Some effects of the “reforms” on Hungarian public education

Yesterday I read with astonishment the following sentences in one of Viktor Orbán’s latest speeches, delivered at the future site of a sports complex to house the 2017 world aquatics championships:

When we talk about the Hungarian government’s commitment to sports … we are actually talking about the future of Hungary, about our children, about our grandchildren, about those Hungarians who will be living here when we are no more. We live in a crazy world in which it is not easy to bring up members of the younger generation, but I’m convinced that the only sure educational method that helps the new generation become successful, to stand on its own feet in the world, is sports. Sport is the equivalent of the Hungarian future and Hungarian children. We will not deny them any kind of sacrifice within reasonable limits. That’s why it was an easy decision by the Hungarian government to support this upcoming event.

Did we hear correctly? The education of the next generation can best be achieved through sports? While Hungarian education and healthcare are in shambles, the Orbán government is ready to lavishly endow sports facilities and programs that serve only the top athletes in the field. Because we shouldn’t be fooled by all this talk. The incredible amount of money the government spends on sports is for elite athletes, not for recreational sports activities.

I certainly value sports both as an ingredient of healthful living and as an opportunity to learn about teamwork and competition. But putting sports ahead of all other human endeavors is a horribly skewed way of understanding personal development. To become a successful, well-adjusted human being requires a bit more than running after a ball all day long.

And that brings me to a study by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences about the effects of the Orbán government’s so-called “educational reforms.” The word “reform” implies improvement, which is why I was somewhat annoyed when Eleni Kounalakis, in her book, kept referring to the undemocratic changes introduced by the government as “reform processes.” Viktor Orbán and Rózsa Hoffmann didn’t reform Hungarian education. Just the opposite. Hungarian public education has already been set back by more than ten years. At least this is what is emerging from the data.

One especially harmful decision of the government was lowering compulsory school attendance from 18 to 16 years of age. As a result, fewer 17- and 18-year-olds are finishing high school. Most likely the schools are happy to get rid of these students, but their problems are not solved by dropping out.

What is perhaps more troubling is that while in 2009 55% of those who took the matriculation exam applied to college, that number dropped to 45% by 2013. Since 2011 fewer and fewer Hungarians have enrolled in college, and it is likely that this trend will continue. This despite the fact that higher educational attainment directly correlates with the success of a country’s economy.

This so-called “educational reform” was prepared and executed by people without any professional competence in matters of education. It is true that Rózsa Hoffmann had a degree that qualified her to be a high school teacher, but she wasn’t really in charge of the “reform.” The person who dreamed up the horror show that Hungarian education is today was Viktor Orbán, along with another pseudo-educator, the president of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce.

Admittedly, Hungarian public education was nothing to be proud of even before. One reason for its failures, in my opinion, is the system of tracking, of entrance exams at practically every turn. If it depended on me, I would reintroduce a network of schools which all children from a given district would attend. This is the situation in Finland, a country that was exceptionally successful in producing a highly educated population. Poland, which has done remarkably well of late, followed Finland’s example. I fear that no Hungarian government will ever dare to introduce such a system, and therefore I doubt that Hungary will be able to produce results comparable to Poland or Finland any time soon.

Catholic elementary school in Apc, Heves County I wonder what that map high up behind the children is good for

Catholic elementary school in Apc, Heves County
I wonder what that map high up behind the children is good for

In addition to this flaw in the educational structure, there is another problem I suspect few people are aware of. Although everybody complains that Hungarian children are overburdened by long hours in school and homework that takes forever to finish, according to the statistics of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, out of 33 developed countries Hungary is dead last when it comes to the number of hours children spend in school. In the first ten grades Australian children spend twice as much time in school as Hungarian children do. The main reason for such a huge disparity is the lengthy summer vacation, which is a leftover from the days when peasant boys and girls had to help their families in the fields during the summer months. Something could certainly be done about that.

And finally, it is not immaterial what children learn. The Orbán government introduced physical education every day, although most of the schools don’t have facilities to provide daily gym for all their students. On the other hand, in high school computer science is offered only in grades 9 and 10, for one hour a week. Instead of spending time on religious or ethical education, teaching children to code might be a great deal more useful and intellectually challenging.

I understand that the way classes are conducted today hasn’t changed much since I went to school. And, believe me, I hated every minute of it and found most teachers, as well as the textbooks, abominable. I’m sure that the situation is much better in some of the elite schools, but I doubt that the routine has changed at all in the great majority of schools. Twenty minutes of oral questioning and twenty minutes of a boring lecture by the teacher who has nothing to say that can’t be found in the textbook. I don’t call that education.

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steve397
Guest

In my school some of our teachers simply told us what pages we have to learn for the next session. Eva, your teachers were very advanced educators 🙂

Webber
Guest
On (proportionately) fewer and fewer people going to university: part of the problem is the stipend. For quite some time now, many students – those who don’t score as well on exams, but score well enough to get into university – have had to pay for their studies. In this (only), the Hungarian system resembles the American one. This group, naturally, includes no students from poor families, and with stagnating wages, this group grows smaller. The other problem is with the stipend, which hasn’t been raised in a very long time (n.b. the same goes for salaries in higher ed. – it’s been @ a decade). Even if a student is brilliant and gets a full scholarship that includes a monthly stipend, the maximum amount a student can get through the stipend is so small that it is not enough for food, much less for rent (even in a cheap dorm). If the student is fortunate enough to live in the town where the university is, s/he can continue living at home. But a lot of students are from rural areas where there is no university nearby. They simply must find accommodations. Now, it seems natural to me that (many)… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Another, not unrelated, issue: KLIK has started firing school staff, then re-hiring them as “közmunkások” – people on workfare. This is a new policy, and an intentional way to lower expenditures in schools. So, for instance, people working in the school cafeteria are made redundant, and lose their salaries of (say) 87,000 forints per month, and are then told they can be re-hired as workfare people within the week (sometimes on the same day) on a “salary” of 77,300 forints, but only for those months when they actively work, meaning that during Christmas and summer vacations they now will get no salary at all.
News is that this “policy” is considered so “rational” by the government that it will shortly be spread to higher education.

Guest

“I wonder what that map high up behind the children is good for”

It is good for misleading the children about geography especially with respect to the Carpathian mountain range. Compared to nature the range has been improved by a bold semicircular brushstroke in dark brown colour that misrepresents its shape and height.

A more scientific map of the Carpathians can be seen here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpathian_Mountains

Alex Kuli
Guest
In addition to the Orban reforms, the key problem plaguing Hungarian schools and universities is endemic cheating and plagiarism. Students everywhere cheat, but nowhere else have I seen it so widespread and so tolerated. When university officials catch a student copying someone else’s work, their immediate reaction is usually hand-wringing and finger-shaking, but they generally resolve the issue by concocting weak excuses (“It wasn’t intentional plagiarism, she was just lazy about the attribution”) and a shrug (“Don’t do it again.”) Government could do a great service by ordering a crackdown on academic dishonesty, but they are unlikely to do so. First, it would cause great disruption. Second, a crackdown might shed light on political leaders’ own lack of academic integrity. As we all know, President Schmitt was forced to resign after HVG exposed him as a plagiarist; when Deputy Prime Minister Semjen’s penchant for copy-pasting became public knowledge, he responded with a rotweiler-style attack on his accusers. Tamas Sos, the former MSZP chief in Heves County, lost his “doctor” title in 2014 in connection with plagiarism on his PhD dissertation. This was hardly the result of a lack of integrity in communist-era academia or youthful indiscretion — ELTE awarded Sos… Read more »
Webber
Guest
You are right about plagiarism. There is no need for new rules, however. All universities in Hungary have a procedure for expelling students caught plagiarizing – or suspending them, or putting them on probation. Faculty boards are to make that decision, because plagiarism is such a serious act. The rules are quite similar to those in any Western country. The problem is with the practice, not rules. In practice, university boards never decided on this sort of thing. At worst, a student will generally just get a failing grade. And then, so what? In Hungary, all exams can be taken three times, with no need to repeat the entire course. And the best grade is the one that counts. So, if a student is caught plagiarizing and gets an F (1), the student still has two more chances to turn that F into an A (5). Often the student will openly say that the teacher is “a creep” (I’ve heard the word szemét, uttered by students) for giving a failing grade for plagiarism, “because everyone does it – the teacher is just picking on me! S/he knows everyone is doing it. Why doesn’t s/he pick on someone else?” I know… Read more »
Member

A viktor beszéde szerint, az alapkő letételével, miután elrabolták a Dagály fürdőt a polgároktól, oda nem mehetnek többé fürödni, valamint néhány úszómedence építésével bizonyítja Magyarország, hogy bátor, leküzdötte a válságot és lábra állt.

Hírem van a viktor számára, nálunk az USA-ban millióknak van saját úszómedencéje, több száz újabb épül naponta, eszerint mi vagyunk a legbátrabb nemzet a Világon!

Ezek után újra plágiummal rukkolt ki a viktor, másodszor tíz nap alatt, ugyanazzal.
Íme:
“A világ megváltozott, eddig a nagyhalak ették meg a kicsiket, most a gyorsak eszik meg a lassúakat, és a bátrak eszik meg a gyávákat” – fogalmazott, megjegyezve: aki fél, félreáll, nem hisz a saját erejében, az a sor végére sodródik.
(Ezt a 2002-ben írt szöveget, idézetet, lopta a viktor és idáig rosszúl idézte, pl. a Magyarország Barátai Alapítvány elötti beszédében, de az újságírók azóta figyelmeztették a hibára.)
“It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small…It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow” : How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business by Jason Jennings, Paperback, April 12, 2002 – $0.01 (used) $12.94 new hard cover, Amazon.com)
http://www.amazon.com/Its-That-Small-Fast-Slow/dp/0066620546

megye
Guest
The pushing of sports and sports education (daily PE classes) has three important political reasons — only one of which the left wing could ever fathom. That these policies (and the general eduction policies) lead nowhere is a huge problem of course, but this is not how politics works with Fidesz, they concentrate on money and votes. If people care about education and don’t like the policies then they will not vote for Fidesz. (Of course Fidesz is building a warchest for 2017-2018 to be able to burn a couple of thousands of forints on voters.) One is obviously the stealing of money from giant sports projects (stadiums, other facilities like building pools for championships etc.) — that would be clear to the lefties. The second most important issue and this was a demand, a cry for help by the teachers who just hated, hated the Liberal (Magyar Bálint’s name is a course among teachers) ideas was the instilling order and discipline in a legally acceptable way. One of the liberal ideas introduced by the leftist governments was the kids could start elementary school whenever their parents wanted to send their kids to school which means that there were often… Read more »
Webber
Guest
I guess you don’t have kids in a Hungarian school just now. I also guess you don’t know too many teachers. Am I right? I guess that, because all of the policies you have described as “liberal” and “leftist” are actually still in place under Fidesz, and what you say is not what I’ve heard from teachers or parents. Fidesz has not significantly changed the right of parents to decide when students start studying – you can still hold your kid back for a year if you like, and first grade classes start with quite a few 7-year-olds as a result Incidentally, that wasn’t a even “liberal” idea. Under socialism, kindergarten teachers could recommend a child spend one more year in kindergarten – and they still can. Now parents can decide, too. Is that “wrong?” Fidesz apparently doesn’t think so. Fidesz has not done a damned thing about “problem children.” They are still in the classroom (they must be). Nothing has improved at all here. The school teachers I know – now teaching in the system in Budapest and E. Hungary – are frustrated and even angered by Fidesz’s reforms. Parents, also, aren’t terribly happy. School books actually got more… Read more »
megyei
Guest
I think you misunderstand me on purpose. What I wrote about were the rationales behind these decisions. Did you refute those? I guess not. I know for a fact is that there was a huge pressure on Fidesz from rural teachers (the rural orderly middle class, intelligentsia, lawyers, doctors, teachers are generally a conservative bunch) to finally do something, anything with problem kids (a code for gipsies, but not necessarily as little kids nowadays also tend to have smartphones so can’t concentrate, are high on sweet junk food and teachers can’t cope with these) and PE classes were part of these disciplinarian efforts (not because teachers cared so much that kids were overweight and out of shape) like introducing security staff in some more problematic schools and being able to get rid of overage, disruptive kids at age 16. It doesn’t matter that Fidesz didn’t grant all the wishes of this lobby or that it backtracked from its plans (like from the obligatory after-school programs from which middle class kids are exempted and only the poor kids remain in school and do essentially nothing, although at least they don’t all watch reality shows on TV which would be the only… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Good! I think I did misunderstand you – but certainly not deliberately.

Steve Szabo
Guest

“out of 33 developed countries Hungary is dead last when it comes to the number of hours children spend in school”
And who said Hungary was a developed country?Of course I am being sarcastic!…..but I live in Hungary and see it every single day.

Old Education
Guest

Perhaps you live in the alföld region, which is culturally not really Hungarian.

István
Guest
I don’t have a problem with promoting a strong physical education program, that teaches students the value of life long cardiovascular exercise. I am in my 60s and I maintain a rigorous exercise regieme, but is time consuming. Many of the retired military officers and NCOs I know do too, I guess it became engrained in us like getting up early in the morning. But many of my civilian friends in their 60s and 70s are a physical mess and can’t even walk a mile anymore. So over a life time this type of exercise discipline has payoffs. Collectively once we Hungarians largely stopped incredibly hard agricultural work we largely continued to eat like people using massive calories in daily labor. We are not alone in this, Mexican Americans for example are experiencing the same thing and have many significantly over weight children here in the USA. Some Scandinavians seem blessed not to have a propensity for obesity as are some other ethnic groups. But really what PM Orban is discussing is something else altogether. He is talking I think about some perception that sports provides self discipline which can put a child on the right path in life. I… Read more »
exTor
Guest

Must be all that good clean Minnesota air, István. Regimen is the word and a regimen is what is needed. A good one, one that incorporates rigorous [eg: weight-bearing, eg: weightlifting] exercises, will help the later years.

Everything else NWS, good genetics is the absolute bottomline to longevity.

As for Viktor Orbán’s prosports comment, it was made at a sports-complex-to-be site. Of course he’s going to pump sports. Sports are easy to understand. Championships. Gold medals. What’s not to like?

All the other shite I hear about him, I can not believe that Orbán is that crassly one-sided to ignore the need for good education. He just seems to do things that get greater bangs-for-the-buck, so to speak.

The issue of education is a continuum that other governments have had to deal with. The problems that bedevil the educational system are not entirely, nor probably mostly, the fault of Fidesz.

MAGYARKOZÓ

István
Guest

OT: But possibly relevant to PM Orban’s learned behavior during his childhood. Over the Christmas holiday on my visit to Hungary my cousin told me a story about Rakosi. She told that the Hungarian Meadow viper was called traditionally called the Rakosi viper and Comrade Rakosi had the name changed because he did not like himself being associated with a venomous snake. Does any one have a reference to this story from a historical source in either Hungarian or English, the story amazed me. Somehow I suspect Eva has a reference a few feet from her right now, she seems to have access to everything.

Webber
Guest

Apparently there may be something in that, but the snake’s name long ago reverted to “Rákosi viper”, because that’s what it’s called now. You can see a couple of them at the zoo in Budapest where zookeepers are (or were) trying to get them to reproduce to reintroduce the offspring to areas they used to inhabit. Here’s the Hungarian Wikipedia entry to show you that the name really is “Rákosi vipera” now:
http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A1kosi_vipera
Here’s an excerpt from an article mentioning the re-naming of the snake in the Rákosi period:
Az 1950-es években, Rákosi Mátyás idejében a fajt Boros István, a Természettudományi Múzeum egykori főigazgatója, neves herpetológus javaslatára átkeresztelték parlagi viperára, azzal a tudományos indoklással, miszerint a parlag a legjellemzőbb élőhelye. Anekdoták szerint azonban a valódi ok az volt, hogy Rákosit zavarta, hogy a viperát is úgy hívják, mint őt. Az eredeti, rákosi vipera elnevezés az utóbbi években terjedt el ismét.
Article here:
http://www.origo.hu/tudomany/20100906-a-karpatmedence-legeveszelyeztetetteb-allatat-tenyesztik-kunpeszeren-bemutatjuk-a-rakosiviperavedelmi-kozpontot.html

Realitycheck
Guest

The Rákosi Viper is an endangered subspecies of the European Meadow Viper (Vipera ursinii ssp. rakosiensis). Among Hungarian conservation biologists it is informally called both the Hungarian Meadow Viper and Rákosi’s Viper.

http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/23003/0

http://www.mme.hu/rakosi-vipera-vipera-ursinii-rakosiensis

István
Guest

Thanks Webber that was fast.

Guest

Re sports and people getting fatter:

Istvan really hit the nail on the head here (thank you!) – it’s almost grotesque how many obese people (young and old, many children too) you see in Hungary …
Of course we have them in Germany etc too – but in Hungary it’s really bad, my wife often remarks on it. We try to look away normally …

My sister who moved all around the world with her husband (As a financial supervisor for a large global company he had to change his workplace, even country every two or three years – it was in his contract … Btw that’s how I came to Hungary the first time, they spent three years in Budapest) told me once after they returned from Africa:

What’s the difference between a developed/rich country and a poor/underdeveloped country?

In a poor country the rich people are fat – in a rich country the poor people are fat …

Now does that mean that Hungary has become or is turning into a rich country?

exTor
Guest
My education occurred in Toronto. My only connection to the educational system in Hungary is having gone out with a Hungarian teacher. She taught the lower grades, 1 to 4. Teachers move up with their students one year at a time teaching the next-higher grade until the 4th grade is reached. This method seems to be as good as any, maybe even better than sticking to teaching just one grade. Dont know how it’s done around North America. Sometimes Ria (as I shall call her) talked about problems with Roma kids. (Hungarians almost always use the ‘cigány’ [gypsy] term instead of Roma.) To me, the problems she had with her Roma students were culturally derived, which is unsurprising. When one is part of the ‘other’, then one often behaves in ‘other’ ways, ways that sometimes harshly intersect the predominant culture. No surprise there, look at the First Nations in Canada, Latino or Black communities in the United States. Ria told me (a couple of years ago) that the government promised to give teachers pay increases the following school year. Dont know if that ever happened. What was surprising to learn, was that each district in Budapest paid its teachers differently.… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Equalizing pay: In many districts in Budapest, this meant teachers actually now earn less than they did before. Some rural areas did see increases in pay. It varies by district.

An
Guest

Of all the damage this government is doing to the country, the damage to education is perhaps the most detrimental, as it has long-lasting consequences. Without a highly educated and skilled workforce the country not only won’t be able to catch up with the developed word, but may relegate herself to a third word status.
I think the changes in education are partly motivated by ideology and partly by the simple logic of power. Fidesz wants to limit access to education (to the right, Fidesz-loyal crowd) and keep the masses ignorant… there is no better way to make the population dependent on their Fidesz overlords.
Add to this the massive exodus of young people from the country in search for a better future, and Hungary’s future looks bleak for many years to come, even if by some miracle there’d be a change in government.

An
Guest

Eva briefly mentioned Finland as a country with highly educated population. Finland started to reform its educational system in the 70s and one cornerstone of their reforms was to improve teacher education. They reformed the teacher education system,

“Greater investments in teacher education began in the 1970s with the expectation that teachers would move from three-year normal school programs to four- to five-year programs of study. During the 1990s, the country overhauled preparation once again to focus more on teaching diverse learners higher-order skills like problem-solving and critical thinking in research-based master’s degree programs. Preparing teachers for a research-based profession has been the central idea of teacher education developments in Finland.”

At the same time, they made sure that teaching is well paid and that the status of the teaching profession is increased. Of all students applying to teacher education programs only the best are admitted (15% of all applicants).

“What we can learn from Finland’s successful school reform”
http://www.nea.org/home/40991.htm

“Pasi Sahlberg on why Finland leads the world in education”
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/video/pasi-sahlberg-on-why-finland-leads-the-world-in-education/5711/

spectator
Guest
Why am I feeling that if Orbán really was a civilised, literate person, the whole mad issue of “sport as national treasure”, – particularly, of no reason: soccer – wouldn’t ever have been focused on that much, but definitely never as a main educational issue? Sport has its role, could be part of the healthy lifestyle – or so they say – but never the cornerstone of a country’s future. Particularly not in the year 2015, in the middle of Europe! In time of the “Hungarian Golden League” there wasn’t really other opportunity to break away from the postwar communist uniform lifestyle, just as the other “socialist” countries, sport was one of the the common solutions. (The other was art, mostly music and dance.) I honestly wish that Orbán would have been really talented as soccer player, or more talented as he really was, maybe we could have had a Great Leader of the “Hungarian football” instead of the person who he became – a frustrated wannabe star sportsman turned to wannabe dictator, the “Godfather” of all Hungarians, who just couldn’t help, but expert in everything..! Now once again, as part of the national-neo-communist revival, the sport will be the… Read more »
csabbba95
Guest
Another great problem and a disgusting contradiction as well in the government’s education policy in my opinion: The goverment prides itself on demanding a high level of foreign language skills on the part of the university students. In the last few years they have provided for and introduced new regulations that require students to have more language certificates in order to be able to get a degree. Why? Because it is really important for the new generation to be professionals speaking foreign languages, having better opportunities on the international job market, etc. That’s what they say. What really happens: in the meantime the government has significantly lowered the number of (second) foreign language classes. (eg. 3 instead of 5 per week) They have passed laws that don’t allow bilingual schools to teach the primary foreign language in more than two groups per class. This results in groups with more students (eg. 18 instead of 12) which strongly worsens efficiency. If you ask me, it very much correlates with the government’s attitude stressed so much a few years ago, basically saying: “F*ck students who, after getting their degree, leave the country for Germany and other western countries to work for wages… Read more »
Guest
I note the endless outrage, frustration, weeping and gnashing of teeth in comment after comment following each of Professor Balogh’s blog entries, and I wonder at the reality or sense of reality of many of the readers of Hungarian Spectrum. After all this time with Orbán, I think it would be a profound mistake not to consider him to be the authentic representative the overwhelming majority of Hungarians who bother turning out to vote, and by default also of those Hungarians too, who don’t bother to make that effort. The political and social comfort zone of the overwhelming majority of Hungarians is obviously some peculiar mix of Christian Nationalism and National Socialism. Orbán delivers that. Hungarians obviously prefer the strong, autocratic hand on the wheel of government, that of a governor (kormányzó) or regent, rather than the seemingly rudderless messiness that tends to go with liberal democracy. Orbán certainly delivers the illiberal, autocratic “democracy” obviously preferred by most Hungarians who bother to vote, and by default by those too, who don’t. Hungarians who bother to vote (and by default those too, who don’t) don’t seem to be overly bothered by the Mafia character of the governance of the current Hungarian… Read more »
Member

Mike Bálint: What kind of drugs are you taking?

It must be the similar to the drugs the viktor and his motley crew takes and alters the reality to them. The scummy thieves, the lying villains, the nefarious groveling mob of his Mafia Government must be taking tranquillizers and drink cool aid in the evenings, so they can watch the good news on MTV without severe pain.
The pain is not in their empty heads, but in the rear, the only working part of their body, on which they sit all day, in the building, which used to function as a Parliament in the past and now it is the den of hundreds of thieves and criminals.

Guest

@gybognarjr
May 17, 2015 at 8:57 pm

I think you have misunderstood the thrust of my very mildly phrased comment and the sarcasm implicit in it, therefore it wouldn’t be fair on my part to respond to yours.

Guest

Mike Balint’s comments remind me of an old joke:

The situation in Hungary is hopeless – but not serious!

Thanks for those insights – the sarcasm might be a bit hard to swallow (as the following comments show …) but it’s well founded.

On the other hand:
Maybe nobody from the “everyday Hungarians” fights against Orbán and his cronies because everybody’s just trying to survive somehow from one month to the next …
At least that’s my impression when we talk to friends and neighbours.

petofi
Guest

Quite right, Wolfi. As I’ve stated before, Viktor and his backers have discovered the new permutation to Machiavelism–keep the downtrodden so down, and preoccupied with making a living (remembering that opposition to Orban/Fidesz will infinitely complicate the problem of providing a roof and shelfter…especially when the threat to job or business couldn’t have been made more clear in the last 5 years…) that they will hunker down and go on with what’s asked of them just to be let alone. People should read some concentration camp literature about survival..

So, forget about opposition. Fidesz popularity among the mainstream is not ‘love-rooted’ but ‘fear-rotted’. Of course few people like Fidesz but come the next election they’ll know where to vote, or be Estergomized.

I don’t understand the vituperation aimed at Mike Balint. Could it be dormant ‘Hungarian Pride’ rearing its Loch Nestian head? Mike explained the problem succinctly: examine Hungarian society and its norms because all Orban has done is to cater to it. Simple.

Why be blasting the ‘messenger’?

googly
Guest

Because he’s wrong.

Old Education
Guest

How was it possible that Hungary had so much higher contribution in science and technology relative to the size of its population during the 1880-1960 period than Western Great powers like USA UK Germany France ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_and_technology_in_Hungary

Guest

You mean all those Jewish scientists,Nobel Prize winners, mathematicians and engineers?
Just think for a minute about what happened to them …

Old Education
Guest

First: As I said, you always use nazi like term “jewish” despite they considered themselves as Hungarians in their own curriculum vitae after the holocaust and creation of state Israel. They grew up in Hungarian culture (instead of traditional Jewish culture) they went christian schools (instead of traditional Jewish schools), they did not speak Yiddish or Hebrew, As I said: Only fascists questioned their Hungarian nationality.

Second: read the article carefully, most of the inventors and scientists had no ethnic Jewish origin, they were represented mostly only on the field of particle/nuclear physics.

petofi
Guest

Touche, Wolfi.
But remember: prize winners are Hungarians, jews (or Israelites) are the crooked nosed ones who steal 6 year old virgins to use their blood in the making of deluxe matzos….

Grafic
Guest
There are bunch of reasons. Not one, but dozens. I would even say that Hungary and the world changed so much in many ways since 1880-1960 that it’s almost not the ‘same country’ and certainly not the same ‘river’. There was smaller or no competition from Asia (China, India, Singapore, Korea, Japan etc.), Africa, Latin-America, Turkey, Israel etc. or we didn’t really know about the competition (Japan was already very industrialized). Kids didn’t want to be and couldn’t be pop/sports/media stars etc., education was the only option for many urban, (what was then) middle-class kids and for their parents. People were much poorer (many educated people like József Attila even in their adult lives went hungry for days, there was only private health care and it was expensive etc.) and this was a huge incentive. Also in certain areas (maths or music) repetition and practice are very useful and today it’s more difficult to make kids practice math problems day after day to get better. Often they will enjoy the subject only when they are good at those but in order to get to be good, a lot of repetitive, hard practice is necessary. Once they are good and enjoy… Read more »
Old Education
Guest

I think Asia is a bad example, most of their technology based on imported American and Western European inventions and licences. Moreover, they had not a creative individualistic society, but rather a “robotic” collectivist society. That’s why Asian countries are very weak in international prizes of sciences and mathematics.

” It’s much more difficult than in 1885 when setting up a beer bottling company in Hungary was a huge industrial feat.”

Are you kidding? The Austro-Hungarian Empire was the forth largest (After USA Germany and UK) producer of machine-building industry and electronics , and the Hungarian part of the Empire was better in the braches of te second industrial revolution than the Austrian half of the Empire..

googly
Guest

Oh no, not you again! Please spare us the diatribe about how the Czech Republic had no “second industrial revolution” industry!

Old Education
Guest

Grafic, you must also read the whole short article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_and_technology_in_Hungary

Grafic
Guest
Dude, you obviously have never been to any parts of Asia and have no idea about Asia’s (including but not limited to Japan, China, Korea etc.) economic, industrial or social history or present. Also, while I like Wikipedia I hope you know that it cannot be treated as the sole and undisputed source on historical issues. Moreover what does winning awards and prizes mean? How many Noble prizes Switzerland or Finland or Denmark have won? Are they happy and rich or poor and pathetic? Everything is based on “import” (reading about, learning the state of the art in science, copying, licensing patents etc.) until one point you are able to overtake your predecessors; you gotta start somewhere and there’s no use in reinventing the wheel is there? Samsung created third-rate hi-fi 30 years go now it’s leading the world. I would be happy if any Hungarian company could copy and steal any foreign state of the art product — alas they are unable to. Moreover the product, the idea isn’t everything (although it’s also increasingly complex), you need management, marketing, production management know-how too and those take time to master. This is an interesting article about Shenzhen (mainland China), read… Read more »
Old Education
Guest

Again, there are many oil countries in the middle-east and Kazahstan which have no contribution in science and technology, they have only minerals, and they are “successful and happy” They are not even democratic countries.

“Samsung created third-rate hi-fi 30 years go now it’s leading the world.”

Yes, it based on imported American technology and licences. Did you know that 70% of the world’s leading scientists work and live in the United States, and more than 80% of the innovations and discoveries of our era come from the United States?

Guest

Rather OT:

@Grafic: Your remark about Samsung made me laugh because it reminded me of the first “fourth rate” transistor radio I bought in Germany many years ago. It was made by a Korean company called “Lucky Goldstar” and was rather crappy in garish plastics …

Now that company calls itself “LG” and is one of the foremost electronics producers.

Of course Hungary by itself or rather Hungarian companies cannot compete with those new giants – but the EU based companies can – international cooperation is everything.

Re our latest racist troll:

It thinks that Hungarians were/are the only important ones – and it has written rather disparaging remarks (under another name) about Hungarians neighbours: Slovaks, Czechs – you name them …
The creature is not for real – I think it’s even involved in disputes on wikipedia about Hungarians being the greatest …

Old Education
Guest

Dear Wolfi, I think you use words and idioms which are not clear for you.

googly
Guest
“I think you use words and idioms which are not clear for you.” What does that mean? That he’s not cleared by some higher authority to use them? I think Wolfi’s doing just fine. You, on the other hand, need to do a better job of defending what you write, since it is obviously not relevant. One answer to your question about why Hungarians don’t excel in industry is that the system in place discourages it. Another possible answer is all the people who were considered to be Jewish (whether they agreed with that label or not) whose descendants live outside Hungary. The same goes for the descendants of those who fled in 1956, or during other periods of communism, or since the fall of communism, or before World War I, or any number of periods of time in the last 100 years. The best and brightest leave, except when it comes to those are the best and brightest crooks. It could also just be that Hungarians were good at the skills necessary to succeed in that particular time, and not at the skills needed since then. Whatever the answer, who cares except you and some other nationalist trolls? People… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@Grafic

“How many Noble prizes Switzerland or Finland or Denmark have won? Are they happy and rich or poor and pathetic?”

Oh, oh, bud. Big trouble with this one. Are you aware that the Swiss looted the accounts and safety deposit boxes of jews?
Did you know that they sold back life insurance policies (from those same deposit boxes) to the insurers at 10 cents on the dollar?

Or, did you think that the Swiss made all their money from chocolates, cheeses, and watches?

Ilka
Guest

There is a big secret I’m revealing to you. It may come late in your life, but it’s still better late than never, right?

It’s never the outliers (true or imagined) that count.

It’s the average that matters.

If the average Hungarian kids keep lagging behind in PISA (behind even Polish etc. kids), if the average Hungarian employees can’t work in teams or in disciplined organizations as well as the Koreans or Japanese or Dutch or Slovaks do etc. etc. etc. than Hungary will continue to fail and lag behind and leg ever more behind the West even if you believe that Hungary is full of geniuses.

Guest

Our “old” troll under a new name shows again its stupidity with:

” That’s why Asian countries are very weak in international prizes of sciences and mathematics.”

You really should lay off whatever you’re drinking/smoking/???

PS:
Your style and your errors in grammar always give you away …

Old Education
Guest

Wolfy, you can’t complement the hard-facts and reasoning with rude personal attacks. I’ve always behaved like a gentleman in our disputes.

Guest

No you did not!
You made a lot of racist remarks (under another nick) about all of Hungary’s neighbours …
You are just a troll and I hope Prof. Balogh will ban you!

Old Education
Guest

Wolfi:

I suggest to read about the term of racism: http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/488187/racism

Old Education
Guest

” That’s why Asian countries are very weak in international prizes of sciences and mathematics.”

I’ve stated so called simple facts, you can check it easy. It is due to the nature of their colectivist societies. It has cultural roots, and not racial. Just take a look the multi-ethnic and multi-racial multicultural United States. It is world power in military, science innovation, and economy because USA has Western values and western societal norms.

spectator
Guest
Oh, come on guys! What the hell it matters, where the technology came from, as long as it produces such high revenues what makes the company highly profitable? It works! At the same time you can be so brilliant as the Sun on your own right, but couldn’t earn a dime on your brilliance… Did Irinyi earned anything by inventing the “safety matches”? How about Rubik and the CUBE, the most ingenious “toy” of the last century? Frighteningly long line of great Hungarian inventions having been utilised by someone else in some other country – you may start questioning, why? It needs serious management skills, even talent for business too to make a great idea into profitable business, that’s why! None of the skills what Hungarians (in general) excel, unfortunately. Let alone, that most of those “great moments” happened to happen a while ago. Maybe its time to realise that there is no way Hungary can live only on old glory today. Maybe its time to start really doing something too, instead of the endless complains and blaming the historical misfortune what somehow always seems to find us, and us alone, while everyone else just doing fine, thank you. Don’t… Read more »
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