London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Being a good citizen, competitor and entrepreneur in Hungary and in Britain: utopia or reality?

Author(s) Marta Fulop, Ian Davies, Merryn Hutchings, Alistair Ross, Mihály Berkics, Liz Floyd  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2001  
Editor A. Ross, Learning for Democratic Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
Hungarian and British teachers live in two very different economic and social systems. Changes have occurred in both countries in recent years due to rapid social, economic and technological global developments, but large-scale socio-political reorganisation may have had greater effects in Hungary than the more gradual and limited changes in Great Britain. In instances of comparatively slow social change we might expect people to balance what worked in the past with what the new situation requires; while examples of rapid and pervasive change, like that those in Hungary, may require greater adaptative technique at the conceptual, emotional and behavioural level. These dramatic changes have influenced the teachers' roles. There are two different concepts of the teacher: the educator and the instructor. Those who see the teacher as educator expect teachers to contribute to education for an active, contributing members of the community and nation, as workers, citizens, and parents. The teacher as instructor should not convey any particular social concepts to students, because this would conflict with freedom of the personality. Under the socialist regime, schools were responsible for socialising children to be good citizens and were required to instil values reflecting a 'socialist personality'. After the political changes, personal development became the almost exclusive province of the family, and the role of schools was limited to teaching cognitive skills, as in most countries in the West where the teacher is considered as an 'instructor' (Trommsdorff, 1999). In Hungary the teacher is no longer expected to educate towards producing a certain type of person - partly because there is confusion around what type of person or what kind of citizen the school system is supposed to produce in the current situation. This is the indirect cause of the lack of systematic civic education in Hungary. In the previous regime a good citizen was one who did not interfere in politics, who followed the regime's point of view. The present democratic society, however, requires active citizenship. Teachers who are now middle-aged had to change their educational attitude to meet the democratic principles of the new political system, and their general status in society has also changed. As public servants, their income decreased dramatically in comparison to others who are both highly educated and able to enter the business world. Teachers simultaneously lost both respect and their standard of living. They consider themselves the losers from the rapid structural changes from state-controlled economy to market economy. Successful entrepreneurs are the winners. Teachers are therefore in something of a social-moral crisis. Not only have the concepts of teacher and citizen changed but also the concept of competition. The ongoing political changes in the former socialist countries, the emergent market economy, unemployment and competition in the job market and the growing number of enterprises that require a competitive spirit have created a new and harshly competitive environment, characterised by scarcity of resources. Competition, formerly ideologically a banned concept, has become favoured by the media and public discourse, but there is total confusion about the personal, interpersonal and moral requirements and consequences of competitive situations (Fülöp, 1995).

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