British Studies Web Pages

The Countryside


Starbienino - An Example of an Investigation

Petr Fejt (the Czech Republic) and Janusz Papaj (Poland) carried out this investigation in the village where the summer school took place.

Teachers wishing to carry out investigations either in Poland or the UK can find some methodological advice here.

The Kaszubian countryside - a place to live or leave?

We spent several days in the Polish countryside and decided to explore the local area and the issues local people face (work, transport, tourism, leisure, schooling and migration of people). We tried to compare and contrast their views with those of foreigners. If you are interested in the countryside, you can read what we have done and also use the activities as an inspiration for further work.

Activity 1: Read the description of the place (see below), look at the photographs and the map of the village. Can you make some predictions about the way of life in the village? What issues might be important for the people? What kind of landscape might you expect to see around the area?

Description of the place:

Starbienino (70 km north-west of Gdansk) is a very small village consisting of about six houses and the Kaszubian Folk Education Centre where we were staying. There are no other buildings (e.g. school, church or a pub) but there is a windmill near the village. The nearest town is Choczewo, which is 5 km away. If you want to know more about the history of the place read what Marek Byczkowski, the manager of the Kaszubian Folk Education Centre says:

We interviewed two British people about their impressions of the countryside around Starbienino. Both of them admitted to having had little experience of the Polish countryside. Michael Houten had spent two years in Poland but mostly in urban areas, and Francis Eaves-Walton had spent only seven days in Poland. Their knowledge of local problems must have been very limited . Here are some excerpts from the interviews (slightly adapted).

Activity 2: Look at the interview excerpts and think of what issue is dealt with in each case. You can choose from the following :
  • migration of people
  • tourism
  • schooling and transport
  • impressions of the countryside/landscape
  • leisure time and social contacts
  • work

We also interviewed some local people who know the area very well. Marek Byczkowski is the manager of the Kaszubian Folk University in Wieżyca and its branch in Starbienino. Beata Stodolna is a teacher in primary and secondary schools in Choczewo. Click the links to find out about the opinions by Beata and Marek.

Activity 3: Can you make a list of the issues/problems mentioned by the interviewees? Can you compare them with the views of the two British people (above)?

To give you more information about the area, we have included two interviews that show different views of the life in the village:

Activity 4: Can you look at the interviews and compare their views? Are they optimistic or pessimistic about the situation now and in the future?

Activity 5: Has the information about Starbienino which you have just read changed your way of thinking about the countryside? What conclusions have you come to after reading the passages?


If you would like to do a similar project with your students, it is particularly interesting to explore an area which they do not know, because they can learn something new about the place and the people living there. Before exploring the countryside, you might tell your students to think of a rural area in your country and its issue/problems.

If you do not have enough computers in your school, you can prepare handouts for your students (you can include the description of Starbienino, the views of the two foreigners and also the local people) and follow the activities 1-5. If you do not have enough time in the classroom, you can skip some activities.

Produced in Poland by British Council 2003. The United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.