Przemysław Staroń

High School no. 2, Sopot, Poland

Przemysław  Staroń

As a child, Przemysław loved learning about the world – a pleasure comparable only to sharing this knowledge with others. Searching for a fulfilling life path, he eventually chose to study psychology, and later narrowed his specialism to education and training. When he finally graduated, his counsellor wrote him a reference that said: “Being a teacher would be the highest honor for a person like you.” He realised that he had chosen the right path.

Przemysław teaches philosophy, ethics, history of art and culture – subjects that are often undervalued despite being essential for a rounded education. Various challenges in Polish society make a philosophical approach highly valuable. For instance, psychological care in schools is insufficient and professional help is often considered a symptom of weakness or failure: the result is that Poland has the second-highest juvenile suicide rate in Europe, with attempts almost doubling between 2011 and 16. Hate speech has also become more common, with young people twice as susceptible: since 2016 there has been a strong deterioration in attitudes towards all minority groups.

Przemysław’s key innovation has been founding the intergenerational philosophical society The Order of the Phoenix, which brings junior and senior students together to learn philosophy, discuss life issues and help each other. With recognised educational methods, philosophical tools, creative techniques and social media, he has developed an original approach to teaching and learning using everything from board games to Lego blocks. He has also supported the teaching profession by sharing knowledge at international conferences, TEDx and small-scale workshops for teachers. 40 of his students have now won the Olympiad of Philosophy in Poland, and the school is now ranked among the top institutions in the country on this measure. The result is that Przemysław has been recognised with several awards, including Man of the Year from the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, Poland’s Teacher of the Year 2018, and the President of Sopot’s Award (2014, 2019).

With the Global Teacher Prize funds, Przemyslaw intends to develop his Order of the Phoenix society in Poland, Europe and around the world over the next ten years. To do so, he would develop scalable, replicable educational methods for the society, conduct research on their effectiveness, share the results widely among the profession, and invite finalists and past laureates of the Global Teacher Prize to spread the word.