Learning by discussion rather than absorption

Apart for the comments in the Athens Academy report, what else will be taken into account in any changes to the book? All the observations we have received. We will study them with due attention and to the extent that they are compatible with the detailed syllabus and the stipulations for the writing of new textbooks and their entire philosophy, we will include them in the revised version. We hope that all this debate among the public, the team of writers, the community of historians and the state will benefit the book. I hope the same for our history education and culture in general. Do you think the book will be absorbed by pupils in the fifth grade on the basis of their knowledge and the teaching method applied in the first five classes of primary school? We don’t want them to absorb it. We want to support a learning environment in which children study, discuss, think, draw conclusions and in that way learn history. Otherwise there would be no need for a change. We could have the previous books and claim yet another world record, that of keeping the same schoolbooks for 20 years. Another record we can claim is for writing books or criticizing existing ones without having bothered to see what they are replacing or looking at their counterparts in other European countries. What are history books like in other European countries? They are far more oriented to European and world history than our books. There is more than one and they are written by teams of academics, historians and teachers who are specialists in their subject. They set the children questions and organize the material in such a way that the questions can be answered. Their basic material combines text with historical sources in such a balance as to undermine the primacy of the text. They include different forms of textual and visual material. And this is because they follow contemporary approaches to teaching history. To what extent did the size of the book restrict the detailed presentation of historical figures? The text book has no size limitation; it has a disproportionately large amount of material. How big should a book be for a child of 11 or 12 who has history lessons twice a week? Other European states use shorter textbooks with fewer pages, or a larger book that is for the first three years of primary school. The problem is the vast amount of material the book must cover. And that was not the choice of the team of writers. It complied with the demands of the syllabus. This is something that must change so our books, our teachers and, above all, our children can breathe. As for historical figures, our perception is that all people are historical figures, historical subjects, given that by our actions, thoughts and initiatives we influence events, and we have an effect on developments. This perception is not absent from the book. Nor are national heroes absent. What is absent is the identification of historical figures with national heroes.

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