Lecture 1 with Dr. Nagy

On Monday, January 7, 2012 we went to a lecture by Dr. Nagy, a distinguished scholar, on the history of education in Hungary. He lectured on the history of Central Europe and how the history related to the educational system of Hungary. I felt as if he lectured to us as if we were his class. He began his lecture by informing us he was going to speak in Hunglish, a combination of Hungarian and English. (Although, I though it was more like just English.) He also informed us he does not like using powerpoints in his lectures and would just be speaking to us. This was not new to me, as I have had professors who prefer to lecture without powerpoint. Although the majority use powerpoints, have handouts or write on the board as a way to help the students keep up and stay oriented with the lecture. Personally, I find powerpoints to supplement the lecture. They help me to follow along and most of the time contain visual cues and aids. Being a visual learner. this is really helpful for me, but I was able to follow along because I was interested in the subject. He included maps of Europe over the years as a visual aid, which was helpful for me. Dr. Nagy covered the history of Hungarian Education from the 1600s to the 1950s.

I was expected to learn more about how the present day educational system in Hungary works and what it entails but I believe learning the history is a good foundation. When Dr. Nagy started off his lecture with the history of Hungary in the 1600s and how it pertained to their educational system I immediately thought, “What do I know about the history of education in America?,” and the answer was not much. America is not as old of a country as Hungary so granted it will not have as much history. As I racked my brain throughout the lecture and asked questions after the lecture, more came to mind.

If you were to sit in on this lecture without having heard it was about the education system in Hungary, it would not be surprising if you were to guess this was a history lecture on the governing religion Hungary has had since the 1600s. I had no idea religion played such a large role in education. During the reformation. The Catholics wanted separation from the Protestants.The Society of Jesus or Jesuits was formed and this order began to control every European educational system. It was not until the late 18th century when the Society of Jesus was expelled from all Lutheran countries by the Catholics and Protestants. Up to this point all of the educational systems in Hungary had been run by the church. After the war in 1866 the Habsburg Empire struggled and the power was split between Austria and Hungary. Hungary now was governed by a parliament and education became a central concern and question. Hungary was so multi-ethnic and multi-religious at this time that education became a source of national integration, causing many concerns and raising many questions throughout the county. After World War 1, Hungary became an even smaller country. Schools were still run by churches but there were a lot of people and groups of people who had problems with this and wanted a different education system in Hungary. After World Was II, a complete reorganization of the country occurred, including a reorganization of the schools. (An interesting side note, something I did not know, was that Hungary fought with the Germans during World War II and I think from listening to the professor and talking with another Hungarian they still are sorry for what happened.)

I found it very interesting how much the church had control over the education system in Hungary. Growing up in an educational system where there is separation between church and state, this is not something I think about often. I was surprised at the control the church had and the conflicts that occurred between religions and how this affected the education of Hungarians. Hungary still does not have separation between church and state but Dr. Nagy ended his lecture by briefly mentioning, how after World War II, religious groups such as Jews would have their own schools. I asked a question about the educational system today in Hungary and how much control the church has on the schools and he told me that there is no separation between church and state but it is weaker and a looser connection then it has been in the past.

This causes so many thoughts and questions for me. American schools were started by religious roots too, yet only a few years back there was a debate on whether the Pledge of Allegiance should contain the word God. I wonder what it would be like to have grown up in a school where separation between church and state did not exist. Would the atmosphere of the classroom change? I can not help but think about all the shooting we have had in America and how there is always someone who debates that God should be brought back into the public schools. On the other hand, going to a public high school with a lot of diversity, when I think of my closest group of friends during high school, none of them shared my exact same religion. We were not even all Christian. It would be difficult to have religious studies in public schools in america I think. After listening to this lecture I was also shocked at how little I knew about world history and by what I did not that was wrong. Dr. Nagy grabbed my attention again when he said that Hungary actually has a weaker connection of church and state compared to other European countries. I would be so interested in learning more about this about what this association means. I am curious to see the primary and secondary classrooms in Hungary and see how prevalent this association of church and state is in the schools.

I learned a lot from attending this lecture and hope to learn more and connect more during my continuing experiences I will have in Hungary.

Also, I wanted to add this cool fact: 9 Hungarians Noble Prizes and 8 of them were Jewish 🙂 (and most if not all when to a Lutheran School)

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