London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

18-year-old Hungarian students' Perceptions about a Hungarian feature film

Author(s) Ákos Gocsál and Judit Cseh  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2001  
Editor Alistair Ross Learning for a Democratic Europe  
Language english  
Age group -  
Comments: The issue of democracy in education has developed rapidly in Hungary in the past decade. Not only is it a value system penetrating the National Curriculum, but it has been part of many educational initiatives. Among other civic and professional societies, the activities of the Civitas Association represents a good example. Two main methods of teaching democracy ? or of teaching citizenship in a democratic system ? can be distinguished. In the first the teacher imparts information that will become the students? knowledge; in the second the skills that are important for taking an active and responsible part in a democratic society can be acquired or developed through special student activities. We believe that as part of democracy teaching, other ways of community-forming should also taught, together with their value systems and roles. Students should understand that in our democratic societies behavioural patterns such as those which imply the superiority of a person or a group, or leadership forms that include elements of tyranny, are not acceptable. By recognising such attitudes and behavioural patterns, students will better appreciate the values of democracy and be more committed to it. Similar ideas are already applied in several educational initiatives. Banks (1986), whose aim was to develop education on a multicultural basis, stressed that the realisation of such a school environment should include knowledge of racism: it is expected that students will then be able to identify and fight against racism more effectively. Therefore we suggest that students should also have knowledge about leadership systems different from democracy, and that relevant experiences can be gained from various group activities. One group game of this kind, quoted from a publication of the Civitas Association (2000), divides the class into groups of four or five. Each group has the same task (they are to build constructions of toothpicks and straws) but each group follows a different way of leadership (democracy, feudalism, dictatorship, anarchy etc.). Before starting the activity, the groups draw a card from a pile on which a leadership type and the relevant rules can be found. After the activity students evaluate the constructions and discuss how their groups worked and how they felt while working. In this paper we outline the results of a related group activity. We believe that showing a propaganda film, made in 1950 during the Stalinist period of Hungary, would help students better understand that part of Hungarian history, and the expected behavioural patterns of a dictatorial system, which are easy to identify in the film.

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