21 February 2023

HTT executive director in a press interview: The student-teacher relationship will no longer be a hierarchical one

Justyna Pokojska, an executive director of HTT and Ph.D. in sociology, gave an extensive press interview for the "Dziennik Polski" newspaper. In it, she talks about the role of the teacher in a modern school and what the COVID-19 pandemic has changed (or, rather, accelerated) in education.

Author: Maria Mazurek,


Teachers should wish their students were smarter than them, is one of the strong sentences expressed by Justyna Pokojska in an interview with journalist Katarzyna Kachel. The HTT director believes that such an attitude – in which the teacher does not pretend to be omniscient, omnipotent, and infallible – allows both sides to develop. Teachers can learn a lot from their students as long as they are open to the transformation coming in education. – I believe that the student-teacher relationship will no longer be hierarchical. I believe that the time will come for such relationships, in which the teacher will give the student a sense of agency, and the educational process will be his independent, teacher-supported pursuit of knowledge,” explains Justyna Pokojska.

Teacher as a midwife

HTT executive director compares the role of the teacher in today’s (and tomorrow’s) school to that of an “intellectual midwife” who, as in the case of Socrates or Plato, accompanies the student in his intellectual development, supporting and provoking him to ask questions and acquire knowledge on his own. – A teacher should be a guidepost, a mentor,” she explains.

Especially in today’s era of instant access to technology and knowledge, gathered on sites like Wikipedia. – A teacher today can be quickly checked and exposed (…). This, of course, is not necessarily comfortable for him, but it has to be domesticated (…). We have the opportunity to create authority on other foundations, for example, by showing students how to think critically,” she says.

She points to her own academic experience as an example (Justyna Pokojska, apart from being the executive director of HTT, is also a university teacher): I often encourage my students to look up the name of the author or the title of a book for me on the Internet during class. Does this take anything away from me? I include them in the process, making them feel empowered, part of the lecture, and active, she says.

Knowledge and competencies

In the interview, the HTT leader also talks about what schools should teach. Today it’s no longer only subject knowledge but also soft and transformative skills.

Those who are expected to see this necessity and have the power to make it happen are, first and foremost, teachers. Of course, systemic solutions are also part of the educational transformation, but in the end, it is teachers who have the most significant influence on the student’s education. – The core curriculum is set top-down, but how it is implemented is mainly up to the teacher, she explains.

Justyna Pokojska, at the same time, points out that it’s not that we need to replace the staff. We need a “rearrangement,” first of all, in our heads.

Justyna Pokojska, HTT executive director

The pandemic effect

The “pandemic effect” also resounded in the interview. Before March 2020, technology in education was just in its infancy. While the world around was changing, schools – even if equipped with modern laptops or other technological facilities – hardly seemed to notice it.

Teachers were suddenly forced to teach online, something a large number of them had never done before. They usually quickly found that not only were they capable of doing it, but they also derived satisfaction from it. Moreover, students also had to acquire new skills quickly, undergoing an intensive course in managing their home learning.

– Covid has thrown us out of the established order, the familiar rhythm. And a little chaos or uncertainty usually leads to development, she explains the phenomenon.

You can read the complete interview with Justyna Pokojska at this link: https://plus.dziennikpolski24.pl/justyna-pokojska-nauczyciel-powinien-byc-jak-akuszerka/ar/c15-17297467