Friday, 28 April 2017

Little suitcase in the attic

My father had a call from the association representing the dwindling number of women who had during the war been in the Szkoła Młodzych Ochotniczek (SMO - in English, the Polish Young Women's Auxiliary Service School). Next month sees the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the school in Nazareth, then Palestine. The association is commemorating the event with an exhibition in the Polish military museum (Muzeum Wojska Polskiego), and asked my father whether my late mother had left any memorabilia from her time at the SMO.

We went up into the attic, and there, stored in a thick plastic bag, a small suitcase of WW2 vintage. I took it down, hoovered the dust off it. The suitcase, made by Papworth Industries for the war effort, was a utility model with a single lockable clasp, with leather reinforced corners and a khaki canvas cover.

Opened up, it shows basic wooden construction and plain brown paper lining.

Inside the suitcase, there were 16 of my mother's exercise books from when she was at the SMO, all filled in in her own hand - maths, history, Polish literature, English.

Below: English grammar lessons. This would have been from the time when my mother was around 16 or 17 years old. [See this post for more about my mother's wartime journey.]

The exercise books revealed to me the strengths and weaknesses of the Polish educational system - a high degree of rote learning, memory-intensive work, learning sophisticated texts and mathematical and scientific formulae without too much attempt to understand or gain meaningful insight into what was being taught. The lack of doodles or other personal touches suggest a high degree of discipline.

Once again, I can see that blending the best of the Polish system (a strong foundation based on memorising facts, rigorous classroom discipline) and the British system (interpreting those facts, tutorial- rather than lecture-based learning) would provide optimal educational outcomes.

This time last year:
Evening moods, springtime, around Cleveland Park

This time four years ago:
Spring flooding in Jeziorki

This time six years ago:
I need a new laptop. But which one?

This time eight years ago:
In search of the sublime aesthetic

This time nine year ago:
Ducks in Ogród Saski

This time ten years ago:
Should I stay or should I go?

No comments: