many years, Poland had struggled to keep alive an independent intellectual
life, free from censorship and official restrictions. The original
'Flying University' in Poland began in 1883. There were no campuses,
land or buildings, and each class was held in a different private
apartment, hence the name 'flying university'. It was an alternative
to the official academic teachings of the day, which were inevitably
distorted by all sorts of suppressions, taboos, and lies, especially
in the social and human sciences.
offered some of the first opportunities for women in Warsaw and
Eastern Poland to attend higher education, and women made up about
70% of the student body. Between 1883 and 1905, about three thousand
women received diplomas there. One of the Flying University's more
famous students was Marie Sklodowska Curie, the first woman to receive
a Nobel prize, who studied sciences there after graduating from
high school in 1883.
were available to anyone regardless of gender or social status,
but differed from those in regular universities in that they promoted
self-directed learning because of the difficult conditions for instruction.
In the 1905 revolution, it was made semi legal and became known
as the Towarzystwo Kusow Naukowych (Society for Scientific Courses).
names "flying university" and "TKN" were also
used from October 1977 to June 1979. Then, it gave lectures mainly
on law, economy, politics and sociology, but no diplomas were given.
One of the purposes of this second flying university was to prepare
people for the political changes that were expected to occur.
greatest illegal educational activity took place during the Second
World War (1939-1945). A full educational system was created underground,
consisting of elementary, middle and university levels. This system
worked parallel to the official educational system.
in illegal lessons was dangerous - one expected capital punishment
or getting sent to a Konzentrations Lager. There were also many
technical difficulties, since lessons were organised under utmost
secrecy. The main aim of the "Tajne Nauczanie" ("Secret
Teaching") was to prepare educated people for life after the
war. It was important as Poland's then-enemies (Germany and The
Soviet Union) senselessly killed the best scientists and educated