Sometimes the toxicity of public debate and the endless political gossip make you forget why you can and should be optimistic. But a breath of fresh air helps you regain your strength. It acts as an antidote to the prevailing, excessive cynicism and the momentum of the forces of inertia that want nothing to change in this country.
A few days ago, I had the good fortune to visit two schools in Halkida, Evia, the 9th Elementary and the 5th Model Middle School. At the elementary school I found a group of teachers with incredible love for their work, and it was obvious they had passed it on to the children. The students spoke with great interest, curiosity and composure about things that interested them. You could see in the general atmosphere what a difference it makes to have dedicated teachers who are open-minded and strive against the problems and the negativity. I am certain that the students who graduate from this elementary school will be well-educated and will have a great future.
On the other side of Halkida, another school hastily became a model school but seems to have won the title in practice. The occasion was a meeting with a group of students organized by Junior Achievement Greece, which aims to inspire children to create a virtual company in competition with other students from around the world. At the beginning of the conversation, the idea was found for the company they would like to set up: one to promote products from various places on the island of Evia, which suffered huge destruction from last year’s wildfires.
All these things happened in the classroom, in the group. However, the 5th Middle School of Halkida also has an aura of innovation, from the interactive whiteboards, new computers (donated by the committee “Greece 2021”) and the board game made by students on the medieval history of Halkida, to the tables where students play chess during their break. There’s obviously an inspired principal and dedicated teachers that make all the difference.
Of course, nothing comes easily. The school building was cold, the bureaucratic restrictions on accepting donations are inconceivable. But it is a school where you understand that if it stays on the same trajectory for several years, it will produce exceptional pupils. The pandemic has made us all understand the importance of public healthcare. But we must all support public education, without outdated and stupid pseudo-ideological obsessions. And by all, I don’t just mean the state, but also the private sector, the institutions, every Greek in or outside of Greece, who feels the need to offer something to the country.
The rich have and indeed we all have an obligation to give the new generation the opportunities it deserves. We owe it to the children, but also to Anthoula, Giannis, Vasso, Ioanna, Kostas and all the other teachers who fight doggedly and with passion for their work.