The 3 years that my son has been within the care of the greek education system have been pure agony. He is a half-Finnish, half-Greek 8-year-old boy, fortunate enough to have inherited the whole package of Finnish introversion, rough humour and need to live within a respectful environment and unfortunate enough to have to introduce this package to insecure, underpaid, educationally misled and narrow minded greek teachers.
At kindergarten I was advised by the co-owner of his private school to visit a speech-therapy clinic. I asked whether he thought there was any problem with his speech and he answered that he wasn’t too sure, but there was certainly something weird about his behaviour. I could not understand why a speech-therapist would be a good idea for a child without speech problems, but he continued spitting out generalisations about his unwillingness to participate in group activities. Finally I asked him what was his profession and he answered “well I work in a speech-therapy clinic, but I think this is quite irrelevant”. Of course I started laughing spontaneously and did not mind that much that this may have come as an insult to him, but it didn’t, he continued his vague argument. The next day his ex-wife and other co-owner appologised for her ex husband’s behaviour. Later on I found out that several kids had been advised to visit speech-therapy clinics without having any particular speech impairment… I suppose this is how the market for this overdemanding underachieving education works.
Oh well I thought to myself lets see what happens next! So I made sure I did the best I could for my son and enrolled him to a state school supervised by the university of Athens with experimental teaching methods and a quite good reputation. Third year in and I can tell you, it’s been hilarious – teachers with PhDs on the verge of nervous breakdown, endless pages of homework, conservative parents aged between 45 and 55 stuck in the dark ages of beating and punishing their kids for talking back, a parents union with a secretary we are forced to pay with advanced alzheimer’s disease and a very bad temper, parents involved in a mysterious network of ridiculously expensive buses providing transport for the children and the list goes on.
And here we are, year three of primary school. This year we have had the indescribable pleasure of being taught “christian religion” twice a week. I ask him: “so what does god think about all kids?” and he answers “that they are blessed…” and we both burst out laughing. They are also being taught greek mythology, you know the 12 gods of Olympus and the rest, which really helps a lot with developing a realistic understanding of the world. “Oh poor Darwin” I exclaim, “who could have warned you, that you would be a zero in the country where modern European civilisation was born”. And this is the method we use in Greece for the production of educated neurotic freaks who have learned to view learning as torture rather than a tool. Well it’s either that or maintaining a standard of sanity and being called socially maladjusted or a bit of a weirdo.
Well, I can still laugh having one foot in a developed, rich country, such as Finland, but I was tinking, imagine being from a soft, kind, altrustic society, such as a Tanzanian one (just an example I am familiar with), oh you’d be labelled seriously defective then, wouldn’t you?
Oh well, better shut up now and be encouraging while he copies 4 pages of text for tomorrow and be a good example by letting him do all the swearing! After all I am trying to raise a responsible human being… or was it neurotic? Oh darn, can’t even remember anymore.