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How to conduct an educational project in Gimnazjum ?

Artykuł w języku angielskim po¶więcony praktycznej realizacji projektu edukacyjnego w gimnazjum zatytułowanego "Czy Halloween ma szanse na stałe zagościć w polskim kalendarzu?". Artykuł ukazuje krok po kroku realizację projektu oraz wnioski.

Four years ago Polish gimnazjum teachers faced the duty of conducting an educational project. It is obligatory for all the students and aims to solve a particular problem with the usage of various methods. This article describes the process of realization of the project titled "Are there any chances for Halloween to stay for good in a Polish calendar?". This project was created and carried out in gimnazjum in Suchedniów. It was accessed as the best one and consequently presented to other learners as the example to follow.



In Gimnazjum in Suchedniów an educational project is conducted during the second year of learning. It seems to be the best time for several reasons. Firstly, students know each other quite well. What is more, they also know the teachers. Finally, they aren't under "the pressure" of final exams yet, which enables them to work on the project effectively.
In October the students are introduced with the list of the teachers who will be the projects' supervisors. Each teacher submits a proposal of the project's subject, which is visibly displayed on the school's noticeboard. Then the learners form groups (which have from four to six people, not necessarily from the same class) and choose their supervisor. At their first meeting the final version of the subject is approved. Then a supervisor presents project's objects. Students work on a project from October to May and public presentation is taken in June.


At the first meeting a project group (which consisted of four girls and the author of article as a supervisor) agreed on the subject of the project, made detailed plan and divided tasks to work on. Generally, the work on the project was divided into the following stages:

1. Collecting data about history, roots and customs of Halloween.
2. Preparing the brochure about Halloween traditions.
3. Diagnosing similarities and differences between British Halloween and Polish All Saints Day.
4. Diagnosing shops' offer to see if anything connected with Halloween is obtainable.
5. Investigating Polish mass media around the time of Halloween to see what information they present.
6. Searching for Halloween parties in Suchedniów area.
7. Conducting a "trick or treat" experiment.
8. Preparing a survey about the perception of Halloween in Suchedniów.
9. Analyzing a survey and making conclusions.
10. Making a multimedia presentation about the project.
11. Baking Halloween cookies.


Due to the date of Halloween a lot of work was done by girls in October. The realisation of the project led to the results described below.
Firstly, girls collected data about the history and the roots of Halloween. One of the concepts assumes that Halloween has its origins in Celtic traditions. Two thousand years ago in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France people said good bye to summer and welcomed winter. Other theory suggests that the 31 st October was the day when ghosts of deceased visited the Earth. In order to frighten them off people wore scary costumes. The same function was served by blazing turnips, which nowadays have transformed into Jack-o'-lanterns.
Secondly, the participants of the project prepared the brochure presenting countries where Halloween is most widely celebrated. It was hand - made from colorful cardboard with photos and hand written information about ways of celebrating Halloween traditions.
What is more, girls tried to compare Halloween and All Saints Day. They came to the conclusion that both have something in common, namely joyfulness. It is just a stereotype that All Saints Day is one of the saddest one. In reality, catholic church commemorates nameless saints, thus is full of hope that everyone has a chance to become saint after their death.
Another step of the project included investigation of local shops and their Halloween's offers. It occurred that there was nothing to buy in Suchedniów, besides a popular supermarket where buyers could obtain pumpkins and chocolates. There was a larger range of Halloweens' products in a nearby town-Skarżysko-Kamienna, but again only in nationwide supermarkets.(see photo)
As far as the media are concerned, girls analyzed the press, television and the Internet and made several observations. When it comes to the press, local newspapers did not pay any attention to the traditions of Halloween. The participants of the project did not find any articles in some of national newspapers either. Television paid a little more attention to Halloween, for example viewers could watch an interview with a priest who criticized Halloween. Moreover, "scary" movies were broadcasted on children channels. Many references to Halloween was on the Internet, particularly associated with graphics. The users had a chance to see many traditional symbols like pumpkins or ghosts.
When it comes to Halloween parties there were none in Suchedniów. However, in nearby towns (Skarżysko, Kielce) several where organized, like for example Halloween disco in a club or films' marathon in a cinema. Girls checked that many events took place in the capital of Poland including those for small children.
One of the most important parts of the project was "treat or trick" experiment. On the 31st of October girls disguised themselves as witches and ghosts and went in search for sweets. At this point, a remark about Suchedniów and its inhabitants should be made. It is a small town (about nine thousand citizens) in Świętokrzyskie region. People here live typically in detached houses. They form rather traditional community with strong relation to traditional values. Nevertheless, the participants of the project were warmly welcomed in most of the houses. However, opposite attitude of residents is best presented in their literal statements: "Halloweeny ido", "dajta mi spokój", „dziekuję, proszę zamknąc furtkę", „my nie uznajemy tego swieta", „przyjdźta w pasterkę", „na co zbierata", „a co to Halloween?", „co to ma ta za zdobycze?". Nonetheless, girls collected quite big amount of sweets (see photo)
Another crucial stage of the project was the preparation of a survey. In order to do it girls used theoretical knowledge they gained while collecting data, observing mass media and doing the experiment. The survey consisted of the following questions:

1. Have you ever heard about Halloween?
a) yes b) no
2. Halloween is an equivalent to All Saints Day.
a) yes b) no c) no opinion
3. Halloween derives from:
a) Celtic philosophies b) American culture c) Ancient Times
4. Has anyone ever knocked to your doors asking for sweets?
a) yes b) no
5. Underline each sentence which you agree with:
a) Halloween is a pagan celebration which shouldn't be celebrated by Christians
b) Halloween is the occasion for having a good fun
c) Halloween is a celebration good only for children
d) Halloween is a celebration like many others celebrations
e) Halloween is the occasion for organizing a party
f) Halloween is indifferent to me
6. I would like Halloween to be celebrated in Poland?
a) yes b) no c) it is indifferent to me
7. How old are you?
a) less than 20 years old b) more than 20 years old
If you are under 20 years old please answer the following questions:
8. I would like to play "treat" or "trick" in my town
a) yes b) no c) no opinion
9. I'd like to participate in Halloween parties
a) yes b) no c) no opinion

The analysis of the survey's results gave the following conclusions: most respondents in Suchedniów have heard about Halloween (75%) and 83% of them think badly that it is the equivalent to All Saints Day. The answers about the roots of Halloween were generally divided into: Celtic philosophies (47%) and American culture (42%). Younger respondents (less than 20 years old) reflected that it is a great fun (78%), thus they would also like to take part in Halloween style parties. On the contrary, an older generation considered Halloween as pagan festival which shouldn't be celebrated by Christians (64%). As one could presume, almost nobody experienced Halloween personally due to the fact that not many people undergone " trick or trick". Surprisingly, most individuals were also indifferent to Halloween in general, which means they feel nor fear or enthusiasm to this celebration.



The project was presented in June. The participants showed in a multimedia presentation the most important aspects of their work (see "the plan" described above) and its results. What is more, to make the presentation more vivid and "Halloween -like" they disguised themselves as witches. Moreover, they decorated the area of presentation with Halloween costumes and leaflets, not to mention Jack-o'-lantern. At the very end, girls treated the audience with cookies shaped as witches' fingers, which they had prepared themselves (see photo).


The project described above was conducted according to the common rules, which are specified in the Regulation of the Ministry of Education. Therefore it consisted of the following stages: formulating a subject and the objectives of the project, planning stages of its implementation, the implementation of planned activities and public presentation of the results. Participation in the project has also brought the achievement of specific goals. The most important ones were: gaining the knowledge of the history of Halloween, the ability to use and process diverse sources of information, the skill to create and analyze surveys, ability to draw conclusions, not to mention the social skills like working in a group, sharing responsibilities and self-discipline.
The project: "Are there any chances for Halloween to stay for good in a Polish calendar?" was for the participants an attempt to play a role of a researcher of a local culture. It was done due to a survey and "trick or treat" experiment. These tools enabled the participants to examine local community and to diagnose its reactions and attitudes towards English culture phenomena. Research results, for obvious reasons, cannot be representative for the whole Polish society though they show tendencies which are probably characteristic for it. Namely, while an older generation rather manifests hostility, a younger is prone to accept this celebration. Whereas in big cities Halloween parties are becoming more and more popular, traditional communities, which are tied strongly to established values do not accept this celebration. It is relatively easy to understand as 31st October is so close to All Saints' and Souls' Days. These days in Polish culture are always associated with reflection and seriousness, thus Halloween's joy seems to be distant from these standards. On the other hand, when we look at young people, who nowadays sometimes tend to deny traditional values, we cannot be sure if Halloween not settle in a Polish calendar. Yet, 25 years ago nobody heard about Valentine's Day...

Magdalena Wrońska-Kołda
Gimnazjum w Suchedniowie

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