyness and trying to abandon them, especially in the context of the sexual education. When it comes to my personal experiences, I can happily say that I am one of the lucky ones who were born into a very open and understanding family. First of all, I cannot express my gratitude for my mom who is one of the most mature women I know. She has always been aware of the importance of preparing her children for the adulthood and the mysteries of the future.

The most interesting thing about being introduced to the sex education by my parents is that I do not remember when exactly I came to understand and know more about the matter (though I know I was still a little girl when I started to understand how everything works). I have to admit that I cannot recall one specific moment of ‘now is the time for the serious conversation since you’re old enough to know’ which I am more than happy about.

Because, honestly, when are we ‘old enough’ to talk about it, old enough to know?

To Be Continued.

 

PS. Every now and then I will propose theme songs for a new (first?) IB Journal Playlist called:

pillows on the floor

This week’s songs are:

Acquainted by The Weeknd
Faded by Tink

 

Enjoy.

Mary Magdalene James

Amazing ib students

5:30 AM. It’s freezing outside and sunlight is gently creeping in through the trees, but for Tosia Łęcka, a 16-year-old pre-IB student and committed golfer, it’s nothing but a part of a daily routine.

Tosia started playing golf in 2014 and is currently ranked first in the Polish Golf Association junior ranking. She is a member of the national team; this year she represented Poland at the Junior Open, one of the most prestigious junior tournaments in the World. What is more, this summer she won the title of the Vice-Champion in the Polish Junior Championship in Junior Girls’ category. Is it hard for her to deal with a demanding pre-IB program while still continuing to train extensively?

‘Generally it requires pretty much effort and systematic work’ – she says, ‘but it’s not that hard after all. I just make the most of my time, doing homework in the train or studying while doing planks (chuckle). Schoolwork is always at the first place as it is what’s more important for my future, but golf is my passion and would be hard to give up.’

But at some point in the future, Tosia will have to make a decision, probably the most important one in her life – should she sacrifice her university studies to play golf as a professional? Or vice versa?

‘I don’t know really what I want to do with my sport’s future’ – she tells the IB Journal ‘I want to be as good a player as I can but I won’t sacrifice my future dream university or job to achieve that. What I know is I don’t want to be a professional player since it’s not really a career path that promises development and I don’t think it would satisfy me.’

There’s also much to say about golf itself, and its situation in Poland. Polish Golf Association was created in 1993, so it is not as respected as the other European associations are. Furthermore, Tosia stresses another important issue that Polish golfers face:

‘There are some things that could be done better, but golf in Poland is in such an early state of its development that it “has to” be going the right direction. However, I think, and it’s not only my opinion, that girls are discriminated against considering the number of international tournaments that they get the chance to participate in.’

As we can see, there’s still much to improve. For now, we wish Tosia a fun and fruitful time in high school, and, of course, further achievements in golf!

-Kuba Jezierski & Wiktor Kociemba

Artists Revealed #1: Death Warmed Over, tin cans and crazy hairstyles.

 

Immortalising oneself through art seems to be an enchanting concept. No wonder that so many tried to create a masterpiece to be remembered for. Millions have failed, only a bunch succeeded, becoming famous even for one particular artwork. However, triumph has its price, namely spending your whole life in the shadow of that single achievement… That’s why most of us knows pretty many songs, paintings or poems, but has no idea about their creators and the stories behind them.

This is the reason why I have decided to start the Artists Revealed series. Every few weeks, I will be digging out an underestimated or less popular artist whose life had been full of elements that you may find interesting or unexpected.

So, the first one chosen by me is actually labelled as one of the most popular ones, but Tom, Dick or Harry will associate him with nothing more than Campbell’s Soup paintings or Marilyn Monroe’s portraits. As you probably recognized, I’m thinking about Andy Warhol.

Personally I found the most surprising that although he was born and bred in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he wasn’t American at all. His parents, Julia and Andrew (after whom he was named), were working-class Lemko immigrants from Slovakia. Moreover, they used to live so close to the Polish border, that a suspicion about their Polish ancestry arose. Well, we can be proud anyway!

When someone was a world-famous artist, giving large parties and being in charge of a large business, it may appear unbelievable that he could have been antisocial. Well, Andy certainly was. Since he has been a child, he was extremely ashamed of opening his mouth because of his Slavic accent (Julia insisted on speaking her mother tongue at home). As a highly introverted person, he couldn’t connect with people and had hardly any friends until he became famous. Instead of socializing, he preferred to stay at home and watch TV which he became very passionate about. Moreover, as an adult he would often come to a party and not say a single world all night long. He would just sit there and observe everything with a poker face. People found it spooky and started to call him Death Warmed Over.

This nickname could also have been influenced by his appearance. He was naturally pale and slim. In his early twenties, as a melancholic feeling tired of being expected to act like a young, energetic man, Andy dyed his hair grey. It amused him to make others struggle on with guessing his age. A few years later he had started getting bald, so he began to wear eccentric wigs. His co-workers associated his new look to Dracula and just because started calling him Drella, which stands for Dracula & Cinderella (it can be also interpreted as a symbol of his contradictory features: bashfulness and spite). Warhol himself disliked it, but it eventually became very popular. After his death, Lou Reed and John Cale have even released an album named Songs for Drella, which was a cycle about him. These two have previously belonged to the Velvet Underground – a rock band whose manager was Andy. Apart from creating paintings and movies, he would often design album covers for such artists as The Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Diana Ross or Aretha Franklin, not to mention his own band.

Warhol’s approach to work was quite interesting; he would never make art for art itself – he had always been making it for money. He had been trying to commercialize it and used to depict himself as a machine. He knew the secrets of advertisement and making business of anything. And that’s what got him into the mainstream. Everyone could draw a picture of Campbell’s Soup can and copy it 32 times, but Andy was the one who raised it to the range of great art. So, maybe the way you do something means more than the result itself?

//AA

Interview with Mr. Michał Kosacki- the new mathematics teacher at II LO in Poznań

Bartosz Czech: How long have you been teaching maths?

Michał Kosacki: I  finished my studies in 2011. After that  I thaught students at the university for two years. So I was an university teacher for two years and since 2013 I have been teaching at high school. So now I think… How many years? I think I have been a teacher for 5 years.

Jan Bartkowiak: How did your education look like and where did you study?

MK: I was born in Lublin and that is where I  lived for the thirty years of my life. That was the city where I finished my school and where I later studied. I studied mathematics at the Maria Skłodowska Curie University in Lublin.

BC: What can you say about your first weeks at II LO in Poznań?

MK: To be honest, this school impressed me very much. The pupils are very nice, the teachers are very helpful. I think, I’ll be enjoying going to work for a very long time (laughing).

JB: Why did you choose to become a teacher?

MK: Mathematics was the first love of my life, I loved it since my childhood. When I was very young, my parents noticed that I have a special talent in it. I loved this subject for so many years, that I decided to connect my career with it. And I decided to be a teacher because I consider it a kind of a mission. Every human being has a mission and I guess my mission is to explain maths to this world.

JB: What are your hobbies and interests apart from mathematics?

MK: Well, I have several hobbies apart from that. One of them is linguistics, I like reading about languages- not only learning them but also reading about grammar of the language. I’m also keen on taking part in tv quiz shows. For example I took part three times in Jeden z Dziesięciu and I am willing to participate again next year. That can be a kind of hobby but also I like listening to music and reading about constellations.

BC: Do you prepare for the lessons or do you improvise?

MK: I think a good teacher has to mix these two methods. Mostly, I prepare for the lessons but you know- this is impossible to conduct a lesson exactly to your scenario. So sometimes it is necessary to improvise which I think, if done correctly, gives better results than a prepared lesson.

JB: How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

MK: Oh, that is hard (laughing). I can say I am punctual, tolerant and openhearted to my students.

BC: What advantages and disadvantages of teaching at high school can you name?

MK: Disadvantages: waking up early- I know everyone hates it, irregular time of work- other people go to work at 8 and finish it at 4 p.m while our work time depends on the schedule. I think there are way more advantages that disadvantages. First of all, meeting young people every day and the satisfaction + consciousness of opening up their minds and preparing them for adult lives and thinking for themselves.

JB: Why did you choose to teach at II LO and also why did you choose to teach in IB?

MK: My last school was one of the private high schools in Lublin which also offered a class with the IB programme. I tried to get into the II LO in Poznań because I saw it had a high place in the Perspektywy Ranking. Another reason why I opted for it was II LO also having IB programme. I thought that teaching in IB class would be a very valuable experience.  

BC: Can you see any differences between an IB-student and a non-IB student?

MK: I think there are not many differences. I think that saying that these students differ from each other a lot is a common misconception. The most important difference to be noticed is IB students taking a different look at their lives because they think about their future in a different way. I’m not saying their future will be brighter in any way but I guess that a teenager needs some kind of courage to take part in the IB programme.

JB: What advantages in the IB programme can you name?

MK: The main thing is that the topics that are taught are varied. You can find topics that are on the level of a regular school and you can find the academic-level topics.  And learning in English is definitely a challenge but it’s a challenge that is worth facing.

JB: Do you have specific plans for the future? Is teaching just a stage of your life or do you want to teach for years?

MK: I have a dream to teach for a long time. I also want to connect my teaching at high school with some kind of work at the university. I have started my PHD a few years ago but I had to suspend it for some time. I hope I could start it again at the Adam Mickiewicz University. So my plans for the future are these two things in general.

JB,BC: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure for us.

MK: My pleasure.