30 June 2023

Searching for the purpose of education. ET Market 2023

The English Teaching Market 2023 took place in Stare Jabłonki on June 26-28, 2023, bringing together more than 300 teachers. Holistic Think Tank was the event's partner and its special guest. Members of our team and HTT co-workers led several sessions and workshops promoting the idea of IDS (Interdisciplinary School Subject), which truly thrilled educators.

Author: Maria Mazurek,


HTT's members and co-workers. From left: Nick Covington (from Human Restoration Project, US), Maria Mazurek, Edyta Kłeczek (IDS Ambassador), dr. Anna Grabowska, dr. Justyna Pokojska

What is the purpose of education? – this question resounded at ET Market not only during sessions led by HTT fellows but also by other distinguished guests: pedagogues, teacher trainers, and education researchers.

We found that Polish teachers completely align with HTT’s mission: a school for the 21st century should care not only about passing on knowledge but, first and foremost, about shaping humanistic values, such as curiosity, empathy, cooperation, and communication. Also, or even primarily, in the face of new technologies and the development of Artificial Intelligence.

The Holistic Think Tank’s 10-point list of “What School Ought to Teach” and IDS (Interdisciplinary School Subject) indicate both the goal and the path of schooling.

Access to the best

English Teaching Market, organized by the Nida Foundation, is the largest of its kind conference for educators in Poland: every year, it gathers several hundred English teachers from villages and towns with up to 20,000 inhabitants. The goal is simple: to train pedagogues, inspire them and show them solutions that will change the face of the schools where they teach.

The organizers provide participants with a rich program and access to excellent education specialists. This year, one of the special guests at ET Market was the Holistic Think Tank. Our team members and co-workers – including Nick Covington from the Human Restoration Project, an organization from the US that is a partner and grantee of HTT – led many workshops, presentations, and lectures.

The feedback from the teachers present at the event on HTT’s mission and activities was extremely positive. We heard repeatedly: This is exactly how schools should work. We managed to “infect” further educators with our flagship activity: Interdisciplinary School Subject (IDS), which aims to bring a human dimension back to schools worldwide.

HTT activities

Nick Covington from the Human Restoration Project, one of the HTT’s overseas partnership organizations responsible for implementing IDS in schools abroad, flew from the US for the Stare Jabłonki conference exclusively.

At ET Market 2023, he led three sessions on the need to humanize education, presenting a set of inspirations for conducting lessons using the IDS method. It was in his lectures, among others, that the question was raised: what is the purpose of education? Significantly, teachers did not answer that transferring knowledge or only talked about it very next. More common was the answer that the purpose of education is to raise responsible, sensitive, and cooperative people, but also – to shape the whole society and influence the world’s future.

Nick Covington from HRP, accompanied by Dr. Anna Grabowska, during one of his sessions

An opportunity to familiarize teachers with the idea of the Interdisciplinary School Subject (IDS) and its methodological tools was also provided by a workshop jointly led by two IDS ambassadors: Edyta Kłeczek (who teaches English at the school) and Dr. Joanna Górecka (who in turn is Polonist).

Eyta Kłeczek, using the example of a lesson on the life of bees, showed how to engage students, stimulate their curiosity, encourage cooperation, but also teach and entertain at the same time.

Edyta Kłeczek
Participants studying the tasks proposed by Edyta Kłeczek

Dr. Joanna Górecka, on her part, encouraged teachers to move away from schematic, traditional thinking about education and replace it with innovative, creative methods based on respect for the student. She showed, for example, that learning at school can be carried out through the game method.

Dr. Joanna Górecka

Dr. Anna Grabowska, HTT’s Educational Program Manager, also led an interesting workshop with lots of practice. Dr. Grabowska took on dialogue: as a way of life, but also of teaching. She discussed with the participants the features and advantages of such a way of communication, and paid attention to the role that not only facts, but also emotions and needs play in communication.

Dr Anna Grabowska during her workshop session

It was a Good Day

Exceptionally fruitful was the screening of the HTT-produced film “Good Day,” which took place at the very end of the three-day conference in the main plenary hall. It was attended by all ET Market 2023 participants.

The “Good Day” movie

The screening of the film was preceded by a lively, well-received speech by Dr. Justyna Pokojska, HTT’s Executive Director, who briefed the teachers on the Holistic Think Tank’s mission, the IDS program, and the “What School Ought to Teach” list.

Dr. Justyna Pokojska, HTT’s Executive Director

Searching for the purpose

It wasn’t just HTT that provoked questions at the conference about the goal of education. Prof. Jacek Pyżalski, a distinguished pedagogue (and member of the HTT Scientific Board), also asked about the purpose of education, pointing out that in the era of Artificial Intelligence and the rapid changes occurring in the world, it is all the more critical that we nurture humanistic values in schools. – If we believe that more than just didactic mastery is important in education, then we are safe, he said.

Prof. Jacek Pyżalski

Conscious educators (and such participate in similar events) have no doubt that both the school and the teachers themselves are at a crossroads. For too long, schools have relied on the 19th-century model. Change is inevitable.

They want to be part of that change. IDS (Interdisciplinary School Subject) may be the signpost, but also the path itself and, ultimately, the destination. The interest that HTT received during ET Market shows that it is a good destination.