The article reflects on the changes and developments of the pedagogical views on activism, participation and engagement in Poland. In the tradition of Polish social pedagogy there are some key elements that have influenced the way various educators see their role in shaping the participatory aimed education. The Author reminds that not only current models of education for democracy play important part in shaping social activism in the country, but also the ancestry of rich Polish experience, amalgamated from specific historical, cultural, political, social and pedagogical roots and traditions. The variety of these models as well as the tensions between the past, the present and the future, influence today’s difficulty seen among activists to rely on some common identity that would help them be recognized in the society as promoters of engagement. This, in turn, puts in question their role in social education development.