Spyros Payiatakis

Spyros has held many jobs. He’s been a carpenter’s aide, a steel worker and a tour bus driver. He recently decided to start his own business, in trade. Now a student at 40, he dreams about taking classes at the Open University, a post-secondary institution which caters to working students through distance learning over the Internet. You travel a great distance every day to get here. Hours and hours. Why do you do this? I don’t know. Since I dropped out of school I feel that I lack knowledge. However many books or newspapers you read, you can’t fill in the knowledge offered at school. It’s not hard to open up a dictionary and find a word. But I had to put everything I learned into some kind of order. Why did you drop out? Perhaps my family and personal financial environment did not give me the impetus to go on. My parents didn’t care much at the time – I’m not blaming them – about education as much as money. My mother had finished fourth grade and my father probably had not gone to school at all. That kind of environment doesn’t lend itself to education. How did they react when you told them you had decided to return? My mother said: «I wish I had known better back then.» My brother made fun of me. He would say: «It’s a big decision to make at 40, isn’t it?» How do people treat you at work? I don’t talk about the school at work. I don’t hide it, but I don’t discuss it – not because I’m embarrassed but because I need to have some authority. When you finished elementary school, could you read and write well? Yes. I could read and write but I was a bad student. Bad? I was a good student but a bad one. In my generation, a student wasn’t measured by his knowledge but by his behavior. I was a little unruly. In the first year of junior high (seventh grade), the school principal caught me smoking and suspended me for 10 days. After 10 days of suspension and the beating you get at home after your parents find out you have been suspended, what can you have learned by the time you go back? If you miss even one day you can’t catch up. Are you planning to go to senior high school? Yes, I’ve decided to do it, though I don’t know how this will happen exactly. I dream big, as you see. The Open University! Through the Internet! Why not?

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