The humiliated began to sing

How teachers on strike tried to teach society




protest songs, teachers’ strike, social media pedagogy, popular education, radical education


In this article, the protest songs of teachers on strike were analysed as a traditional pedagogical tool of popular education, social movements, and trade unions. An important context for this was the commodification of the entertainment market, expectations towards the teaching profession, and the state of musical competencies in the population. By identifying what the essence of teaching in the teachers' protest songs was, recommendations for making these activities more educational and politically more effective have been presented. The songs might have played a role in the demise of the strike, in the specific political context, described in the paper. Using the comparisons of teachers to animals by the teachers themselves was a common, but risky tactic.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Piotr Kowzan, University of Gdansk, Poland

Piotr Kowzan is an assistant professor at the Department of Didactics and Education of Adults,  at the Institute of Pedagogy, University of Gdansk. His research interests centre on education of adults and consist of pedagogy of debt, social movement learning and children participation in protests. 



Blommaert, J., & Bulcaen, C. (2000). Critical discourse analysis. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 2000., 29, 447–466.

Bodene-Yost, Z. (2013). The Danish Folk High School and its Presence in the U.S.: The Failure of the Danish-American Folk High Schools vs. the Success of Highlander Folk School. The Bridge, 36(1), 74–89.

Bohlman, A. F. (2016). Solidarity, Song, and the Sound Document. The Journal of Musicology, 33(2), 232–269.

Buckley, C. G. & Bowman, B. (2021). Not (just) a protest: the Youth Strike for Climate as cultural exchange and collaborative text [Research Report]. British Council.

Butterwick, S., & Roy, C. (2020). Finding Voice and Engaging Audiences: The power of Arts-Based Community Engagement. In B. Grummell & F. Finnegan (Eds.), Doing Critical and Creative Research in Adult Education (pp. 89–99). Brill Sense.

Cervinkova, H., & Rudnicki, P. (2019). Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, Authoritarianism. The Politics of Public Education in Poland. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 17(2), 1–23.

Choi, S. Y. P. (2020). When protests and daily life converge: The spaces and people of Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement. Critique of Anthropology, 40(2), 277–282.

Esteve-Faubel, J. M., Martin, T. J., & Esteve-Faubel, R. P. (2019). Protest songs about the Iraq War: An effective trigger for critical reflection? Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 14(2), 179–195.

Everhart, K. (2012). Cultura-Identidad: The Use of Art in the University of Puerto Rico Student Movement, 2010. Humanity & Society, 36(3), 198–219.

Eyerman, R. (2019). Protest Music in the Age of Trump. Books & Ideas.

Eyerman, R., & Jamison, A. (1991). Social movements: A cognitive approach. Pennsylvania State University Press.

Eyerman, R., & Jamison, A. (1998). Music and social movements: Mobilizing traditions in the twentieth century. Cambridge University Press.

Fairclough, N. (2006). Discourse and Social Change. Polity Press.

Halibutt. (2006). Contour map of Poland [Image]. Wikipedia.

Hall, B. (2006). Social movement learning: Theorizing a Canadian Tradition. In T. Fenwick, T. Nesbit, & B. Spencer (Eds.), Contexts of Adult Education: Canadian Perspectives (pp. 230–238). Thomson Educational Publishing.

Haynes, L. (2008). From Vietnam to Iraq: A content analysis of protest song lyrics of two war periods. ??????. 10, 247-261.

Horton, M., & Freire, P. (1990). We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change. In B. Bell, J. Gaventa, & J. Peters (Eds.), Amerasia Journal. Temple University Press.

Hurner, S. (2006). Discursive identity formation of suffrage women: Reframing the “Cult of True Womanhood” through song. Western Journal of Communication, 70(3), 234–260.

Johnson, B., & Cloonan, M. (2009). Dark side of the tune: Popular music and violence. Ashgate.

Kipnis, A. B. (2015). Agency between humanism and posthumanism Latour and his opponents. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 5(2), 43–58.

Knupp, R. E. (1981). A time for every purpose under heaven: Rhetorical dimensions of protest music. Southern Speech Communication Journal, 46(4), 377–389.

Kosokoff, S., & Carmichael, C. W. (1970). The rhetoric of protest: Song, speech, and attitude change. The Southern Speech Journal, 35(4), 295–302.

Langdon, J., Jackson, M., & Kitcher, S. (2020). Pedagogy of song and restorying hope. In B. Grummell & F. Finnegan (Eds.), Doing Critical and Creative Research in Adult Education (pp. 167–176). Brill Sense.

Majzner, R. (2018). Wiedza muzyczna absolwentów szkó? ?rednich – kandydatów na nauczycieli wczesnej edukacji [Musical knowledge of high school graduates - candidates for early education teachers]. Zeszyty Naukowe Wy?szej Szko?y Humanitas. Pedagogika, 16, 235–246.

Prusinowska, M., Kowzan, P., & Zieli?ska, M. (2012). Struggling to unite: the rise and fall of one university movement in Poland. Interface: a Journal for and about Social Movements, 4(1), 327-359.

Roy, C (2002). The Transformative Power of Creative Dissent: The Raging Grannies’ Legacy. In: O’Sullivan, E. V., MOrrell, A., & O’Connor, M. A. (Eds.), Expanding the boundries of transformative learning (pp. 257-271). Palgrave.

Scandrett, E. (2014). Popular Education methodology, activist academics and emergent social movements: Agents for Environmental Justice (action note). Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, 6(May), 327–334.

Smoli?ska-Theiss, B. (2019). Teacher in the face of educational change – from service to resistance. Pedagogika Spo?eczna, 37(3), 309–324.

Stolarski, M., Fieulaine, N., & van Beek, W. (2015). Time Perspective Theory; Review, Research and Application. In M. Stolarski, N. Fieulaine, & W. van Beek (Eds.), Time Perspective Theory; Review, Research and Application. Springer.

Suchecka, J. (2022, January 14). Afera mailowa i strajk nauczycieli. "Zostan? dobici i poni?eni fal? hejtu". [The e-mail scandal and the teachers' strike. "They will be finished off and humiliated by a wave of hate"]. TVN24.

Toolan, M. (1997). What is critical discourse analysis and why are people saying such terrible things about it? Language and Literature, 6(2), 84–103.

Vlieghe, J., & Zamojski, P. (2019). Towards an ontology of teaching: thing-centred pedagogy, affirmation and love for the world. Springer.

Wagner, J. (2020). Resisting performativity measures through local activism: A critical exploration of the 2019 polish teacher strike. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 18(3), 1–28.

Westerman, W. (2005). Folk schools, popular education, and a pedagogy of community action. In E. T. Ewing (Ed.), Revolution and Pedagogy: Interdisciplinary and Transnational Perspectives on Educational Foundations (pp. 107–132). Palgrave Macmillan. (2019, April 9). Prezes PiS og?osi? program „500 z? na ka?d? krow?”. Zobacz najlepsze memy! [The party leader of PiS announced the program "500 z? for each cow". See the best memes!].

ZNP (2019, April 10). Strajkuje 74,29% szkó? i placówek. [74.29% of schools and institutions are on strike]. Zwi?zek Nauczycielstwa Polskiego.

?uk, P. (2020). One Leader, One Party, One Truth: Public Television Under the Rule of the Populist Right in Poland in the Pre-Election Period in 2019. Javnost - The Public, 27(3), 287–307.




How to Cite

Kowzan, P. (2023). The humiliated began to sing: How teachers on strike tried to teach society. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 14(1), 125–143.