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Dispute over history curriculum

November 29th, 2018

A liberal and a left-wing columnist harshly criticize a conservative historian’s suggestion that history education should be used to strengthen national feeling. A pro-government commentator, on the other hand, welcomes the proposal.

Last week, Mária Schmidt called for a history curriculum that helps increase the national pride of young Hungarians. The conservative historian argued that Hungarian national history offers an abundant basis for strengthening a positive national identity and feeling of belonging. History education, she wrote, should be modernized. In her view, young Hungarians should study more Hungarian history, and abandon what she called the ‘linear Marxist’ approach and the underlying idea that Hungary has historically lagged behind the progress of more developed Western nations.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Sándor Révész accuses Mária Schmidt of trying to subordinate history education to politics. The liberal commentator thinks that Mária Schmidt’s proposal is aimed at inculcating in young Hungarians national myths that are in line with the government’s political ideology rather than introducing them to the difficult and complex dilemmas of Hungarian and world history.

Népszava’s György Sebes mocks Mária Schmidt’s proposal. The left-wing columnist goes so far as to suggest that the conservative historian wants to brainwash young Hungarians with government propaganda and use history to project national supremacy.

In Magyar Idők, György Pilhál finds the above accusations absurd. He agrees with Mária Schmidt that history education should focus on national history to help young Hungarians overcome widespread inferiority complexes. The pro-government pundit thinks that familiarity with Hungarian history will teach students the lesson that Hungarians are not inferior to other nations.

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