At the second international afternoon tea of 2016, Sára Hatony and Ildikó Lázár reported on a European project against violence in schools, Lucia Kákonyi updated us on CIDREE news and Tamás Peregi presented the book The First World War in History Textbooks of Hungary and the Neighbouring Countries.
The project of the Council of Europe involved Montenegro, Romania, Poland and Hungary as participants, and Greece as project leader. The Hungarian team included our colleague Sára Hatony (from the Eurydice Office) as coordinator, Balázs Fehérpataky (HIERD) as consultant and Ildikó Lázár (lecturer from the Department of English Language Pedagogy of Eötvös Loránd University) as expert. Their partners were primary colleagues from schools with extended afternoon school day programs, vocational schools and teacher training institutes. The topic – bullying and violence in schools – was explored through a literature review, focus group interviews and comparative studies about the 5 participating countries. The kick-off meeting of the project took place in Podgorica, then a second meeting followed in Athens where the research done so far was evaluated, and the closing event was held in Budapest on 9th April 2016, with the goal of disseminating the results, which will also be available in a book (it will be translated into Hungarian and published online). The main objective of the project was to review recent research results on anti-bullying policies, initiatives and best practices on dealing with school violence (be it psychological, verbal or physical) of the countries involved. A new call will be made to advance the project, for which every participant can apply again. The Hungarian team of researchers and trainers also held a practice-oriented interactive workshop on April 11th to a group of 20 interested and committed teachers, trainers and representatives of NGOs. The workshop introduced the participants to some good practices that help prevent or combat bullying at schools and encouraged colleagues to network and share their experiences and expertise.
Ildikó Lázár highlighted the importance of the commitment of the whole school to tackle this problem. The “whole school” approach can be very successful, that is, if bullying is addressed together and in cooperation by teachers, students, parents, the school leadership and possibly local NGOs. She added that it is of pivotal importance that the school be a democratic organisation. The challenge in Hungary is that there are a great number of good practices, however they exist in isolation and do not form a network. Anti-bullying programs are often tied to a certain teacher or developed for a given school, and this makes it difficult to disseminate them. Good practices include the use of restorative techniques, the teaching of conflict management techniques to a group of teachers or the whole staff and in general the efforts made by all players to create a pleasant atmosphere at schools. Dr Lázár presented the example of the buddy bench, where children who feel lonely can sit, and their peers then know that they should talk to them or invite them to play. This is only possible in a school culture of acceptance, respect and cooperation, which could be founded by the more extensive use of learner-centred approaches and cooperative learning structures during lessons. This would reduce stress levels and would convey the message that everyone counts and we depend on each other.
A discussion followed, then Lucia Kákonyi, the international coordinator of the HIERD updated the participants on upcoming CIDREE events and the status of our yearbook chapter, which our colleagues Márta Hunya and Mária Szabó are writing about the complex instructional program first adopted in Hungary by the primary school of Hejőkeresztúr.
The third presenter was Tamás Peregi, the editor of the book on the presentation of the First World War in the history textbooks of the successor states of Austria-Hungary, published by our Institute. The work on the book started in 2014, the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It is important to know the reasoning of each other’s historical perspective here in Central Europe. The seven analyses were all conducted according to a common guideline, which included the text of the history books, the ratio of topics (politics, war events, the home front and the situation of women etc.), the sources, maps and pictures used and the image they create about Hungary. Both minority (Hungarian language textbooks for ethnic Hungarian students living in the country) and majority textbooks were analysed. As both of these have to go through an accreditation process, their point of view is not that different at all. The authors of the chapters also give a short overview on history teaching in their countries and the structure of the history curriculum (for example it is common to learn twice about the First World War, first in primary school, then in secondary school, as in Hungary). The question of translating the book into the languages of the neighbouring countries also came up, as this would be an important step to increase mutual understanding.