Educational Patterns of Polish Immigrants to New York

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Education has also taken on more importance. Where a primary education was deemed sufficient for males in the early years of the twentieth century— much of it done in Catholic schools—the value of a university education for children of both sexes now mirrors the trend for American society as a whole. A 1972 study from U.S. Census statistics showed that almost 90 percent of Polish Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 had graduated from high school, as compared to only 45 percent of those over age 35. Additionally, a full quarter of the younger generation, those between the ages 25 and 34, had completed at least a four-year university education. In general, it appears that the higher socio-economic class of the Polish American, the more rapid is the transition from Polish identity to that of the dominant culture. Such rapid change has resulted in generational conflict, as it has throughout American society as a whole in the twentieth century.


Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942), a pioneer of cultural anthropology, emphasized the concept of culture in meeting humankind's basic needs; he taught at Yale late in his life, after writing such important books as Argonauts of the Western Pacific and The Sexual Life of Savages in Northwestern Melanesia. Linguist Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950), born in Warsaw, came to the United States in 1918; his work in linguistics focussed on the power of the different value and meaning of words in different languages in an effort to reduce misunderstanding; he founded the Institute of General Semantics in 1938 in Chicago, and his research and books— including Manhood and Humanity and Science and Sanity—have been incorporated in modern psychology and philosophy curricula as well as linguistics.