The bill on “public nurturing” is ready to go

Again I have to start with the intricacies of language and Rózsa Hoffmann's choice of words in formulating her ideas on education. The Hungarian word for "public education" is "közoktatás." But Hoffmann is not satisfied with this description of the work of the schools. She is an ideologue for whom school is not just a place where teachers teach their subjects and hope that the students will retain some of the knowledge they acquire. For her school has a "nurturing" (nevelési) function where children also learn about values. What kinds of values? From the text of the bill it is obvious that they will be the ones the state finds "valuable."

In order to highlight this distinction between "education" and "nurturing," the bill that normally would have been entitled "közoktatási törvény" is called "köznevelési törvény." "Nevelni" means to "nurture." The word "köznevelés" until Hoffmann arrived on the scene to reform Hungarian education meant something else. According to Magyar Értelmező Szótár, "köznevelés" means "activities conducted in school or outside of it in the interest of raising the general and professional knowledge of youth." Well, no longer. Now each school is part of Hungary's "public nurturing" network!

I wonder how long it will take for the concept of "köznevelés" to die out. Because, let's hope, Rózsa Hoffmann and the Christian Democrats who came up with these dangerous ideas on education will one day disappear. Once the Orbán government is gone I'm sure the governmental structure will go back to normal where there will a ministry devoted to education. Surely, this ministry won't be called the "nurturing ministry."

The seventy-five-page document can be read in its entirety on the website of the Ministry of National Resources. The bill reflects the Orbán government's general tendency toward centralization. Schools will be taken out of the hands of the local governments. If the bill is accepted in its present form, the ministry will appoint the principals and 90% of the curriculum will also be centrally determined. After all, Rózsa Hoffmann is accustomed to a school system where all the children from Szentgotthárd to Debrecen and from Budapest to Szeged learned exactly the same thing from the same books. Apparently, though, even Hoffmann decided that a fixed list of textbooks might not be to the liking of either teachers or parents, but the list of possible textbooks will be shortened considerably.

Hoffmann likes to invent new concepts to which new words are attached. This gives an intellectual veneer to her rather pedestrian view of education. So, let's go back to language. "Public nurturing" is not a "szolgáltatás" but a "szolgálat." "Szolgáltatás" is "provision" while "szolgálat" is "service," but the Hungarian word is associated with "szolga" which means servant. Perhaps I'm not too far off in thinking that Rózsa Hoffmann might even have conceived of "szolgálat" in the sense of religious service.

There are other oddities in this bill that worry me. One is that schools are supposed to "produce people who are capable of independent Hungarian thinking and who are committed to the fundamental values of the national community." In another part of the document it is stated that "the goal of the public nurturing is to teach every Hungarian children to think and speak in Hungarian."

Let's start with "Hungarian thinking." Surely, Ms Hoffmann isn't simply envisaging thought processes conducted in Hungarian because if one's mother tongue is Hungarian and one lives in a Hungarian-language environment that person will think in Hungarian. No, here the bill is talking about something much more serious: they want to produce people who think in an "independent Hungarian" way. And that to me can mean only one thing. The schools will inculcate the children with a good dose of Hungarian nationalism. Moreover, the state's ideal will be the man or woman who subordinates his or her individuality to perceived national values. The community first, then the individual.

What will the schools of the "government of national cause" (a nemzeti ügyek kormánya) teach besides academic subjects? "Moral and intellectual values characterize the entirety of public nurturing. First and foremost, love, trust, honesty, work, knowledge, justice, order, freedom, equity, solidarity, and the rejection of all types of discrimination."

And finally, Hoffman promises all children the opportunity to join the ranks of "the national middle class." Don't ask me what distinguishes the national middle class from the simple middle class.

These are the most egregious ideas in the bill, at least to my mind, but I fear that it will pass without substantial revisions. After all, Viktor Orbán needs the Christian Democratic votes without which there is no two-thirds majority. And Hoffmann belongs to the Christian Democratic caucus. While Matolcsy is ruining the Hungarian economy, Hoffmann has been working hard to do the same in the field of education. Oh, pardon me! In the nurturing department!

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Member

bahaha THis really cracked me up. To me what Ms Hoffman suggests is more like smothering. It really reminds me of those helicopter parents in my kids’ school who are always around, they are on every field trip, on every fundraiser, in the class, and at te copier. Just like them Ms Hoffman thinks that without her direct involvement things would go to the dogs, and god forbid someone would think for themselves. Orban and his buddies are turnng Hungary into a cult. I said this before, but it is becoming clearer by every day that the members of the Orban club need some serious therapy.

Member

…is that schools are supposed to “produce people who are capable of independent Hungarian thinking and who are committed to the fundamental values of the national community.”
Pardon? “independent”?
I have a strong suspicion The Dear Leader did not give his prior approval to this heresy.

Rigó Jancsi
Guest

I have five more years to decide whether my son will enter a Hungarian school or whether we’ll settle somewhere else. I dearly hope Mrs. Hoffmann will be history until then…

pusztaranger
Guest

“schools are supposed to “produce people who are capable of independent Hungarian thinking and who are committed to the fundamental values of the national community.”
Comes to mind the national cultural heritage of Wass Albert & Co. For those who don’t know, his “Patkányok honfoglalása (mese a fiataloknak)” reads like something from the Stürmer.
Budapest city council approved a Wass Albert statue on Margaret island just this week.

Istvan Ertl
Guest

Just for the record, semantically speaking there is not that much difference between “közoktatás” and “köznevelés”. Hoffmann did not invent the latter term. It is even the title of a well-respected (or so it was in the 80’es…) periodical on teaching, which now has a website.
http://www.koznev.hu/
It is all the more annoying if Hoffmann tries to pervert the meaning of this respectable term, like Fidesz did with the words “nemzeti”, “polgár” etc.
But this is how totalitarian regimes affect language use, cf. Klemperer on the Third Reich.
Best
Istvan Ertl
(Fidesz member 1988-91, teacher 1989-91)

An
Guest

Another semantic note: I think the closest English word in meaning to “neveles” (as used by Hoffmann) would be edification. So, in this case, the edification of the pubic (kozneveles)

Paul
Guest

And there I was thinking Hungarians were anti-semantic…

John T
Guest

I’m puzzled by the term “independent Hungarian thinking”. Not sure what the idea is behind this. I hope it’s not going to produce a load of inward looking, insular clones. School should simply be about educating kids, to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to cope with adult life and make the best of themselves. I’d much prefer to have “independent thinkers” as one of my goals.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
Public Nurturing Under this new bill you and your children will have to believe that: – • Hungarians are the Master Race. • All true Hungarians must HATE and destroy all ’idegenszívű’ and other deviants (homosexuals, foreigners, and anyone that the Great Leader (O.V.) and his toadies dislike.) • That all foreigners are liars, thieves, cheats and are Sub Human • That the Golden age of Hungary was the first few years if the 1900s • Horthy was a great leader who was betrayed by the Communists and the West • That the Foreigners particularly those from the West stole Hungarian land and people then gave them to Hungary’s enemies. • The Banks, the IMF and the western capitalists have robbed cheated and stolen wealth from Hungary. • The EU and its allies in MZSP and other liberals seek to enslave the Hungarian People. And so the list goes on. Hungarians will have to HATE all non Hungarians, and above all Love and Obay the Great Leader and Teacher and the Holy Crown. The effect of all this is to make Hungary ‘Pariah’. A nation which breaks its commercial contracts, fails to repay loans, welches on deals. Above all it… Read more »
Vándorló
Guest
@An: Much as I like the word ‘edification’ and do think Hoffman would like to shift the semantic meaning of ‘köznevelés’ towards this, right now it doesn’t denote this, nor have those connotations. As Istvan Ertl points out it is common enough and the reading given by ESBalogh borders on pure casuistry. Within education politics has always played a key role. We can pretend it doesn’t but that would be simply dishonest and prevent us with dealing with the substance of the influence being proposed. For example, Lev Vygotsky, one of the founders of modern educational practice, noted that: “Pedagogics is never and was never politically indifferent, since, willingly or unwillingly, through its own work on the psyche, it has always adopted a particular social pattern, political line, in accordance with the dominant social class that has guided its interests. ” [source 1=”Vygotszy,” 2=”1997,” 3=”The collected works of L.S.Vygotsky. Volume 4. The history of the development of the higher mental functions” 4=”New” 5=”York:” 6=”Plenum” 7=”Press.” 8=”p.” 9=”348″ language=”:”][/source] The difference here is that Hoffman has made her vision explicit, whereas we could ask what was the MSZP’s previous vision. During their tenure they continued to allowed the Roma to be… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

An “Another semantic note: I think the closest English word in meaning to “neveles” (as used by Hoffmann) would be edification.”
I don’t particularly like “nurturing” but I don’t think that “edification” is any better. “Nevelni” according to Magyar Értelmező Szótár means “to assist a young person in his physical and intellectual development” and this is normally done within the family. “Felnevelni” simply means “to bring up” someone. “Megnevelni,” on the other hand, is to teach someone a thing or two with not the nicest methods.

GW
Guest

“Edification” is a problematic word because in English and American usage it has become nearly exclusively used in patter by the pitchmen of sideshows and conjuring acts. P.T. Barnum (“There’s a sucker born every minute.”) famously offered his shows and displays of freaks and pseudoscience to the audience for their “edification”.
On second thought, maybe it’s exactly the right word here…

Odin's lost eye
Guest

‘Edification’ this is almost a slang word used by comics (and others) who are pretending to be un-educated. It is really a corruption of the word ‘education’.
It is one of those odd ball words like the American word ‘Burglarized’ which means you have been ‘Burgled’ by a ‘Burglar’. If you have been ‘Burglarized’ you have received the attentions of a ‘Burglarizizer.’
I cannot comment on the precise meaning of Hungarian words only way they are translated into English.
The title of the piece ‘Public Nurture’. To me this to means the way children are raised (brought up). It includes everything from the food they are given to eat the clothes they wear, their behaviour and the mores they learn. This continues until the time comes when the children can be considered ready to leave home.
The jolly little sods of Fidesz are going to raise a nation of grasping cheats, rogues (as Count Szechenyi described them in his private dairy), and swindlers who are aggressive, a ‘pain under the tail’ to their neighbours and a ‘bit of a nuisance’ to the rest of Europe.

Member
I think the strongest point about this that there was a correct, well known word that all Hungarians can clearly understand and identify with. There is absolutely nothing wring with the word education. It is not that a new word has been created with “neveles”, the word “neveles” (nurturing) has been around. Not only this word has been around but it was and is commonly used for institutional settings. THe word refers something, kind of negative, a forced concept of bringing up/raising someone. I am sure most of us know what “nevelo intezet” (nurturing institute) or interchangeably “javitointezet” (bettering/fixing institute ) is. It is commonly used to name places where young offenders or young people with serious behaviour problems are placed. These settings often house children who are removed from their families by children services. Being brought up in these institutions certainly carries a negative connotation. Hinting that whole Hungary needs the same betterment is just one of those not well thought through, shoot from the hip idea that is the trademark of the Orban times. I understand if foreigners do not get the “big deal” about this, but it certainly shocks me that Hungarians do not get, how inappropriate… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest
Odin, I am afraid that we will have to put up with this ‘bit of a nuisance’ as Hungary has been accepted as part of Europe many centuries ago. 🙂 Your list of what might be meant with “independent Hungarian thinking” sounds convincing to me. But I would not say that this is exclusively “Hungarian” = kelet nepe thinking. Some of the points seem to be rooted in 19th century nationalist and paternalistic thought (this “eastern, blood-based” thinking about a nation), applied to Hungarians. Unfortunately there seems to have been little development in this line of thought after 1867, or at least other political ideas are considered “un-Hungarian”. The reservations towards the EU are perhaps currently most pronounced in Hungary but there are more people around in Europe who share these ideas. In any case I doubt that Hungarians can claim “original thought” in the points mentioned by you; to me it is instead stubbornness that denies the fact that the world has changed since the 1890s. Last weak I heard the opinion that the whole Trianon question might be overcome within a generation as most of the young have been born to the reality of Hungary in its current… Read more »
An
Guest

@Vandorlo: “For example, Lev Vygotsky, one of the founders of modern educational practice, noted that: “Pedagogics is never and was never politically indifferent, since, willingly or unwillingly, through its own work on the psyche, it has always adopted a particular social pattern, political line, in accordance with the dominant social class that has guided its interests. ” [source 1=”Vygotszy,” 2=”1997,” 3=”The collected works of L.S.Vygotsky. Volume 4. The history of the development of the higher mental functions” 4=”New” 5=”York:” 6=”Plenum” 7=”Press.” 8=”p.” 9=”348″ language=”:”][/source]”
You realize, that Vygotsky’s ideas were very much influenced by Marx? As the passage you quote above also illustrates. Not that it makes his thoughts any less insightful, I just find it ironic… I always thought you had more of a right/conservative leaning. Maybe I was wrong.

Vándorló
Guest

@An: “Maybe I was wrong.” Simply remove the face-saving hedging statement “maybe”.
I’ve already stated as much many times – and will have to again, once the collective amnesia kicks in. My crime is not taking sides and or making ridiculous excuses for the appalling behaviour of others.
That said, there is little on the left in Hungary, UK or the US that I can identify with these days.

An
Guest

@Eva: Yes, maybe edification is not a better word, either. I just had the feeling that “nurturing” doesn’t have the same connotation in English as “neveles” in Hungarian. As Some1 pointed out, “neveles” can also refer to the “fixing” or betterment of the person who is subjected to “neveles” (and it can also mean child-rearing, in general). Neveles is also more of a value-laden term, when you bring up someone to live by and respect certain values, while “oktatas” is more of a technical term referring to instruction and “transferring” knowledge.
But, as Vandorlo pointed out, no education is done in a vacuum and entails some kind of transfer of values… I’d much rather these value would be around preparing students to be independent thinkers rather than independent Hungarian thinkers…not even sure whet this latter is supposed to mean.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Some1: “I am sure most of us know what “nevelo intezet” (nurturing institute) or interchangeably “javitointezet”
Javítóintézet is “reformatory school.” In the old days (or perhaps even today) parents frighten their children with sending them there.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

An: Neveles is also more of a value-laden term, when you bring up someone to live by and respect certain values, while “oktatas” is more of a technical term referring to instruction and “transferring” knowledge.”
Correct. It is also true that education doesn’t take place in a vacuum. What I object to (and I’m not alone) is the brazen admission that the state is planning to manipulate the upbringing of children over and above educating them.

Member
Edification sounded like a cooking term. Like edification of the carrots to make them edible. Ok, this is just me. The way I hear the difference between the Hungarian words “oktatas” and “neveles” is that the oktatas is more like teaching factual knowledge while neveles is emphasizes more moral values in other words it is more influence on the character. And this is what’s scary in the context of the current extra-right government’s “edification policies”. Just pick on Vandorlo. Even tough you acknowledge Hoffman’s incompetence you don’t seem to have any problems with politics seeping into the education. I guess that’s why quoted the unpronounceable named Marxist fellow. He is right – the social patterns, the political line of the dominating social class always influenced “pedagogics” (dang! another word to argue). By the way enforcing religious education is what? A social pattern? Also how does this apply to democracies where we change (cross fingers) the governments in every 4 years? What these morons should work on is a neutral national curriculum that is independent as much as possible from ideologies, so we don’t have to push our kids left and right every couple of years based on the elected government’s… Read more »
Sophist
Guest

Mutt,
“What these morons should work on is a neutral national curriculum that is independent as much as possible from ideologies”
Curious to know what this ‘neutral’ position is, who is most likely to espouse it, and how it can be institutionally protected.

Vilmos
Guest

Odin’s lost eye:” Edification’ this is almost a slang word used by comics (and others) who are pretending to be un-educated. It is really a corruption of the word ‘education’.”
Edification
mid-14c., in religious use, “building up of the soul,” from O.Fr. edification and directly from L. aedificationem (nom. aedificatio) “construction, building,” in L.L. “spiritual improvement,” from pp. stem of aedificare (see edifice). Religious use is as translation of Gk. oikodome in I Cor. xiv. Meaning “mental improvement” is 1650s. Literal sense of “building” is rare in English.
(from the Online Etymology Dictionary http://www.etymonline.com/
great resource for word/language lovers)

Vándorló
Guest

@Mutt: “you don’t seem to have any problems with politics seeping into the education” You misunderstood both the quote and what I intended to state with it. Here goes again: politics and education are inextricably linked.
This is not a value judgement, it just is so. Unless the education is conducted completely outside of state provision – which would be illegal.
WHat needs to be argued over is the way in which this relationship is managed and how all stakeholders are to be included.
Obviously the current government is unwilling, and mentally unable, to cope with diverse opinions, but it won’t always be so. More importantly, it is quite clear that teachers and lecturers will simply refuse to implement and follow much of the garbage being proposed.
NB. A while back there was a discussion here about the learning of Latin and its likely positive or negative impact on learning a third language. Well, it appears there is some clear evidence to show that Latin would cause negative interference in later laguages: http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/2011/02/latin-stone-dead.html
I would be surprised if those findings didn’t also generalise from Latin itself to latin languages – Hoffman’s hobby horse.

GW
Guest

Seriously, I suspect that this terminology distinction might have its roots in German, in which Bildung (education), Ausbildung (training), and Erziehung (rearing) are distinguished. The program described here would seem to be an Erziehung program. (Also, aome education ministries carry the name “Kultus” — culture or cultivation — and the local choice of names may reflect subtle differences in emphasis or even ideology.)
In any case, we see here an example of a major contrast to conservatism in the US, within which there is a strong conflict between strong statist conservatives who want public schools to include specific political and religious content (i.e. a narrowly-defined patriotism, creationism, prayer) and those libertarian-leaning conservatives who believe that the state schools should largely stay out of these controversial areas (indeed, many of these believe that the state should be out of the school business altogether.) The present Hungarian government clearly leans to the former view, using schools as an instrument for a particular program of indoctrination. The irony of any similarities to the school system in earlier authoritarian eras, whether right or left, should not be lost.

GW
Guest

Vilmos,
the sense of “building” is rare for edification, but rather common for the related noun “edifice.”

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

For those who know Hungarian and want to have a linguistic analysis of the first page of the new law on education. It is really incredible. This people are illiterate. http://tiny.cc/8r5lw

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