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From the introduction to the Polish documentary on Zbigniew Alexandri Pelcyznski. (see below for computer translation)
Bohaterem filmu jest prof. Zbigniew A. Pełczyński, w młodości żołnierz powstania warszawskiego, dziś filozof polityczny, emerytowany naukowiec i działacz społeczny lub – jak to sam określa – “przedsiębiorca społeczny”. Dwukrotnie ranny w walkach w stolicy w 1944 r., na krótko przed upadkiem powstania dostał się do niewoli i trafił do obozu jenieckiego koło Bremy. Siedem miesięcy później, pod koniec kwietnia 1945 r., obóz został wyzwolony przez Amerykanów. Młody Pełczyński wstąpił do brytyjskiej armii, by dalej walczyć. Pragnął też studiować. Miał szczęście: wraz z kilkoma innymi kolegami z AK trafił na uniwersytet St. Andrews w Szkocji. Specjalizował się w filozofii politycznej, w 1951 r. przyjął brytyjskie obywatelstwo i otrzymał etat naukowy na uniwersytecie w Oksfordzie. Dobrze czuł się w Wielkiej Brytanii, cenił i lubił tamtejsze obyczaje, kulturę, ludzi. Wrósł w swoją drugą ojczyznę. Jak powiada, “zrepolonizowała” go dopiero “Solidarność”. W początkach III Rzeczpospolitej był doradcą Sejmu i URM, ale nie odniósł na tym polu wielkich sukcesów. W 1994 r. zakończyła się więc jego kariera doradcy, lecz po kilku latach intensywnej działalności w Polsce nie chciał wracać do spokojnego życia emerytowanego wykładowcy i swego domu na angielskiej wsi. Zainicjował współpracę między uczelnią w Oksfordzie i Uniwersytetem Warszawskim, stworzył system stypendialny dla studentów z Polski. W 1994 r. założył też Szkołę Liderów, która w ciągu 10 lat funkcjonowania przekroczyła granice Polski: w jej zajęciach coraz liczniej uczestniczą bowiem także młodzi ludzie z Ukrainy czy Gruzji. Celem szkoły jest kształtowanie postaw i stanu świadomości charakterystycznych dla otwartego społeczeństwa obywatelskiego, przygotowywanie młodych kadr zdolnych rządzić krajem, lokalnymi społecznościami, dużymi firmami – ludzi otwartych, kreatywnych, elastycznych, umiejących korzystać z cudzych doświadczeń. Opowieść o prof. Zbigniewie Pełczyńskim nie jest typowym filmem biograficznym, choć wiele w niej szczegółów z życiorysu bohatera, wyjaśniających, jakie wydarzenia i czynniki kształtowały jego postawę życiową, wpływały na jego wybory, skłoniły go do podjęcia określonych działań. To raczej filmowy esej, w którym losy tytułowego “lidera” stanowią punkt wyjścia do refleksji zarówno historycznych nad postawami powstańczego pokolenia, jak i tych całkowicie współczesnych, dotyczących reformy oświaty, a zwłaszcza szkolnictwa wyższego, możliwości kształtowania liderów społecznych i intelektualnych. Licznym stypendystom z Polski uniwersytet oksfordzki stworzył warunki, jakich nie był w stanie zapewnić im rodzimy uniwersytet. Losy i działalność prof. Zbigniewa Pełczyńskiego poznajemy z jego relacji, a także z wypowiedzi ludzi, którzy go znają prywatnie lub współpracują z nim: prof. Leszka Kołakowskiego, prof. Jerzego Kłoczowskiego, Bolesława Taborskiego, Timothy’ego Gartona Asha, Elizabeth Frazer, Johna Adaira, prof. Jana Krzysztofa Bieleckiego. Z kolei polscy stypendyści Oksordu i zatrudnieni na tej prestiżowej uczelni młodzi naukowcy z Polski, m.in. dr Marcin Walecki, dr Grzegorz Plebanek, dr Wiktor Maciejewski, Piotr Drag, Agnieszka Grodzińska czy Witold Czartoryski mówią o pozytywnych stronach systemu stypendialnego stworzonego przez prof. Pełczyńskiego, i ogromnych możliwościach, jakie otworzyły się przed nimi wraz z przyjazdem do Oksfordu. Absolwenci Szkoły Liderów, tacy jak Adam Krzanowski z Krosna, swoją pracą na rzecz miasta i jego mieszkańców, dowodzą natomiast praktycznej przydatności takich kursów. [TVP]
Courtesy of Google Translate:
The protagonist is prof. Zbigniew A. Pełczyński, in his youth a soldier of the Warsaw Uprising, today, political philosopher, a retired scientist and social activist or – as he describes – “social entrepreneur.” Twice wounded in the fighting in the capital in 1944., Shortly before the fall of the uprising he was captured and was sent to a POW camp near Bremen. Seven months later, in late April 1945., The camp was liberated by the Americans. Young Pełczyński joined the British army to continue fighting. Also he wanted to study. He was lucky: along with several other colleagues from AK went to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He specialized in political philosophy in 1951. Adopted British citizenship, and received time researcher at the University of Oxford. Well felt in the UK, valued and liked rustic customs, culture and people. He has grown into his second motherland. As he says, “zrepolonizowała” it with “Solidarity”. At the beginning of the Third Republic was an advisor to the Sejm and the URM, but did not comment on this area of great success. In 1994. So he ended his career counselors, but after several years of intense activity in Poland does not want to return to the quiet life of a retired teacher and his home in the English countryside. Initiated the cooperation between the university at Oxford and the University of Warsaw, he created a system of scholarships for students from Polish. In 1994. He founded the School of Leaders, who during 10 years of operation exceeded the limits Polish: in her classes growing numbers participate because the young people of Ukraine or Georgia. The aim of the school is to shape attitudes and awareness characteristic of an open civil society, preparation of young talent able to govern the country, local communities, large companies – open-minded, creative, flexible, able to benefit from other people’s experiences. The story of a professor. Zbigniew Pełczyński is not a typical biopic, although many of the details from the biography of the hero, explaining what events and factors shaped his attitude in life, influenced his choices led him to take certain actions. It is rather a film essay, in which the fate of the title “leader” constitute a starting point for reflection on the attitudes of both the historical insurgent generation, as well as those completely contemporary, for the reform of education, especially higher education opportunities to shape social and intellectual leaders.
Numerous Polish fellows of Oxford University has created the conditions under which he was not able to provide them with native university. Fate and activity prof. Zbigniew Pełczyński know of his relationship, as well as the statements of people who know him privately or cooperate with it: prof. Leszek Kolakowski, prof. George Kłoczowski, Boleslaw Taborski, Timothy Garton Ash, Elizabeth Fraser, John Adair, prof. Jan Krzysztof Bielecki. On the other hand, Polish scholars Oksordu and employed in this prestigious university, young scientists from Polish, among others Dr. Marcin Walecki, Dr. Gregory Plebanek, Dr. Victor Maciejewski, Piotr Drag, Agnieszka Grodzińska whether Witold Czartoryski talk about the positive sides of the scholarship system developed by prof. Pełczyńskiego, and huge possibilities opened up before them, with the arrival to Oxford. Graduates of the School of Leaders, such as Adam Krzanowski from Krosno, his work for the city and its inhabitants, demonstrate while the practical usefulness of such courses. [TVP]
Fig. 1. End of Year 2012 Anti-smoking TV commercial and campaign
If you find the current anti-smoking ads powerful, in which a cigarette grows a life-like tumour as it is smoked, then imagine what the word ‘disembowel’ conjures up?
I do not suggest that you Google the word as I did wanting to correct my spelling ‘disembowl’ – which, if defined the way I spell it might mean nothing more challenging that taking a bowl out of a cupboard, or away from a child who is playing with their breakfast i.e. to dis-embowl, as you might disembark from a ship.
I deliberately offer neither a link, nor an image.
It shocked me that even I could so naively stumble upon a picture gallery of such horrific proportions courtesy of the word ‘disembowel’ that includes CCTV footage of road accidents as well as the aftermath of murders, killings and war zone collateral damage. I am now forever damaged. My mind will run amok with these pictures forever – to scrub them out of my mind will require cognitive behaviour therapy and hypnosis.
If I ever need to put my teenage children off the idea of riding on a motorbike, or getting a motorbike of their own I know what Google search will will put them off, potentially keep them off a pedal bike too. I’ve now seen what happens when a truck hits a stationary motorbike that is waiting to take, in this instance, a left turn off a main road. The two words ‘road kill’ sum it up.
I believe in the power of images – for advertising and for learning purposes.
I believe that the more genuine the image, however contrived and constructed, in its appropriate context – the more memorable the facts, events and circumstances are as a force to inform or educate. I believe also that where this image is animated, live or as live video, with both visual and auditory clues, the more powerful it becomes.
The police don’t show reconstructions of traffic accidents to drunk or reckless drivers – they show them the real thing.
I discussed the above with my teenage son in the best possible place to hold a 14 year old’s attention – driving home.
He was open enough about stuff he will have seen online – at least as far as YouTube out takes of tricks gone wrong on motorbikes that have resulted in injury. I can’t watch this kind of thing on TV if I know someone is likely to have been hurt – I broke my leg very badly in one of these stupid pranks age 13 so I know the silliness has consequences.
We talked about how much his generation are exposed to that makes his parents look naive.
For the most part I believe they form a sensible opinions because their experiences and what they come across is ‘socialised’ and in a supportive context – they talk to their friends, their friends siblings dip in and yes, words of wisdom and ignorance from the rest of us is chucked into the mix. A middle and reasonable point of view is, I hope, developed.
Will he ever get on a motorbike? I hope not. Will he even try a cigarette? Probably not. Will he makes mistakes? Yes, just so long as it isn’t in a car on a busy road.
We still have very elderly relatives who know what it is like to face death for days and weeks on end (Warsaw Uprising, POW, concentration camp internees on release or as moved … ) and my own grandfather, long gone, who survived as a witness to 20 months of first hand experience in the trenches of the Western Front as a machine gunner (April 1916 to December 1917) – he spared me the detail when I sat on his knee as a six year old, but as a 30 year old recording his memoir he was happy to elaborate – the memory vivid enough for him to break down in tears 75 years after the event – including a mate who was disemboweled and took more than a few hours to die of his wounds in a dug out on the edge of the Passcendaele front in later October 1917.
The danger is always the person who is not ‘socialised’ in the community and so their views can be tempered by advice …
Or if that person’s views are going way out of line they are somehow brought to the attention of social services or some such before they find weapons and go out to play not-so-merry havoc.
- Teen killed in motorbike crash (nzherald.co.nz)
- Stolen car hits police motorbike (bigpondnews.com)
- Tumour grows from cigarette in shocking new Govt anti-smoking ad (thesun.co.uk)
Zbigniew Pelczynski listens as former students remark on his life as a Pembroke Fellow, Hegelian Scholar, founder of the School of Leaders, Warsaw. And as the author, David MacAvoy listens too having authored the biography ‘A life remembered’ in which we learn how Zbyshek grew up in Warsaw in the 1930s, took part in the Warsaw Uprising and came to Britain where he studied Philosophy at St.Andrews, then wrote his D.Phil at Oxford where he remained teaching at Trinity, Balliol and Merton before a long stay at Pembroke. Never one to retire, he established the School for Leaders, Warsaw twenty years ago.
Dr Pelczynski remained in London after his presentation to fly out to Warsaw for a second book launch and attend meetings at the School of Leaders – Zbyshek is in his 88th year.
Copies of the biography can be obtained from Pembroke College at the following address:
The main College switchboard number is:
Read cover to cover yesterday, into the evening and small hours. I’m now onto the second read, with various notes to add, references to pursue and further research to undertake.
Yet to be published, I’ll give detials in due course of how to get your hands on a copy.
Why read ‘A Life Remembered’ ?
It’s a fascinating life story from surving the Warsaw Uprising as a teenager to achieving as an Academic and educator in England, Scotland then at various leading universities around the world while pursing various interests and causes with passion and dogged determination. A life lesson? I think so.
A journey across the country to visit family. I find my 85 year old father-in-law translating some Polish to complete a voice over for YouTube clip the Warsaw uprising. This his son tells me is recorded onto his Netbook and edited using Audacity.
For the next hour we discuss how leadership might be taught online.
He is 85 today. My wife and celebrate 17 years of marriage. I reflect on knowing the family for 26 years, a younger sister introducing me to her older brother being introduced to the parents and then some years later discovering there was another sister with whom it turns out I developed a soft spot.
After dinner I sit with my sister-in-law’s partner, who lectures/tutors fine art, art history and philosophy. It is well after midnight before we tire. I had thought of pressing the record button on the digital recorded I have with me; tomorrow. I recall that their use of technology so far includes little more than tutorials by mobile phone; which has its conveniences.
He put the kibosh on my thinking regarding the commercialisation of education which I conclude is fine for corporations where you are an employee and the company is the client, but not for the freedom to think what you please, indeed without the scope to innovate how would be progress.
Or something like that.
I suppose had I recorded the lengthy discussion I could at least quote him correctly.
But wouldn’t recording such a discussion have sullied it?