Silencing Citizens Through Censorship: Lessons on censorship in Hungarian schools

On 19 and 21 April and 8 November 2016 learning activities developed within the EUROCLIO project Silencing Citizens through Censorship were successfully piloted by Zsolt Vódli in Hungary.

The first piloting event in spring took place in the form of two workshops on Hungary’s dictatorial past and censorship at the vocational school Roth Gyula Erdészeti, Faipari Szakközépiskola és Kollégium, reaching out to a total of 57 students between 18-20 years of age. The focus during the workshops was on the concept and mechanisms of censorship, parallel developments between then past and the present and relevance for the student’s personal life. The content of the workshop was part of the final history examination which 12 students excelled, receiving the highest grade.

On 8 November 2016 the learning activity Isn’t it a great time for censorship? was tested during a two-hour lesson on 24 students with an average age of 16. The lesson started with a plenary discussion on censorship where students got the opportunity to share impressions, associations, opinions as well as personal experiences with censorship. They then got tasked with critically analysing records provided by the Index of Censorship (IoC) to learn about current problems regarding censorship around the world.  After studying two original visual sources from Poland under the communist regime the pupils were presented with the topic of blocking information with the example of the iron curtain during the Cold War era.

Feedback was primarily positive with students responding that they found the activity engaging and thought-provoking, finding many examples of censorship from their personal and their parents’ lives. Suggestions were to slightly restructure and redesign the power point presentation and to improve the picture quality of the visual sources. Language presented the main obstacle as they were studying either English or German, making it necessary for the teacher to translate the material beforehand.

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