Keynote speech “Patriotism in education and teaching” in Kielce, Poland

An Editorial of mine based on my keynote speech at the conference has come out in the journal of Forum of EthnoGeoPolitics of which I am the executive editor.

See: ‘Patriotism and Brutality vis-à-vis Nationalism, Ethnicity and other Identity Formations’ (Editorial) Forum of EthnoGeoPolitics Vol.2 No.2, Autumn 2014, pp.5-19.

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I held the Keynote Speech at a Conference on 10-11th October 2014 by the Centre of Patriotic and Civic Reflection in Kielce, Poland, with the Department of History of the Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce, on:

“Patriotism and the problem of education and teaching: The role of teaching modern history in building patriotism and citizenship”

Location: Auditorium of Jan Kochanowski University. The conference is designed  for teachers of history, teachers of social studies and educators.


The program includes:

three lecture sessions

1 What is the history for? What is patriotism for?

2 How to teach history?  How to teach patriotism ?

3 What kind of patriotism is needed by modern Poland?

two workshop sessions :

How to develop civic skills in school? How to realize patriotic education in school?

one discussion: Ministers of Education about teaching patriotism.


Friday, October 10th, 2014

9.00-9.50 AM registration of participants


10.20-11.10 AM opening lecture (transl. to Polish): Caspar ten Dam, Leiden
University: Patriotism, loyalty and honor: normative and empiric
reflections on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ forms of patriotism.

Short informal abstract:

Simply put, patriotism is just one’s readiness to defend one’s home – ranging from one’s personal and family homestead to one’s village or regional community, all the way up to the homeland i.e the (nation-)state one happens to live in. One’s patriotic duty to defend one’s chosen home and homeland may concern one’s place of birth – but not necessarily so. It may concern one’s loyalty to a newfound host home, nation or other locality after for instance emigration and intermarriage.

Therefore, patriotism may, but may not necessarily equal tribalism, ethnicism and/or nationalism. In other words, patriotic identity may concern loyalty to an other locality, tribe, nation and/or state than one’s own by birth. Essentially, patriotic loyalty may concern the host nation and not one’s original fatherland. In essence, patriotism, good patriotism, is all about repaying the hospitality of the place one happens to live in by defending that place with one’s life if need be from internal and/or external aggression and other dangers (terrorism, gangsterism, etc).

More often, however, patriotism is based on ethnic, civic and other nationalist self-identifications with one’s place of birth. This often leads to intolerance, discrimination and excessive violence against the internal and external ‘other’ in either defensive or offensive (including across-border aggressive) operations. Such extreme, bad patriotism, whereby the end supposedly justifies the means, is a typical cause and manifestation of brutality and brutalisation i.e increasing violation of local and/or international norms of violence (own concept and definition; see my research on this phenomenon).

Still, for instance militant nationalism is not always bad patriotism, as long as it refrains from human rights violations. Conversely, even defensive patriotism may have a just cause but vilifies, effectively betrays, that cause if it employs brutal, arguably immoral means. For instance, a foreign aggressor may have an unjust cause (and thus no proper jus-ad-bellum) but may fight decently according to the laws of war (proper jus-in-bello). The defender thus certainly has a right cause – defense of the home(land) – but may use wrong means, like executing, mistreating or torturing prisoners of war. By now it should be obvious to the reader: the end does NOT justify all possible means – cruel and other arguably immoral means sooner or later vilify even the noblest end.

I will give some examples from the theoretical and empirical literature, with cases from especially Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.

11.10-12.50 AM 1st LECTURE SESSION: What is history for? Why do we need

Moderator: prof. Adam Massalski

11.20-11.50 AM prof. Boguslaw Sliwerski: Education face to face with

11.50-12.20 AM prof. dr hab. Janusz Grzelak: RÛzne tozsamosci, rÛzne

11.50-12.20 AM prof. Janusz Grzelak: Different identities, different

12.20-12.50 AM prof. Tadeusz Slawek: Is (every) patriotism a virtue?

12:55 AM ñ 1:45 PM DINNER

1.45-4.05 PM 2nd LECTURE SESSION: How to teach history? How to teach

Moderator: prof. Boguslaw Sliwerski

1.50-2.20 PM prof. Antoni Dudek: Specificity of teaching modern history ñ
opportunities and threats.

2.25-2.55 PM prof. Jolanta Choinska- Mika: Tell or talk about modern
history. .

3.00-4.30 PM prof. Dariusz Stola: Teaching history outside school desk ñ in

3.35-4.05 PM Boguslaw Woloszanski: History can be a passion.


SOBOTA, 11.10.2014 r.

Saturday, October 11th, 2014 11th

11.00 AM – 2.30 PM 3rd  LECTURE SESSION: About patriotism  and citizenship.
What kind of patriotism does Poland need?

Moderator: prof. Ryszard Gryz

11.05-11:30 AM prof. Andrzej Nowak: Patriotism or alternative postulates.

11.35-12.00 AM Alicja Pacewicz: It matters how and what we are teaching.

12.05-12.30 AM prof. Adam Massalski: Patriotism and civic activities in The
Polish Scouting and Guiding Association ñ formerly and today.

12.35 AM – 1.00 PM Krzysztof Zanussi: When I think – patriotism.

1.05-1.30 PM Father Jacek Salij OP (Dominican): And why should I ever love
my Homeland?

1.35- 2.00 PM dr Olga Napiontek: Young people ñ everyday citizens.

2.05- 2.30 PM Jan Englert: Devalued values?

2.30- 3.25 DINNER

3:30-4:45 Panel discussion: Ministers of Education about teaching

Moderator: Father Tomasz Dostatni OP (Dominican)


prof. Henryk Samsonowicz

prof. Miroslaw Handke

prof. Ryszard Legutko

prof. Ryszard Czarny


The Centre of Patriotic and Civic Reflection in Kielce, which exists since August 2012, is the initiative of local government and citizens of Kielce. It is situated in an old prison in one of the oldest prisons in Poland. Our goal is to develop respect for national traditions, creating a pattern of modern patriot-citizenship and initiating patriotic and civic sensibilities among the youth . In our offer ( classes , workshops, education trials , competitions, events) have already benefited over 20 thousand  people.