U. Markowska-Manista1, D. Zakrzewska-Oledzka2

1University of Warsaw (POLAND)
2The Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw (POLAND)
Polish school praxis seems to be oriented mainly towards the needs of a homogeneous environment, which Polish society has been in recent decades. At present, in times of growing globalization and increasingly more intensive migrations (inside and outside the European Union), Polish society is becoming more heterogeneous. Like the population of the country, the school community is also becoming more diverse in terms of culture, religion, ethnic or national affiliation of students. This makes it necessary to both raise teachers’ and university students’ (prospective teachers) openness to work with and in culturally, linguistically and nationally mixed groups, and to adapt the entire system of solutions so that they could take into account the needs of students with a different cultural context and with diverse educational needs.

Available research shows the helplessness of teachers and lack of institutional support to deal with this challenge in Poland. Nevertheless, further initiatives are gradually appearing, aiming to better prepare prospective teachers to use the educational potential of interculturality in the educational and linguistic context and to support current school staff in non-discriminatory preparation to work oriented towards a children rights approach. In the article, we will refer to the results of research carried out on the group of 80 teachers from primary schools in Poland in the years 2015-2017, all of whom had the experience of working with children with diverse cultural context. The interviews focused on dealing with the presence of those pupils, due to their position perceived by teachers as “Others” in comparison to Polish students.

We will further discuss the specifics of the situation of two main groups of such students present in the Polish educational system (refugee and migrant background students, R&MBS) and point to the main differences between these groups to analyze the major challenges and fears experienced by teachers. Teachers’ narrations inscribed in the dominant migration crisis discourse in Poland enable a better understanding of the complicated (multidimensional) educational situation of R&MBS in Polish schools and show the varied voices and approaches among those teachers who attempt to implement the assumptions of inclusive education.