- Flying University
The institution is now known as the Society for Educational Courses ("Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych").
The purpose of this and similar institutions was to provide Polish youth with an opportunity for an education within the framework of traditional Polish scholarship, when that collided with the ideology of the governing authorities. In the 19th century, such underground institutions were important in the national effort to resist
Germanizationand Russification, respectively, under Prussian and Russian occupation. David Palfreyman(ed.), Ted Tapperm, "Understanding Mass Higher Education", Routledge (UK), 2004, ISBN 0-415-35491-9, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415354919&id=riv0UCM90AMC&pg=PA142&lpg=PA142&dq=%22Flying+University%22+Russification&sig=MVJ6bK6melK1V8sj4ofeJTSULto Google Print, pp. 141–142] .] In the communist People's Republic of Poland, the Flying University provided educational opportunities outside government censorshipand control of education. Barbara J Falk, "The Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe: Citizen Intellectuals and Philosopher Kings", Central European University Press, 2003, ISBN 963-9241-39-3, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN9639241393&id=ZsR0CGdWCC0C&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=%22Flying+University%22&sig=zu4Z2HAP8GfIWsG2aRUz0tCuyPo Google Print, p. 42] .]
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealthwas partitioned in the late-18th century, its lands were divided among its neighbors: Imperial Russia, Prussiaand Austro-Hungary. Warsaw, the historic Polish capital, fell under Russian control. In the Russian and Prussian partitions the situation of Poles progressively worsened. Particularly in the Russian sector, the initially moderate ethnic policies were revised in the aftermath of the Polish revolts aimed at overthrowing Russian control, the November Uprising(1830–1831) and the January Uprising(1863–1864). Following the defeats of the uprising the autonomy of the Congress Polandwas initially limited (1831) and finally abolished (1865).
Among the increasing policies of
Germanizationand Russification, it became increasingly difficult for Poles to obtain a Polish higher education. Also, like in most parts of Europe at the time, the higher education opportunities for women that existed in Russian Empire were severely limited Christine Johanson, "Women's Struggle for Higher Education in Russia, 1855–1900", McGill-Queen's Press, 1987, ISBN 0-7735-0565-2, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0773505652&id=B_BfKgWKDy8C&pg=PA23&lpg=PA23&dq=Polish+women+education+Russian&sig=abGkPXvchVcMsiA3WI5s4nm15vY Google Print, p. 23] ] , and teaching or research into some fields, like Polish language, Catholicismor Polish history, ranged from difficult to illegal Abraham Ascher, "The Revolution of 1905: A Short History", Stanford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8047-5028-9 [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0804750289&id=rNRqfGWR4pIC&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=Russification+education+Poland&sig=2Ua-OiKEPlnUKEOlh-2wV-s4gqo Google Print, p. 47] .] Peter Brock, John Stanley, Piotr J. Wróbel, "Nation And History", University of Toronto Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8020-9036-2, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0802090362&id=lzWHDEE6OqkC&pg=PA7&lpg=PA167&vq=Flying+University&dq=%22Flying+University%22+Russia&sig=ohWu6FpIyJQ3a2H30v_qOmJ77XA Google Print, p. 7] .] .
As a response to such policies
Peter Waldron, "The End of Imperial Russia, 1855–1917", Palgrave, 1997, ISBN 0-312-16537-4, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0312165374&id=gvLExy_Z3PsC&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=%22Flying+University%22+Russia&sig=bsfJl76F6_L2kXVC9TQCQcAm43Q Google Print, p. 120] .] , and inspired by the Polish positivismmovement Brian Porter, "When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth-Century Poland", Oxford University Press US, 2002, ISBN 0-19-515187-9, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0195151879&id=qSWJ5WGSmJgC&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=%22Flying+University%22+Russia&sig=b6iawQ_KLGuN0A8Evie2v7KOXbk Google Print, p. 85] .] , secret courses began in 1882 in private houses in Warsaw. At first it was a series the conspiratorial education courses for women, and among the first teachers were Józef Siemaszko, Stanisław Norblin, Piotr Chmielowskiand Władysław Smoleński. In 1885 transformed due to the efforts of one of the students, Jadwiga Szczawińska Betty Jean Lifton, "The King of Children: The Life and Death of Janusz Korczak", St. Martin's Press, 1997, ISBN 0-312-15560-3, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0312155603&id=cuK1wyWayOoC&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35&dq=%22Flying+University%22&sig=2g91WxdFeB6AxkWU-cBBOG7ZeS8 Google Print, pp. 35–40] .] (also known as Zofia Szczawińska Margarita Diaz-Andreu, "Excavating Women: A History of Women in European Archaeology", Routledge (UK), 1998, ISBN 0-415-15760-9, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415157609&id=RcsI5IvpocMC&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=%22Flying+University%22&sig=ya4wbGwpLlcWNg3GloCLVxW1z2M Google Print, p. 88] .] ), the various pro-education groups were united into a single, informal, and illegal, secret university open for both sexes known as the Flying University (the courses, spread throughout the city, often changed locations to prevent the Russian authorities from learning the location and arresting the teachers and students). The fees (2–4 rubles per month) were used as gratification for the teachers, and to create a secret library. The curriculumof the Flying University covered 5–6 years with 8–11 hours per week and was divided into four main subjects: social sciences, pedagogy, philologyand history, and natural sciences.
Among the teachers of the university were the best contemporary Polish academics, such as Władysław Smoleński and
Tadeusz Korzon(history), Bronisław Chlebowski, Ignacy Chrzanowskiand Piotr Chmielowski (literature), Jan Władysław Davidand Adam Mahrburg(philosophy), Ludwik Krzywicki(sociology), Józef Nussbaum-Hilarowicz(biology). Norman Davies, " God's Playground: A History of Poland", Columbia University Press, 1982, ISBN 0-231-05352-5, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0231053525&id=DMoPXktGwiUC&pg=PA235&lpg=PA235&dq=%22Flying+University%22&sig=mALqwAUSy_O2qqrHk66FWLkiYKM Google Print, p. 235] .]
During the twenty years of the existence of the university, it courses were attended by approximately 5,000 women and thousands of men. Among the most famous of its students was the future
Nobel Prizewinner, Maria Skłodowska-Curie. Other well known students included Zofia Nałkowskaand Janusz Korczak.
Around 1905–1906 the Flying University was able to start legal activities, and was transformed into the Society of Science Courses ("Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych"), as Poland's partitioners, anticipating the coming war, sought to convert the Poles to their cause. Around 1918–1919, after Poland regained independence (as the
Second Polish Republic), the Association was transformed into the private university, Free Polish University(Wolna Wszechnica Polska). In 1927 it founded a branch in Łódź.
World War II
Second World War, when Poland was occupied by Nazi Germanywhich forbade Poles to attend university-level courses, many teachers of the Flying University used their experience and took part in secret teaching during World War II.
After the Second World War, the Wolna Wszechnica Polska was not immediately recreated in Warsaw, although its branch in Łodź served as the foundation for the
University of Łódź.
During the time of communist domination in the
People's Republic of Poland, as the curriculum became a tool of politics, and much of Polish history(like Polish-Soviet War, Katyn Massacreor Praga Massacre) was censoredin an attempt to 'erase' the history of Polish-Russian conflicts Marc Ferro, "The Use and Abuse of History: Or How the Past Is Taught to Children", Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-415-28592-5, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0415285925&id=hDkeOWop9TsC&pg=PA259&lpg=PA259&dq=Suvorov+ordered+Praga&sig=dhghhzzFYdX1oAGaMx8ZoTQDsMI Google Print, p. 259] .] , the tradition of the Flying University was revived once again, first by the Society of Free Polish University (Towarzystwo Wolnej Wszechnicy Polskiej) active in Warsaw from 1957, later from 1977 by the new Flying University and Society of Science Courses, supported by Polish dissidents: Stefan Amsterdamski, Andrzej Celiński, Bohdan Cywiński, Aldona Jawłowska, Jan Kielanowski, Andrzej Kijowski, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Wojciech Ostrowski.
Many participants of this second flying university were abused by
militsiya, with common incidents like a prominent dissident, Jacek Kurońbeing thrown down the stairs or his apartment ransacked by militsiya-supported thugs; despite such harassment the Flying University was active until the imposition of martial law in Polandin 1981, designed to destroy Solidaritymovement, stifled its activities too. With Solidarity's peaceful victory in the Polish legislative elections, 1989, the goals of the Flying University — the freeing of Polish education from party's control and censorship — have been achieved.
Polish University in Exile
*Polish|Uniwersytet Latający|1 August 2006
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