OPINION

On public schools, ‘Macedonia,’ vested interests

With great admiration

Re: ?A Greek Odyssey: 1821-2201,? by Nikos Konstandaras (March 27, 2011). I want to register my opinion that Mr Konstandaras has written one of the finest comments on the nature of Greece and the Greeks that I have read since I first visited Milos in 1963. I am a Belgian citizen, a permanent resident of Zakynthos and a philhellene. Over many years, Greece has become my spiritual home. And my love of the Greek people has been continually wounded by the problems and paradoxes expressed in this editorial. Let us pray that we do not fall back into the vortex portrayed in the Costa-Gavras film ?Z? and that we will be rescued by the spirit of that other great Z, Zorbas.

LIVY MERCHANT

SENIOR LECTURER

BILKENT UNIVERSITY

ANKARA

Hidden costs of a ?free? public school education in Greece

As a product of the US public school system and private universities, I can’t help but be frustrated and disappointed as a parent with three (soon to be four) children attending public schools in Greece. The so-called «free» public school education is anything but that, with the added irony of home schooling being illegal, yet it is in fact how many, if not the majority of students actually receive their «real» education.

As each of my children entered primary school, their various teachers have emphasized one important role we have as parents. That is to spend several hours each day working with our children and teaching them the very things they are supposed to be taught at school. By any definition, this is home schooling and the teachers justify it by claiming to be overburdened with large classes, few resources and not enough time.

Talk for example, my eight year old son, whose teacher blames his poor performance in her class on a «learning disability.» She also blames us for not spending more time working with him at home, and required us to hire a private teacher, at a cost of 400 euros per month, to teach him the various subjects she is supposed to be teaching him.

Interestingly enough, by spending six hours per week with his private teacher, my son has caught up and now surpassed his classmates in the curriculum provided by his public school teacher. In fact, he’s doing so well, his public school teacher has sent notes to his private teacher asking her to slow down and not get too far ahead of the rest of his class.

The question begs then, why is my son, who has been labeled learning disabled by his public school teacher, able to learn the same subjects in six hours per week with a private teacher, when his public school teacher failed miserably at her job teaching him with thirty hours per week of class time?

I see this same paradigm with many other students whose parents are paying for private lessons in various subjects that their children are having difficulty in. In every case, the public school teacher recommends private lessons rather than helping their student overcome their difficulties. In some cases, it’s my understanding that parents are paying the same public school teacher for private lessons to teach their children the very things they are not learning in class.

During the last teacher-parent meeting, my wife addressed these issues to his public school teacher. Rather than discuss them, my son’s teacher turned to the other parents and asked, «Why aren’t you defending me?» The parents stood by and said nothing, while the teacher attempted to stop my wife from continuing to voice her concerns. What then was the purpose of the meeting?

When attempting to discuss this and other concerns with the school headmaster, his response was that we are not qualified to discuss our children’s education with him, because we do not have a degree in education from a Greek university. The arrogance of his comment is mind-boggling — I rather suspect that my own education, with three postgraduate degrees earned during my career is of a significantly higher level of education than he has or will ever attain.

In looking for the root cause of the problem, my wife and I have come to realize that it is the parents who are to blame for this situation. We allow the public school system to continue to perform poorly, be unaccountable and we simply accept whatever they tell us to do. Until we stand up as parents and fight for our children’s right to a quality, free, public school education, nothing will ever change.

I ask every parent to consider the high cost of the so-called free education our children are supposed to receive and to refuse to accept or allow this situation to continue. It’s time that public school teachers be held accountable for doing their jobs properly and for parents to stop having to pay the price of these public servants? failings.

MICHALIS KOTZAKOLIOS

A Response to Slobodan Kutlesovski

I am a Macedonian and have always regarded myself as Greek. I can trace my roots in Macedonia back for seven generations. My wife is from Bitola / Monastiri.

I asked my wife’s grandmother, who is 90 years of age, ?Babba when you were a young girl were there any Macedonian schools in Bitola?? Her reply was that there was only Greek and Bulgarian schools. My older brothers went to a Greek school and later my youngest brother to a Bulgarian school.

Why didn’t they go to a Macedonian school?

The answer is: I don’t think there were any.

Speak to some of the old folks in Kostur and Mala Prespa regions of Aegean Macedonia and they will verify that they were either Bulgarian or Greek.

As a matter of fact I’m not too fussed about the name as long as the Slav Macedonians claim their Slavic ancestry. It really upsets me when the Slav Macedonians claim to be related to the Macedonians of antiquity.

Genetically due to the mix of ethnicities in the region due to the Turkic invasions, I’m sure that people caught up in border alterations developed a different language from their forefathers.

The key issues here however are about what the ancients claimed to be (Greek) and what language they spoke (Greek). All these claims I’m making are written facts from ancient sources. For all I know, my ancestors were probably Bulgars/Turks/Greeks. But that is not the point. The point is what the Macedonians were (Greek).

If and when the Slav Macedonians declare the Hellenism of the Macedonians of antiquity as the academic world has done for centuries, the majority of Greece will not have a problem accepting our Slavic/Macedonian brothers.

Slobodan you are trying really hard to prove that the Macedonians weren’t Greek, but you haven’t given one shred of evidence that they were Slavs.

I ask you this: The ancestor of Macedonians was Makednos who was the son of the king of Arcadia Likaona. Do you know where Arcadia is?

Prometheus has a son. His name was Deukalion. Deulakion had 3 sons: Achaios, Aiolos and Xouthos. From Achaios and Aiolos became the achainian and aiolian race. From the sons of Xouthos: Doro and Iona came the Dorian and Ionian race. These 4 races create the Hellenic nation.

Could you please tell me or show me an ancient Macedonian inscription which is written by the language that you speak in Fyrom?

Why were all the Macedonian names and ancient monuments in the Greek language?

Why did Alexander have a Greek name and not Slavic?

Why were the Greek gods on Macedonian soil?

Why does the Bible refer to Thessaloniki and not Solun?

Why? Why? Why?

Why do the founders of Rom declare their Bulgarianism (ie Kriste Misirkov) etc.

Why did the Macedonia times write the following:

It is true that «the Giant (Misirkov)» declared himself as a Bulgarian, while Goce wrote in Bulgarian. Most probably many of our ancestors felt Bulgarian, Greek or Serbian. There is no reason to hide this or to be ashamed of this.

Why did Alexander the 1st declare himself a Hellene?

Do me a favor ask your grandfather what church he went too in Macedonia prior to 1944? I bet he was affiliated to the Greek or Bulgarian one.

The modern Greeks speak the same language as the ancient Greeks which includes Macedonia, Sparta, Epiros etc. I admit that the modern language was since refined but the root words are the same, it’s got the same foundation, the people speak a derivative of ancient Greek. This friend gives us the right to call ourselves Greek Macedonians.

In the Slav Macedonian case you claim to be Macedonian yet you denounce the Ancient Macedonian language (Greek). This is well documented and accepted amongst the intellectual community.

And don’t forget to ask your grandparents what church they went to. I don’t want to hear that the Turks didn’t allow the poor Macedonians to have a church which is why they were forced to go to a Greek or Bulgarian church.

Pozdrav Serres Makethonia

Drowning in vested interests

You are absolutely correct to state that a radical change in the bureaucratic landscape that governs this country is desperately needed to facilitate Greece’s exit from the current crises. The focus of late has been on the sale of State assets as well as encouraging foreign direct investment to act as a catalyst for the economy. What our officials fail to realize is that the current systems of laws and regulations act as a large barrier and a deterrent to any interested investor to seriously look at Greece as a viable destination to invest their hard earned capital. What explanation can there be for the Government’s deficiency in addressing this issue except that they are acting on behalf of some vested interest. Greek politicians accuse the rating agencies of not being truthful and acting on behalf of speculators, please tell me, what politicians have been truthful with the Greek public?

PETER CHRESAN