Violence in Hungarian schools

In this new world of cell phones capable of taking videos and upload sites like YouTube, nothing can be kept secret for long. A few days ago a sixteen-year-old boy (grade nine) was seen attacking a quasi-geriatric male teacher. He kicked him, picked up a dangerous-looking instrument, and made threatening moves toward the man who was frightened and obviously disoriented. The class cheered their hero on, obviously enjoying the scene. The incident happened in Budapest’s District VIII where most people of Roma origin live. Of course, one wonders how it is possible that in this poor district students have expensive cell phones, but that’s another matter.

Those who have an authoritarian streak, and there are many in Hungary, cry foul: the modern school system introduced by the cursed SZDSZ is at fault. It gives all sorts of rights to students and none to teachers. Teachers are not supposed to check students’ backpacks, they are not supposed to embarrass students, they are supposed to treat them decently. In the good old days teachers had all the rights and students had none. Loud voices, including the more radical teachers’ union that usually sides with Fidesz, demand changes in the law. These changes might be difficult because Hungary is a signatory to an international agreement that produced the present system.

Let’s face it, even with the best of intentions, teachers always have the upper hand, and a teacher who takes a dislike to a student can make the student’s life miserable if he so chooses. He doesn’t have to embarrass him in front of the class, he doesn’t have to send notes to parents. He has the most powerful weapon: he gives the grades. This is especially true when the grades are based mostly on oral examinations.

But what about the student who doesn’t care about his grades? The student who is simply marking time? And what about a whole classroom of students who would rather be anywhere else but in school? This is a challenge for any educational system. Just look at American schools, especially in urban areas, that have security cameras, trained guards, and metal detectors.

And yet when it comes to the behavior of students, virtually everything depends on the teacher. If a teacher cannot keep order in the classroom (and this old gentleman certainly couldn’t–apparently the noise coming from his classroom was deafening), the students realize that the teacher is fair game and will take of advantage of him.

When I was in high school, we had a chemistry teacher who could easily have been beaten by a hefty sixteen-year-old boy. But that didn’t happen, first of all because if it was fifty years ago, when mostly middle-class children attended gymnasium, and second because it was a girls’ gymnasium. Otherwise, the noise was the same, the girls ran around in the classroom, on tests everybody cheated without even trying hide the fact. Right in front of his nose. Our poor man just stood there, clapped his hands helplessly and kept repeating: "Girls, girls, please!" If he saw someone copying the formulas straight out of the book, he said, "No problem, at least you know where to find the answer in the book." He was not fit to be a teacher.

On the other hand, we had a Russian teacher (who earlier taught French and German) who tolerated no nonsense. Yet we liked and respected her. She told me that her first job after getting out of university was in a boys’ gymnasium. Apparently she was the first woman ever to teach at that school, and her arrival caused quite a stir. She held her first class and walked toward the teacher’s room when she heard two boys talking. One asked the other: "How was she?" Her student answered: "Just as if she were a man. No different." (Well, not as if she were my male chemistry teacher.)

Some of the challenges (among them, violence in the classroom) facing today’s teachers are new. But they aren’t a paradigm shift, just a racheting up of old challenges. So an obvious solution, it would seem, is to rachet up the talent of Hungarian teachers. (This is supported by new "scientific" studies in Hungary.) But where we are going to find these good teachers? Even in my days when the teaching profession was prestigious I can count on one hand the number of good teachers I encountered. I survived, but most of what I learned was outside of the classroom. Mostly in the library.

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Adrian
Guest
Having taught in a szakközépiskola for the last eight years, I am actually surprised at the low level of student on student violence. My own school experience in a minor English public school in the early eighties was quite different: even I managed to break somebody’s nose. At the same time I have watched the regular arrival stories of student-on-teacher violence from the UK, pleased that I don’t have to deal with that, but also increasingly worried that it is coming our way. Conservatives might argue that this follows from the simultaneous adoption of a individualistic/rights based ethos by the political-educational establishment and Rock/Rap/Video Game/Action movie role models by teenagers. But I think the underlying problem is one of increasing participation in secondary education and a simultaneous decline in student numbers. First the easy bit: it is true – strangely enough – Eva, that in Hungary the grading system can be used as a punishment / incentive system. But a teacher who aims to give an average grade of 3.5 (Hungarian system (1-5)) over his student body, quickly runs into conflict with his colleagues, and one who tries to fail a student quickly runs into conflict with the school management.… Read more »
Varangy
Guest

@Eva and Adrian
Why is everyone avoiding eye-contact with the 800-lb. gorilla in the room?
Eva, you, even gave us a subtle clue…
******A few days ago a sixteen-year-old boy (grade nine) was seen attacking a quasi-geriatric male teacher. He kicked him, picked up a dangerous-looking instrument, and made threatening moves toward the man who was frightened and obviously disoriented. The class cheered their hero on, obviously enjoying the scene. The incident happened in Budapest’s District VIII where most people of Roma origin live.********
While among the politically-correct Hungarians, it is rude to point the obvious: A Cigány is much more likely to employ violence, in, er….solving problems and disputes, than a non-cigány Hungarian.
Now, we can debate whether that is a function of their sub-culture, their genetics, or their oppression by non-cigány Hungarians — and how to go about solving this — BUT their general proclivity and lower threshold for violence and anti-social behavior (coercive begging, theft etc etc) is an indisputable (sad) fact.
[Yes, I know that this does not apply to every, single cigány in Hungary or elsewhere — and no, it is not racist to bring light to ignored fact.
So why not talk about it?

Adrian
Guest

Varangy,
Because the ethnic dimension to the problem is neither necessary nor sufficient to explain it.
The general proclivity for and lower threshhold for violence and anti-social behaviour among the white underclass in the UK is also an indisputable (sad) fact. These two groups don’t share a common ethnicity, they do share a common set of socio-economic and academic challenges.
The gypsies in my classes keep their heads down and do their homework.
As a non-hungarian living in Hungary with three mixed-race children, I am much more frightened by the entrenched racism of a significant minority of the Hungarian population than I am by “gypsy crime”.

Viking
Guest

Varangy,
If this was a race-issue, why do we have more student-initiated shootings/knife-attacks in such a race-homogeneous country as Finland, compared with Hungary or even Sweden?
The “lower threshold for violence and anti-social behavior” is also applicable to many minorities in the world, who are feeling they are loosing out in the society. Or even white folks, when they feel uncomfortable, like in Adrian’s example.

Adrian
Guest

Viking,
Youth violence in Finland !!! I’ve just got through the WSJ’s “What makes Finnish Kids so smart?”
Is there an English language link you could give me for this?

Viking
Guest
Adrian, From the “source of truth”: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,308961,00.html. On CNN (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/11/07/school.shooting/index.html) you get more background, like 2nd shooting and a picture of the killer, so everyone can do their race-biology stuff. Most other links in English seems to be re-writes of the AP-report, as presented in Fox News. An old report that goes through every nationwide reported school-related violence before 2003 (http://www.gold.ac.uk/connect/reportfinland.html, jump down to “Violence in Finnish schools”). It is not so easy to find material in English, more easier in Swedish about Finland. My own experience from growing up in Sweden in an immigrant town, where the major minority was Finns (= Finnish-speaking Finns, not to be mixed up with Swedish-speaking Finns, who basically everyone regard as Swedish (with a funny accent)), is that they where more violent-prone than your average Swedish guy. When you went out an evening, it was basically the Finnish guys that were most drunk and most aggressive. A lot of anger there. The Finns were also clearly over-represented in the group of people who could not hack it and fell out of the system (homeless). Just to clarify for Varangy, the Finns I speak about where not the “Finnish Gypsies” (a special group inside… Read more »
Varangy
Guest
******Because the ethnic dimension to the problem is neither necessary nor sufficient to explain it.****** @Adrian It is necessary b/c it points gets us closer to any sort of meaningful understanding of the problem. Sure, it may not not be entirely sufficient to explain it, but ignoring the ethnic and/or racial dimension as well as any subsequently factual observation, will only lessen insight and obscure the truth. In fact, I would posit you, Adrian, would be intellectually (and perhaps morally?) irresponsible to NOT consider an ethnic/racial dimension of proclivity for violence in gypsies. How? It is thought that gypsies may be genetically pre-disposed to dyslexia — if that is the case, then appropriate steps may be taken to better their plight. They may suffer at greater rates from other ailments. Allow me to give you another example: certain ethnicities/racial groups are at much greater risk for certain diseases than others e.g. Tay-Sachs and Jews. Sickle-cell anemia and American Blacks etc etc So, for these two examples, is “the ethnic dimension to the problem neither necessary nor sufficient to explain it”? Should we bury and ignore any data that correlates with ethnicity and/or race? I think the real answer is that… Read more »
Varangy
Guest
******If this was a race-issue, why do we have more student-initiated shootings/knife-attacks in such a race-homogeneous country as Finland, compared with Hungary or even Sweden?****** @Lars the Viking I cannot say that I am impressed with your intellect or capacity for reason/logic. 1) Does Finland have more per capita student-led shootings/knife attacks than Hungary? We don’t know, and I doubt it, but I’ll take your word for it. But even if it does, there could be/is a host of factors that could, net, push that variable up or down. Access to guns/knives, whatnot, ad infinitum… 2) Does Finland have more per capita knife attacks and theft than Hungary? I don’t know. But I would guess not. I would suggest the inverse precesily b/c Hun. gypsy crime is disproportionate to their percentage of the population. But then there may be a host of other factors as well (mentioned above). ******The “lower threshold for violence and anti-social behavior” is also applicable to many minorities in the world, who are feeling they are loosing out in the society. Or even white folks, when they feel uncomfortable, like in Adrian’s example.****** If you are clumsily trying to say that all ethnicities/races are pre-diosposed to… Read more »
Vándorló
Guest

You are no believer in tabula rasa, then, Varangy?
Just for the sake of argument that genetics did play a role in determining social behaviour, could someone explain to me the process through which differences in the genotype are expressed in the phenotype (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenotype).
Any idea which chromosome we are talking about here?
Or an interaction of nature vs nurture.

Viking
Guest

Varangy,
You have to remove the last character in the links in the browserwindow, that is why they do not work. Same thing with Vandorlo’s link.
So to conclude your argument – If a white guy is violent, there is a reason (mental illness etc), if a gypsie/black/ is violent, it is in the genetics. Seems like a very intellectual and logical argument, but what is I, a dyslexic primary school product, to know about intellectualism and logic?
If your theory of genetics would be correct, why does it only happen to some gypsies – you said yourself that “I KNOW NOT EVERY GYPSY IS VIOLENT”. Why does this gene only happen to certain gypsies?
I do also not subscribe that some people are genetically determined to be criminals, but environment, nutrition and upbringing/culture do affect people a lot. That was my point with the story of my home town.
Remember you are discussing with a Swede, we invented most of the modern concept of Race Biology, Rasbiologiska Institutet in Uppsala was the model for Hitler’s different “research institutes”. We applied it on Roma and similar groups until the middle of the 60-ties, with forced sterilizations and lobotomy.

Adrian
Guest
Varangy, You make some interesting points, especially about the moral/intellectual irresponsibility of not considering data that correlates race and crime, and the unique occurance of disease in specific genetic communities. Points I feel enthused to respond to. But your ad hominem attacks, and the assumptions you make about people posting to our little corner of the blogosphere, make me reluctant to do so. Why do you need to criticise Viking’s intellect or Sandor’s erudition or suggest that I have been brainwashed? The intellectual community I was raised in regarded such points as irrelevant for the purposes of debate. I don’t read your blog because of violence of your language, and your refusal to consider critically arguments other than your own. I do however admire your energy. This is doubly frustrating for me as I have not been brain-washed by the politically correct, indeed I was taught Aesthetics by Roger Scruton. And unlike Eva or Viking, I do believe that there can be a genetic disposition to crime. Although, I now regard myself as a Humean Conservative rather than a Burkean one, for a long time I regarded myself as a Libertarian which I guess is a political philosphy you draw… Read more »
Varangy
Guest

@Adrian
Fair enough.
@Eva, Lars the Viking, and Vándorló
I am massively busy right now, but I will take the time to compose a cogent and measured response. However, the only thing I ask of you, is that you comment or respond to it – rather than just leaving it to lay unanswered.

Varangy
Guest

Posted a long, long post here:
http://frappansklise.tumblr.com/post/30316859
Would love to see your thoughts on it.
You would do a great favor to point out where my conclusions and logic are incorrect.

Viking
Guest

Varangy,
You missed one of the main sterotypes – “Blacks have music in the blood”…
I believe I must declare in this context, especially as this seems to be so accepted in Hungary;
Jews and Muslims are not a description of race.
You mix religion with race. A flunked study on Muslims in Sweden can hardly be used as a case for race. Muslims, like any other religion, can be of any race, even if all religions have an original geographic starting point, which gives them a close connection to the people living in that area. If you ever studied religion you will see how much local factors affect it, like the ban on pork for Jews and Muslims.

Adrian
Guest
Varangy, seeing that you being so nice… I’ve printed off your blog “More on ethnicity and race”, there is much more there than I can usefully comment on – or think about – in one sitting, but this is to clarify my position and try to make contact with yours. I believe I can explain the bulk of crime in terms of economics and social psychology, etc. I don’t need to use a genetically defined concept of “race” in my explanation. So by applying Occam’s razor, I would need a good reason to start considering it. At this point you could challenge my view that the social sciences can provide an sufficient account of crime. Or you could provide me with a good reason for considering a genetic conception of “race” alongside my social science account. You don’t seem to have challenged my account of crime, you want me to think about race as well. Your good reason for wanting me to do this is drawing an analagy between criminality and accounts of genetic disease. If it was shown that criminality in a section of the community was ontologically similar to disease in a section of community. That criminality could… Read more »
Bill
Guest

@ Varangy
How do you know the student involved is a cigany? In 2001, according to a sociological study (not the census), only 16% of District VIII (the Gypsy district) was cigany – why make these assumptions? Or was the kid’s ethnicity mentioned somewhere that I missed?

Adrian
Guest

Bill,
In the sociological study you cite how was gypsy/cigany/roma defined?

Varangy
Guest

*****You missed one of the main sterotypes – “Blacks have music in the blood”…*****
@Lars the Viking
I will, digitally, bite my tongue.
*****Jews and Muslims are not a description of race. You mix religion with race.*****
I do not mix religion with race. That is why I titled the post ethnicity and race and I clearly stated:
“We know, for example, in places where criminal behavior is tracked by race, ethnicity, and religion, certain associations and correlations occur.”
*****A flunked study on Muslims in Sweden can hardly be used as a case for race.*****
‘Jag tror inte jag är ensam om att må dåligt när jag läser om hur svenska tjejer har våldtagits av invandrarhorder’
For more, go here:
http://fjordman.blogspot.com/2005/02/muslim-rape-epidemic-in-sweden-and.html
*****Muslims, like any other religion, can be of any race*****
I am aware of that.
*****If you ever studied religion you will see how much local factors affect it, like the ban on pork for Jews and Muslims.*****
For your information, I have studied religion. I had the (mis?)fortune of attending Catholic schools.

Varangy
Guest

@Adrian
I have read and re-read your comment and I am not sure of what you are saying. I suspect that the main thrust is embodied in the last paragraph, but, for the life of me, I cannot generate a response b/c I am (perhaps feeble-minded) confused as to what you are trying to say.
Would you re-state your opinion/response for me?

Adrian
Guest

@varangy
Don’t worry about the last two paragraphs, I only put them in because I thought the rest of the note – although clear – wasn’t really interesting.
If you didn’t understand the first seven paragraphs then I really have something to learn from you – how to make myself clear!
But I’ve been re-reading “The Blank Slate” this evening, here’s something from a much better writer than me:
“Though ethnic groups differ today in their average rates of violence, the differences do not call for a genetic explanation, because the rate for a group at one historical period may be matched to that of any other group at another period. Today’s docile Scandinavians descended from bloodthirsty Vikings, and Africa, wracked by war after the fall of colonialism, is much like Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire”
Allen Lane hardback version (2002) p. 315
Do you want to disagree with Professor Pinker, too?

Varangy
Guest
****You missed one of the main sterotypes – “Blacks have music in the blood”…**** @Lars the Viking I sort of let that one slide by me before. But I’m sorry, I just can’t — I suppose you think that all those are racist if they give any sort of credence to the idea that musical ability may have genetic roots. Allow me to once again remind everyone, this does not preclude nor is it mutually exclusive with a plethora of cultural and social factors. I guess that makes me a racist. I suppose a jealous Slavic/Germanic/Hungarian one, cuz I love all sorts of rock-and-roll, I have a helluva tin ear, scare small children when I try to sing in the car and can’t dance for the life of me. But let’s go back to blacks and music. What is so striking, and moreover, indisputable, Lars the Viking, is that blacks all over North and South America have had a profound and permanent influence on the musical landscape…OF THE WORLD. I am painting with a broad brush, but it is thought that rock-and-roll originated from blues, which in turn originated from negro slave spirituals which had their roots in West Africa.… Read more »
Varangy
Guest
*****If you didn’t understand the first seven paragraphs then I really have something to learn from you – how to make myself clear!***** I assume you are taking the piss. ****”Though ethnic groups differ today in their average rates of violence, the differences do not call for a genetic explanation, because the rate for a group at one historical period may be matched to that of any other group at another period. Today’s docile Scandinavians descended from bloodthirsty Vikings, and Africa, wracked by war after the fall of colonialism, is much like Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire” Do you want to disagree with Professor Pinker, too?**** I do. I am nobody’s fanboy. I have no problem with disagreeing with Pinker. I think he is wonderful writer and a fantastically erudite scholar — but I do think he is mistaken. Reason being, 1) I think he implicitly argues that we haven’t had enough time to pass between, say, ancient peoples and their modern descendants — such that their genome could change. I don’t think that is the case. 2) I dunno if Vikings and Swedes are good examples. Vikings certainly had a reputation for bloodthirsty-ness, but I wonder… Read more »
Member

Varangy,
“Africa, wracked by war after the fall of colonialism, is nothing like Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire”.
Were you tired when you wrote the above? What was the situation in Europe for about 1500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire? = Extreme bloody. Just the last 50 years we have had some stability in Europe, probably the IronCurtain and then the EU, with its co-operation, is much the reason for that.
Africa today is very much the same as Europe 1000-1500 years ago, wars and wars evereywhere. Of course we live in different times and history does not repeat itself.

Adrian
Guest
Varangy, No, I am not taking the piss. Is that clear? 1) You are right about Pinker’s argument, but it’s not implicit: ” All speicies habor genetic variablility, but Homo Sapiens is among the less variable ones. Geneticists call us a “small” species, which sounds like a bad joke given that we have infested the plaenet like roaches. What they mean is the amount of genetic variation found among humans is what a biologist would expect in a species with a small number of members. There are more genetic differences among chimpanzees, for instance, than there are among humans, even though we dwarf them in number. The reason is that our ancestors passed through a population bottleneck fairly recently in our evolutionary history (less than a hundred thousand years ago) and dwindled to a small number of individuals with a corresponding small amount of genetic variation.” The blank slate pp. 142-143 So WHAT don’t you think is the case, and what’s your reason/evidence/authority for not thinking it? 2) Very interesting: you see out-group and in-group dynamics (social psychology concepts) as necessary to understand viking violence. Is this also the case with gypsy violence, or is gypsy violence of a wholely… Read more »
Adrian
Guest

Varangy,
I apologise for my question (2) about whether you thought gypsy violence was of “wholely genetic origin”. I’ve re-read your post on ethnicity and race, and you clearly don’t.
But your posts do seem to imply that gypsies have “more” genes for violence than other ethnic groups – Swedes, for example. Is this your position?
If not, why did you draw attention to genetic considerations – the 800 lb gorilla – in the first place?

Varangy
Guest

@Adrian
I am super busy right now. But promise that I will get you a response.

Adrian
Guest

OK,
In the meantime would anybody like to address my original post: participation in education and how it is effecting academic and behaviour standards in schools?
Please…

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