NEWS

Institutionalizing education

The institutionalization of school and being shut up in school is one of the chief reasons for the increase in school violence, according to Thanassis Stamatakos, publisher of the magazine Educational Community (Ekpaideftiki Koinotita). «Until the early 1990s, pupils had five hours of school a day. These became six and now children stay at school until four, stuck in the classrooms.» Schools do not have the facilities to do what was envisioned by the Ministry of Education, he said, though all-day schools were supposed to offer a number of activities. But children lack the opportunity to leave the classroom to engage in other, creative activities. They are shut up in a space where they cannot go out and play. «You know that small children want to go to school? They want to because there, they will find other kids to play with… When class is over, the courtyards fill up. Children jump over the railings, running the risk of killing themselves so that they can play. And we make the mistake of imprisoning them in classrooms. But all-day schools were made not for kids, but for working parents.» Parents and teachers A primary-school teacher pointed out that at parent-teacher meetings, only the parents of children that did well in lessons came. «And why do these children do well? Because their parents care.» Mouyer also pointed out that parents today do not instill the discipline in their children that would enable them to adjust to the restrictions of school. For their part, parents complain that school has transferred many of its responsibilities to them. «School does not do its job properly. A lot of teachers, even in primary school, feel all they have to do is to deliver the lesson,» she said. But educators and psychologists feel that parents are not interested in what happens at their children’s school. They also stress that many parents often encourage aggression, along the lines of «hit back if you’re hit.» Stamatakos notes that «anti-authoritarian education has been trivialized beyond belief. We’ve gone from the teacher with a cane to the teacher without anything to support his authority. In Greece today, anti-authoritarian education has descended to ‘Let’s move all the children up into the next class’ and ‘Let the children do what they want.’ It has become degraded because the meaning of education has been lost. It has become a sterile training based on the easy transmission of knowledge without the formation of character at the same time. In order to socialize children, however, you have to enforce some codes. Unless you don’t want an organized society…» He felt teachers had become trapped in a vicious circle. Seeing their authority being eroded as far back as the mid-1980s, they began to give up. «But the more they give up, the more they lose their authority and the more parents lose faith in the teacher. And when the child goes to school with teachers not merely demystified but indeed made ridiculous, then it believes it has them in the hollow of his hand, that he can do what he likes.»