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“Eight years ago, we started an LVE Newsletter in Hungary” reported Sophie Fried, President of the Hungarian Association for Living Values (B.É.K.E.= PEACE). “At that time we were thinking about how to give sustenance to teachers and parents who attended LVE programmes. Because they were living in different parts of the country, it would have been difficult to come together. Yet we wanted to learn from each other and share our experiences. Since then, the function of the newsletters has become broader. Every newsletter has a structure in which everyone can find something relevant. Usually we put some news about our activities, our partners’ activities or our mutual activities. There is another p
art about new trainings and workshops. Then there are sharings from Hungary, LVE activities around the world and news about our LVE Association. Between each section there are slogans about values.
Some of the benefits: Definitely those of us who use LVE know much more about each other than before. Our sharing allows us to grow and we feel that we are not alone. Through the newsletters people can be encouraged to start or do more with LVE. When someone is interested in knowing more about LVE methods or programmes, the newsletter can help them learn – and it creates a connection for the future. Teachers are proud when their writing is published; many send it to their colleagues and friends. All the newsletters are posted on the international website, on our Hungary Country Report page. The newsletter is also a very good tool to introduce LVE activities here and worldwide, and to spread the importance of values in all of our lives.
An additional benefit: From time to time, teachers in Hungary have to put together a portfolio about their professional life and take exams. Last year a teacher who is a member of the Living Values Association in Hungary used her contributions to the newsletters as part of her portfolio. Now she is followed by other teachers. So our newsletters have been useful as a record for what they have done on the field of values. I’m sure that in the future the significance of our newsletters will increase.”
Edina Szász, a teacher of English as a foreign language, shares her experience at Kandó Primary School: “The title of this article is taken from the motto of Kandó Primary School in Budapest, Hungary: ‘Our main aim is to transfer knowledge and human values to our students.’ This concept means that the teachers want to focus on school subjects as well as human values.
Kandó Primary School is an eco-school, a Talent Point and Pre-qualified Reference Educational Institute. It has 750 students aged 6–14. If a school is a Talent Point, it means that it offers special opportunities for gifted and talented students. Kandó Primary School offers a wide range of activities such as extra English lessons, projects, competitions, after-school lectures and clubs in many fields.
Hungarian children start learning English, according to the National Curriculum, at the age of ten. If they are talented in English, they can have extra English lessons at school. When I plan my English projects for talented children, I follow the motto and I show a preference to "green" and Living Values Education topics. According to my point of view and experience, the functional use of English in the English lesson makes language learning lively.
In my article, I would like to give an account of my PEACE PROJECT. I will answer the questions: With who? Why? How? When? With what results?
I teach English as a Foreign Language to children aged 10–14. The Peace Project was planned for a group of teenagers who showed a talent for English. Because of their talent, they had two extra English lessons a week. It was a great opportunity for them to have five English lessons a week instead of three for in a four-year period, but it was also hard work. About 75% of these students wanted to go to a secondary school specialized in English. My twenty year-8 students, age 14, showed signs of relative agony because of preparing hard for their secondary school entrance examinations. They felt they were in a "squirrel cage" with the everyday primary school routine of going to school, extra lessons and tests, doing homework and preparing for tests before returning to school again. So they construed the Hungarian educational system and life in Hungary as torture for teenagers than a great opportunity. I wanted to change their attitude and give them a positive motivation. How?
Peace is the foundation of happy life. Peace in our country is natural for our youngsters and that is why they did not appreciate it. Health, family and education are also very important values. It is a typical syndrome that the ones who have them are not grateful for them. I wanted to show my students that Peace is not natural on planet Earth, that they are very lucky that there is no war in Hungary. They also complained about going to school, having extra lessons every day, doing homework, etc. Every Hungarian child must go to primary and secondary school. They think the whole world works like this. It was time to inform them that a huge number of children do not get this chance.
As my students (thanks to our great Information Technology teachers and well-equipped Information Technology classrooms) were taught how to make PowerPoint slideshows, I decided to give them a task to make a PowerPoint presentation or a poster in English focusing on the different aspects of Peace and the lack of Peace. This task can be done only by students with good level of English.
The first presentation took place on 11 September 2013. It was the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attack against the USA. I started the Peace Project with a commemoration of 9-11 2001. My students worked in groups. They had to tell the sad events of the day with the help of photos and articles. They had been very young, about 2 years old, when the terrorist attack happened. They told me that after this English lesson many of them watched documentaries or films about that tragic day. The terrifying events touched them and they could easily understand why they should be grateful to have peace in Hungary. I felt this fact would also be a good base to build their inner strength.
I did not want them to leave the classroom in a shock, so our first student presentation took place at the end of that lesson. Éva Molnár made a beautiful poster with peace symbols and the peace prayer of The International Maitreya Project. We displayed this poster on the corridor wall and everybody could read the prayer and see the symbols of peace.
After that lesson we had two to four student presenters every week. Most of the time the presentations took place on Fridays, so Friday became a sort of ‘Peace Day’. The last PowerPoint presentation was mine because I did not want to influence my students. The whole process took about three months. I wanted my students to use their creativity freely. I gave them four criteria: a topic, 10 slides, 3 aspects of their topic (personal life, Hungary, World) and the task was to combine internet information with their creativity. Covering three aspects of a topic was very difficult for them. But this task forced them to think about themselves, their motherland and the world.
I wanted my students to have very interesting English lessons where they could learn as much about our world as possible. "Peace" as a topic is too general. I did not want to see twenty presentations about peace symbols, so I listed some topics the students could choose from.
I find ‘shock therapy’ useful. It can open people's eyes quickly. Unfortunately seeing the reality on planet Earth can be a shock therapy: wars, terrorism, child soldiers, war orphans, hunger and poverty in Africa, suicide and anorexia in the West.... We had all of these topics in the class. My students were watching with wide open eyes their teenage classmates' presentations about these dreadful things. After the 'shocking reality' presentations, they realised that grade C English or Maths tests or family and school rules cannot be construed as a big tragedy or cruel torture.
As a positive pole, we also had the topic of peace symbols, peace days, peace movements, Nobel Peace Award winners, inner peace and peace in religion, peace monuments, peace prayers, peace walks, peaceful nature and peace songs....
Some words about the results:
My whole English group, included myself, learned a lot about the world during the project. Of course, we improved our English, creativity, and digital and presentation skills. My students could develop their self-esteem. The project widen their knowledge about the world and taught them to appreciate Peace, Health, Family and Education in their life. My students' attitude towards extra tasks and extra lessons also changed after the Peace Project: 90% of them chose to take an English mock-exam higher than their level to test their knowledge before going to their secondary school and preparing for their real intermediate language exam. Unsurprisingly, some of them could pass the B2 mock-exam, and all of them achieved good results at their real English entrance examination of their secondary school. As you see, my student became braver and mentally stronger. I hope the project helped them to be ready to use the opportunities that life offers them.
As the presentation was an English task, I gave them a grade. Though the grades were good, my students were not sure that they did a great job. They thought that I was only good-hearted to them. That is why I was very happy when Zsófia Fried told me that this project with some PowerPoint presentations could be in the newsletter and on the Hungarian Living Values Facebook page. When I wrote a short letter to the parents asking parental consent, I also wrote some basic information about the Living Values Educational Program. I think, it is a good thing if parents know what is going on at school.
The students had to do the research and create the PowerPoint slides at home. They are very lucky to have a computer with Internet at home. They could email it to me for checking before giving the presentation in the class, or they could asked their parents to check it. I think it is good if family members can cooperate.
My English group was also asked to present at least one Peace presentation at our school English PowerPoint Talent Day. On this Talent Day children aged 13–14 present their best English PowerPoint Presentation in front of the students of their year.
While my students were speaking English, they were learning about "the big wide world". They could also see their own life from a different angle. It made them revalue the events of their everyday life.
According to my point of view, extra English lessons are not enough for talented students. They also need a "mental training" which makes them strong enough to reach their full potential and form their social conscience. My students have learned about several people and organizations working on peace and helping people in need. In this way, they may join and work with them or establish new organizations and create new projects in the future. So they may help to make planet Earth a better place to live.
Who helped us in the Peace Project? In general, everybody who has made steps on the path of peace before us and who help people in need. In particular, the supporting parents of my students, our great Information Technology teachers, who taught our students how to make a PowerPoint presentation, our headmistress, Márta Magyar, who determines the principles of our school and continuously develops the institution and promotes innovations. I would like to express my special thanks to LVEP and Zsófia Fried and her team (Living Values Education, Hungary). Zsófia drew my attention on the free peace lesson plans on the website www. livingvalues.net and gave me the book Living Values Activities for Children 8–14 by Diane Tillman. She also emailed a PowerPoint presentation with music that inspired my students. Her team converted my students’ PowerPoint slideshows into short videos. One video has nice background music as well. In this way you can see them on the facebook: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFsmxpS-zSDFNFnwWaGhaYg/videos.
LVE activities have become diversified in Hungary. We are no longer only in schools, kindergartens and parenting groups. An example of this is our work with various competitions and quizzes. Increasingly popular in Hungary, often only the winners enjoyed the competitions. Four years ago, we were asked to resolve this situation! We began by participating in the national finals of an environmental competition organized by the Curie Foundation in the town of Szolnok in Central Hungary with the feeling that everyone could enjoy a competition. Our result was that our inventions reduced children’s worry, tension and fear about competitions.
Our approach is different every year. We began with the competition "psychology,” helping participants realize that they become enriched with knowledge during the preparation. Focusing on that, they were not disappointed when they did not win in the finals. At other times, we discuss the non-physical aspects of environmental protection: the importance of the quality of our thoughts, feelings and words which create the atmosphere around us. They did well with the understanding that negative thoughts (e.g. we did not win) can also pollute!
We also shared our observations about the good qualities, for example, giving respect, cooperation and simplicity, of the elements of nature (i.e. earth, air, water and fire) throughout activities. We explored approaching the elements with the same qualities in order to turn them into our friends rather than our "enemies." As a result of these sessions, we were invited by the Bihar Foundation, Földes in Northern Hungary to participate in more children’s competitions. The teachers there prepared the sessions conscientiously and with love. We exchanged experiences and suggested that they direct the children’s attention to their inner values as a preparation for the competition or ask them to explore how the competition itself could emerge values from the children. The values are enduring and useful in everyday life – lasting far beyond the competition.
Each year, the Hungarian Red Cross organizes a ‘first-aid' competition for primary and high school students in the town of Komló in Southern Hungary. This year’s competition brought something new; two of the trainers had a very useful proposal. During breaks, short conversations were held regarding the seven principles developed and used by the Red Cross. We discussed the following: humanity, unity, universality and impartiality. Questions came up such as, “What kind of human qualities does a good first aid provider have?” and “Did you think about it when you decided to take part in this competition?”
In the spring, the primary school at Kandó tér in Budapest organized an English language competition with the following slogan: “I believe that every person is born with talent.” (Maya Angelou) If an event is organized with a slogan like this, the message is clear for all.
Everyone feels like a winner in these competitions. Our LVE association, “B.É.K.E.”, helped to fill the time between the competition and the award ceremony. We could feel and see the ‘result’ from the atmosphere of a group session. See this video – https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B95DcRH0d-C5REltMmE0bE5uTzA/edit?usp=drive_web It is important to know that half of the teaching staff of this school had already attended the B.É.KE. (LVE) refresher course; the organization shows that the application used by teachers is efficient. During these workshops, teachers, pupils and parents are mostly together, which is invaluable. Our next newsletter will show that the effects of these workshops last longer than those of the competitions themselves.
The following was written by one of the teachers participating in this year's Curie competition.
“I tried to remember your words, but only some feelings emerged: calmness, love, and happiness. I remember your present at the end, the tiny plastic diamond. You said we each have values. It has helped me already to motivate myself when I was down. It was also helpful when I tried to inspire a child with disabilities to act in another way, though he believed that he was unable to do so. I realized that he was very good in other activities, and he enjoyed them. I understand now that each of us is a valuable pearl; the angle from which we look at others is important. We are all brilliant from a special view. As teachers we help children to see themselves and be real stars from many different angles. We make them shine.”
“I did not really expect anything special to happen during the distribution of the values cards, but at the end of the celebration I observed a little girl collecting all the cards. I asked what she was doing. Sophie told me that she planned to hang them on her Christmas tree. ‘As decorations?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘you know these nice cards must have been written by angels and if I take them home, my daddy in Heaven will see that I love him very much.’ As she stared at me with her big eyes, I felt the huge love of this tiny girl. “You know the angels who wrote these cards, don’t you?’ she asked. I thought a long time about how to respond but her pressing look demanded an answer and I answered, ‘Yes, I know them.’ ‘It’s OK,” she said. “Wish them Merry Christmas.’ As we spoke, she tucked all the cards into her little bag.
Sophie Fried, President, ALIVE Associate in Hungary
The following events occurred recently:Many educators tell us that they put a greater emphasis on values in their private as well as in their professional lives once trained in the LVE approach. Their number is increasingly growing; they are feel that LVE encourages them, and is a confirmation of the importance of what they are doing. Educators report that working with values reflects the areas (respect, cooperation, etc.) where they need to make more effort. In addition, LVE also provides very simple methods that create support for everyone. Some educators already familiar with LVE, choose to participate in refresher courses. Some had discovered the LVE guidebook in Hungarian in their school library and used the information to work with values.
The use of LVE in health care programs at schools is also popular. These are certainly good opportunities to highlight our values. We organise activities around different values and sometimes include a peace corner to show the effect of visualisation.
In the last few years, we have begun organising parents' clubs at schools, nurseries, libraries, and community centres. These generally involve 10 to 12 meetings,
but in some places parents' clubs have been working for four to five years.
Our association newsletter has been published twice annually since 2007. It mainly reports national experiences of teachers, educators as well as participants' responses to trainings. These personal experiences also encourage our readers.
We always discuss international news and experiences in our newsletter. For example, webinar conferences and ALIVE Assemblies are reported including web conferences and live events. We also featured Paulo Barros' (editor) Book of Poems - Valores, Poesia e outros Sentimentos, from Forteleza, Brasil. Mr. Barros collected the best poems written by children over a period of ten years. In our newsletter, we published four poems in Hungarian as well as in their original language of Portugese. In the beginning, we started publishing newsletters with the aim to keep in touch with those who completed the refresher course. Now, the newsletters play other important roles. For instance, they are very good tools for promoting LVE widely and for introducing it to others. A number of people have contacted us based on the articles in the newsletter.
The Curie Foundation organises national competitions for Maths, Chemistry and Environmental Protection for students ages10 to18. In the past four years, our association has been represented regularly by two of its members in the national Environmental Protection competition. On one hand, we participate as judges, on the other hand, we organise optional activities for children and adults. As a result of our work with the Foundation, we received a request to contribute to the work of the Environmental Talent Care Council. In this way, our association was presented with another opportunity to raise awareness about values in the field of environmental care. We have already organised such a workshop for teachers.
Our sphere of influence extended to a very interesting field starting in the autumn of 2011. We received a request from the Moravcsik Foundation which provides art therapy and work therapy for people with mental disabilities. Since then, we have regularly organised activities for their clients. One of the participants wrote a short article about LVE activities in the local newspaper. After publishing this article, some local inhabitants wanted to participate in these activities. This was also made possible with the assistance of the Foundation.
In Hungary, club-like activities have been launched at two locations for adults outside the educational sector.
We continue to make the most of all opportunities to promote LVE.
In the pictures you can see parents and educators engaged in an exercise expressing each other's genuine good qualities. Every one was very happy to realize how others could see his or her inner good.
In December 2004, the National Association of LivingValues (Association to Develop Our Inner Values) was registred officialy. The acronym for the association, B.É.K.E., means PEACE in Hungarian. From that time all the activities, events of Living Values in Hungary have been organized in the framework of "B.É.K.E.". Our first step was to renewed our permission (accreditation) of refresher course for educators, which was given by the Ministry of Education in June 2005.
In April 1998, we applied to the Ministry of Education for an authorization for a course for teachers (30 hours/4 days) with the title, "Our Inner Values – International Educational Program". The course is for teachers teaching children from 6- to 18-years old at schools. At the end of 1999 we received permission from the Ministry for Education to start the refresher course. In Hungary, every seven years all the teachers have to take courses accredited by the Ministry of Education – up to 120 hours. With the authorization of the Ministry of Education this course became an accredited one.
The first officially accepted refresher course (postgraduate training) was held in Szob at a primary school (Fekete István Általános Iskola) with 30 participants from 23 to 26 June 2000. Sue Emery, the LVE Coordinator in Greece and one of the international trainers, was invited as a trainer. Up until 2007 more than 100 educators (teachers and kindergarten teachers) finished the course.
Many of them started to implement LVE in different ways. Some of them have used the method of integrating LVE into their subjects in the classroom, others have used LVE after school, in special study circles for relaxation, for special values events or in different events of the schools. Some of them have organized summer-camps with values activities with the aim of creating deeper relationships between the teachers and students, and between students.
Till now eight teachers have finished the LVEP TTT (Train The Trainers) in Oxford.
Do I need the Living Values?
The parents responded:
"…we really have to stop, seek and experience our inner values, which strengthen and give us a base of comparison, especially in our daily life full of tensions, expectations and uncertainty."
"These words might be the best to invite young and older parents and grandparents to the paren group lead by Sophie Fried, where our being together means a real recharging (filling up) ourselves, rethinking our opinions and beliefs, which seemed firm and bringing to light many small ideas and making experiments.""I, who organized these meetings every month since April 2006 and brought up two children with a balanced family background, never thought that I could get some newness from these workshops. But all my doubts disappeared. What has happened? About ten people after their daily work, tried a different means to become themselves. The recipe seems very simple – from the 12 values we have choosen one and analized its meaning. The communcation of those values in our everyday life have given us many challenges, but during the workshops we have known more and more not only about the values and how to use them, but about ourselves, our old habits which could be melt. To think, to "work", to play together as well as the soft music has created such an atmosphere. We have been able to liberate and open ourselves while remianing focused. The real benefit for me is what I have gotten from the others in the group – the joy of sharing, giving a smile or a kind word to each other – and seeing how many different ways we could understand, approach, and look at the same value and the same situation."
In the framework in the National Association (B.É.K.E.) we have developed methods and ways to make LVEP more known in Hungary.One of our last demonstrations was an LVE Peace English lesson in a framework of a pedagogical professional day (on 26 October 2006) in a town called Érd where 26 teachers from different schools and the representative of the local municipality participated. The aim of the lesson was to show how you can create a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere with the help of soft, relaxing music, visualization exercises, brainstorming and mind map techniques. The teacher, Kaderjákné Bartkó Éva, finished the refresher course in 2004, and she has used and developed the methods of LVE in many different ways since that time.
Four primary schools, one kindergarten and one library