A primary school in Warsaw has become the first school in Poland to ban complaining.

Staff at Primary School no. 143 erected a sign at the entrance door that reads “No Complaining” (Zakaz Narzekania) in an effort to encourage optimism among students, teachers and parents on its premises, reports TVN24.

The head of the school, Krystyna Jakubowska, is keen to stress the ban was symbolic, and not enforced. Instead, it is meant to act as a way of encouraging healthier thinking among students.

“We are reminding ourselves to look at what is good, what is positive, and not complain,” one teacher, Aneta Purchała, told TVN24.

Students often complain about an excessive numbers of tests and too much homework. They have also been known to moan about food in the canteen, particularly the celery salad, said another teacher, Agnieszka Trepkowska, speaking to Radio Zet.

The school is also a participant in the “Reawakening School” programme, which promotes positive changes in education, including teaching without grading and removing competitive aspects of schooling. Teachers are also encouraged to build relationships with students.

Poles often see complaining as a national characteristic, and even something positive, notes TVN24. Complaining is “a very persistent Polish image,” says Adam Leszczyński, a sociologist at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw.

“If someone says [things are] wonderful – I bought a car, I’m going on a trip – that person is perceived badly, even disliked,” says psychologist Marek Juraszek. But someone complaining is often regarded positively, he adds.

However, Poles now complain less than they used, says Leszczyński, perhaps because standards of living are improving. And there could be a trend towards “teaching optimism”. Another primary school, in the city of Tychy, is set to introduce a similar ban on complaining, reports TVN24, and others could follow.

Main image credit: Alan Turkus/Flickr (under CC BY 2.0)

Juliette Bretan is a freelance journalist covering Polish and Eastern European current affairs and culture. Her work has featured on the BBC World Service, and in CityMetric, The Independent, Ozy, New Eastern Europe and Culture.pl.

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