Old age of home teachers in the Kingdom of Poland 1815-1915

Prestige of the home teacher profession, and its popularity among the rich inhabitants of Poland during the 19th century. Study of the problem of preparing home teachers on the pages of the pedagogical press. Problems of home teachers in the mature age.

Рубрика Педагогика
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 10.05.2018
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У статті висвітлено престижність професії домашнього вчителя, її популярність серед багатих мешканців Польщі упродовж ХІХ ст. Учителі повинні розуміти бар'єри, пов 'язані з продуктивністю праці. Розкрито проблеми підготовки домашніх вчителів на сторінках педагогічної преси. Доведено, що найбільше проблем виникало у зрілому віці. В умовах відсутності пенсії, вчителі змушені заощаджувати упродовж усієї діяльності. Деякі з них стали членами різних асоціацій, які пропонували допомогу в останні роки життя. home teacher profession poland

Ключові слова: професія учителя, домашній учитель, Польща, пенсія, педагогічна преса.




В статье освещено престижность профессии домашнего учителя, ее популярность среди богатых жителей Польши на протяжении ХІХвека. Учителя должны понимать барьеры, связанные с производительностью труда. Раскрыты проблемы подготовки домашних учителей на страницах педагогической прессы. Доказано, что больше всего проблем возникало в зрелом возрасте. В условиях отсутствия пенсии, учителя вынуждены экономить на протяжении всей деятельности. Некоторые из них стали членами различных ассоциаций, которые предлагали помощь в последние годы жизни.

Ключевые слова: профессия учителя, домашний учитель, Польша, пенсия, педагогическая пресса.

Main text

The occupation of home teacher belonged to difficult and ungrateful ones. People undertaking these duties had to reckon with the fact that a strenuous intellectual, emotional and physical effort awaits them. Those who worked in the profession for many years and reached a mature age could not expect a well-deserved rest and relying on a pension from the authorities of the Kingdom of Poland, because they were not covered by the governmental pension law [11, p. 521 - 529]. In this situation home teachers had to work not only with the thought of every-day survival in mind, but also save money for the future. In many cases the amount of their earnings achieved from tutoring in private homes did not allow for making savings. Sustaining the family that many of them had was also an obstacle in securing means for the old age. Bitter and sad fate awaited people who lived by the illusions of a better occupation, rich marriage, and underestimated the aspect of subsistence at the old age. At the moment they reached the age that did not allow them to perform professional duties, they often found themselves destitute and homeless. Particularly susceptible to this were single women who had no families of their own, nor any relatives who could support them financially or take them into their own home. Then the remaining option was the shelter or another institution providing the assistance to the poor. Escaping poverty and hunger, one had to suppress in oneself the humiliation and shame, and ask for support [23, p. 398].

The interest in the problem of home schooling, including home teachers, has been observed from the 1970s. This matter was undertaken in their publications by, among others, Ryszard Czepulis - Rastenis (2), Zofia Chyra (1). Very important positions presenting new research on this issue are: «Nauczanie domowe dzieci polskich od XVIIl do XX wieku. Zbior studiow», edited by Krzysztof Jakubiak and Adam Winiarz (8), and «Zrodla do dziejow nauczania domowego dzieci polskich w XIX i pocz^tku XX wieku z bibliografi^ adnotowan^ pami^tnikow i wyborem literatury pedagogicznej», edited by Krzysztof Jakubiak, Grazyna Karlowska, Monika Nawrot, Adam Winiarz (25). The special position entirely devoted to this subject is the work authored by Monika Nawrot-Borowska (10).

From the presented state of studies, it can be concluded that until now no work has been completed dedicated to the home teachers in the Kingdom of Poland. This justifies the need of undertaking wider studies within this scope. Full representation of this issue will unequivocally enrich our modest knowledge about this professional group.

The aim of the article is to present the issue of old age of the home tutors, inclusive of showing what possibilities they had to obtain the pension benefits and in what way they secured their future. The basis source of the work is memoir literature. Complementing this literature is the press of the researched period, especially family journals, printed on the territory of the Kingdom, as well as educational legislation and pedagogical publications.

Based on the analysis of the archive sources and diaries, it is difficult to judge the issue of old age of the people involved in home schooling. The authors of the diaries provide information about the situation of these people, but as a rule, during their stay in the home of the employers. At a time when the teachers left it and went away, the trace of them was gone and it is impossible to establish how these persons fared in the future.

In view of the difficult situation of home teachers, the matter of their security in the old age was raised. In Act, dated 1841, this problem was, however, treated marginally. Article 82 only stated that the home tutors and teachers, as well as their families, have the right to apply for the assistance to the charitable institutions [7, p. 773]. The Act did not solve the problem with pensions. This matter was omitted in relation to women performing home schooling.

The needy home teachers in the 19th century could benefit from, inter alia, social loan funds, shelters for the poor, night shelters, housing accommodation and cheap diners. Help was also offered by Warsaw Charitable Society that created a social loan fund [21, p. 123 - 125; 24, p. 335]. In the situation where all loans taken on the territory of the Kingdom of Poland were high-interest, the initiative of the Society was incredibly needed. Warsaw Savings and Credit Fund [16, p. 108 - 110] operated with the similar spirit. On the territory of Warsaw, also the sleeping shelters were organised, as well as cheap diners, which directed their help to the needy. They functioned thanks to donors, sympathetic people. In order to collect funds for their activity, the concerts were organised; they were also supported by donors that funded heating and food products. Women and men willing to help personally volunteered to take shifts in serving meals. The night shelters opened in the winter were used by many residents of Warsaw and vicinity. Among them were young and elderly people, foreign and Polish women, representatives of various professions, including teachers [12, p. 407]. At the beginning of the 20th century in Warsaw a Committee for the Hungry was established. The goal of its activity was help for unemployed and destitute people. Food was handed out, accommodation was provided, but also possibility to earn money was offered [19, p. 62]. An important and needed institution of Warsaw was the Insurance Society. It ensured its members and their families a financial security in case of death or illness [18, p. 108]. People involved in home schooling could, since 1901, benefit from the Warsaw Savings and Loan Association for Teachers of Private Christians. Those who for many years worked in the profession and in the old age had no means to survive could use it. The members of the Association's Committee tried to help those most in need [15, p. 141]. Poor people could also seek the Warsaw Office of Exceptional Poverty, operating since 1870.

Listed institution only to a minute degree met the needs of elderly people in need, including home teachers. As a result, in the second half of the 19th century, the problem of securing their future was undertaken by the journals of the Kingdom of Poland. The pages of «Kronika Rodzinna» called for uniting women in associations. They were to come to aid to the elderly and those who found themselves in a difficult financial situation. Their activity focused around three objectives: material help for members - the payment of pension or one-time benefits, organising a home for lonely teachers, as well as moral and intellectual support. Feliksa Eger, the author of the association's project, proposed that the means needed to maintain it were supplied by teachers and other people who were willing to financially support it. Additional funds could be provided by organised on its premises exhibitions of women's works, market and service agency. The project assumed that the women who paid the contributions could become a member. The amount depended on the future pension. Therefore, in addition to one-off registration fee of 5 roubles, they were to incur the expense of 5 % annually of the amount of the future pension [3, p. 200]. The factor that was to be considered while determining the amount of the contributions was the age of a female teacher. The candidates entering the society above 30 years old were to incur charges 1 % higher, whilst those who were above 40 years old - 2 % higher [3, p. 201]. For proper functioning of the association in terms of finances, additional charges on late contributions were to be introduced. Hence the problem was raised of the deceased persons who acquired pension rights, but did not benefit from them. In such cases the association was to ensure the assistance to the family of the teacher, and especially to orphaned children. The retirement benefits were to be granted to women who worked in the profession from 15 to 35 years.

The issue of pension security of the home teachers was also undertaken by other magazines, including the «Opiekun Domowy». It also appealed for the help for women and men from this professional group [24, p. 202]. Similarly as in the project of F. Eger, it was recommended to direct help to people who wanted to save for the future pension and those affected by illness, disability or unemployment. The Editors of «Opiekun Domowy» deemed the matter of securing their future a serious issue, requiring immediate actions. Therefore, they appealed to influential people to make every effort to solve it. The journals of the Kingdom of Poland largely contributed to raising public awareness in this matter. The difficulties the home teachers had to face in the old age were unknown. It was not realised that these people, after years of hard work, are met with so many troubles in which they are reliant only on themselves.

First shelters emerged in the Kingdom of Poland at the beginning of the 19th century [3, p. 201 - 202]. In the 1880s those exclusively for female teachers began to appear. Among others, the pages of «Kronika Rodzinna» informed of establishing the shelter for female teachers in Warsaw. This initiative belonged to Agnieszka Helwichowna, former home teacher, who for this goal donated 500 roubles of her own money. The project was supported by the priest Zygmunt Chelmicki, who together with Gabriela Wrotnowska acquired additional funds [3, p. 39; 20, p. 434]. This institution was dedicated for both teachers of government and private schools, and home education female teachers who were elderly, sick or disabled, as well as those who found themselves in financial difficulties. The centre was maintained thanks to the teachers' contributions and donations of the wealthy. The organisers' objective was to unite as many people as possible working in this profession within the Association of female teachers. Its goal was to gather the capital that would constitute the main source of financial help for its members. The amount of a monthly contribution was not to exceed the amount charged for one lesson of the teacher [11, p. 400 - 403]. Initially, 12 boarders benefited from its services. At their disposal were a kitchen, bathroom, library and bedrooms. As finances allowed, it was planned to create a small chapel and first aid point [5, p. 39]. On the 14th June, the Act was approved relating to the objective and scope of this institution's activity [13, p. 14]. The goal of the Shelter was, among others, to provide care for female teachers who due to sickness or old age could not work. Article 3 stated that the people who did not contribute the annual payment of 150 roubles were deemed as renouncing the rights of the membership of the Shelter. The Act defined the conditions for admission to the Shelter. A member could be a woman who presented the following documents: confirmation she worked as a teacher, medical certificate of good health and a certificate of poverty verified by two people [20, p. 431 - 434]. Not all candidates seeking admission were accepted, as due to limited premises, their number was restricted.

Financial upkeep of these institutions was a task difficult to implement. The costs were to be covered by the teachers' contributions, but primarily by the donations from people of good will. The Editors of «Kronika Rodzinna», who monitored the situation of the Warsaw establishment, in 1883 announced its serious financial problems. Its maintenance required considerably larger cash measures than the money appearing on its account. The professionally active teachers themselves were called to support the institution. Many of these women did not realise that only their shared activity can bring a desired result. One of the forms of support to these centres were organised concerts, the proceeds of which were allocated for their benefit. However, such actions and activities did not always meet with a social interest. In this situation, in order to give them greater publicity, efforts were made to involve famous people, admired in the cultural world. B. Prus informed of one of such events for the shelter in the «Kroniki» [17, p. 51]. Organising such projects was exceptionally needed and necessary for the functioning of the institution. Its report from 1888 shows that its maintenance required significant financial measures. In 1887 there were 34 boarders; year later - already 75, but in 1889 there were 31. The institution was struggling with financial problems, as the sum of expenses exceeded the amount of income [22, p. 159 - 160]. The press of the Kingdom of Poland informed of the institutions functioning outside of its territory, at the same time popularising philanthropic activities, and mobilised their readers to join new initiatives [7, p. 105].

Boleslaw Prus, perfectly familiar with the efforts of a teaching job, repeatedly discussed the subject of securing the future of the people working in this occupation [15, p. 141; 18, p. 109 - 110]. On the press pages, also the interested parties complained. One of the female teachers emphasised a difficult position of her companions. In particular, she criticised the attitude of the rich, who financed many charitable causes, but forgot their situation. According to her, one shelter for female teachers functioning in Warsaw was not enough to solve the problems of those working women. She appealed to other teachers to initiate the actions aiming to help and unite in societies. The teachers argued that it was difficult for them to make any savings for the future whilst supporting a family and, at the same time, having a low salary. Some emphasised that with age the potency of the teachers diminished and it was increasingly difficult for them to perform professional duties. Therefore, they held a view that they should be rewarded better, thanks to which they could, after twenty years of work, have a well-deserved rest and support themselves with the accumulated savings. But often unfair opinions were issued in the matter of securing the teachers' future. It was claimed that the teachers them-selves were responsible for their poverty in the old age, as they sometimes lived day to day, without thinking ahead about the future [9, p. 143].

Material security in the old age was the most difficult problem the home teachers faced. Philanthropic institutions were not able to help everyone who asked for assistance. Most people involved in home schooling had to independently save money to survive when professionally inactive, and thus live very frugally. Sometimes they sought the support among relatives, after the difficulties of work, and in such a way they made arrangements for their final years of life. Living with the family was humiliating, but often constituted the only option in the face of approaching the old age.


1. Chyra Z. Nauczyciele prywatni (1795 - 1807), in: J. Leskiewiczowa (Ed.), Spoleczenstwo polskie XVIII i XIX wieku, Warszawa: PWN, 1974, Vol. VI, pp. 7-41.

2. Czepulis-Rastenis R. Klassa umyslowa. Inteligencja Krolestwa Polskiego 1832 - 1862, Warszawa: Ksi^zka i Wiedza, 1973, 417 p.

3. Eger E. Slowko o stowarzyszeniu nauczycielek, Kronika Rodzinna, 1873, № 13, pp.200-201.

4. Instytucyja Maryi von Kramsta dla weteranek stanu nauczycielskiego, Przegl^d Pedagogiczny, 1888, № 9, p. 105.

5. Kronika Tygodniowa, Tygodnik Ilustrowany, 1882, № 342, p. 39.

6. Krz. M. Schronienie nauczycielek, Kronika Rodzinna, 1880, № 15, pp.400-403.

7. Najwyzej zatwierdzona ustawa dla instytutow naukowych prywatnych, gu- wernerow i nauczycieli domowych 18 I 1841, Zbior Przepisow Administracyjnych Krolestwa Polskiego. Wydzial Oswiaty, Warszawa: J. Goldman, 1868, Vol. V, pp.739-791.

8. K. Jakubiak, A. Winiarz (Eds.), Nauczanie domowe dzieci polskich od XVIII do XX wieku. Zbior studiow, Bydgoszcz: Wydaw. Akademii Bydgoskiej im. Ka- zimierza Wielkiego, 2004, 368 p.

9. Nauczycielka. O polozeniu nauczycielek, Przegl^d Pedagogiczny, 1896, № 8, p. 143.

10. Nawrot-Borowska M. Nauczanie na ziemiach polskich w II polowie XIX wieku i pocz^tkach XX wieku - zapatrywania teoretyczne i praktyka, Bydgoszcz: Wyd. Uniwersytetu Kazimierza Wielkiego, 2011, 574 p.

11. P.S. Emerytura nauczycielska, Encyklopedia wychowawcza, Warszawa: Sklad Glowny Gebethnera i Wolffa, 1885, Vol. III, pp. 521-529.

12. Po kolei. Z nocnego przytulku, Biesiada Literacka, 1883, № 417, p. 407.

13. Poklosie, Klosy, 1888, № 888, p. 14.

14. Poklosie, Tygodnik Ilustrowany, 1881, № 830, p. 335.

15. Prus B. Kronika tygodniowa, Tygodnik Ilustrowany, 1906, № 52, p. 141.

16. Prus B. Kroniki, Warszawa: Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1955, Vol. 5, 648 p.

17. Prus B. Kroniki, Warszawa: Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1959, Vol. 8, 619 p.

18. Prus B. Kroniki, Warszawa: Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1963, Vol. 13, 579 p.

19. Prus B. Kroniki, Warszawa: Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1968, Vol. 18, 611 p.

20. Schronienie nauczycielek w Warszawie, Kronika Rodzinna, 1882, № 14, pp.431-434.

21. Silva rerum. O kasach pozyczkowych, Kronika Rodzinna, 1878, № 4, pp.123-125.

22. Sprawozdanie schronienia dla nauczycielek za rok 1888, Przegl^d Peda- gogiczny, 1889, № 14, pp. 159-160.

23. Tyszkowna J. Nauczycielka a wakacje, Dziecko, 1914, № 7, p. 398.

24. W sprawie opuszczonych, Opiekun Domowy, 1873, № 26, p. 202.

25. K. Jakubiak, G. Karlowska, M. Nawrot, A. Winiarz (Eds.), Zrodla do dziejow nauczania domowego dzieci polskich w XIX i pocz^tku XX wieku z bibliografi^ adnotowan^ pami^tnikow i wyborem literatury pedagogicznej, Bydgoszcz: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Kazimierza Wielkiego, 2005, 374 p.

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