- of Apostolos Spyrakis
In the fifties 1880-1930, aggressive Greek nationalism was on the rise moving basically around the axis of the Great Idea and achieved the linguistic and cultural homogenization of minorities such as Vlach, Slavic and Arvanite – it is estimated that by the end of the 19th century, the a third of the Athenians and the inhabitants of Attica spoke Arvanite. An even more important achievement of this period was the massive expansion of mass education, which brought about the impressive literacy of 85% of Greeks, who could read and write in the second decade of the 20th century, when half and now the population of the country lived in villages, many of which did not exceed 300, even 100 inhabitants, who lived in houses with dirt floors and the only decoration was an image of the Virgin Mary hanging on the wall.
The Greek origin of the associate professor at North Park University, Dr. Theodoros G. Zervas, was the occasion for the study of the conditions in which the children's psyche was formed for fifty years. The author in his book, among other things, also focuses on the important role played by informal learning (children's literature, shadow theater, songs and completely special traditions) in shaping the personality of children, contributing to their indoctrination with the ideas of a culture that it had origins in Byzantium and antiquity and gave depth and power to the spiritual identity of the Greeks. A multitude of well-known writers and intellectuals were at the service of these educational and cultural pursuits, with prominent ones being Nikolaos Politis, Penelope Delta and Zacharias Papantoniou, author of the famous reading book The High Mountains , which was accused by experts like G.N. Hadzidaki for the use of the colloquial language and the cultivation of communist tendencies, so that he finally withdrew from the schools in 1921. Of particular interest to the author are the cases of Christos Christovasilis, Alexandros Papadiamantis and Nikos Kazantzakis, who were educated in this environment of nationalist and Christian education during the aforementioned period. All three of them experienced the education system and the impact of informal learning in a completely different way, and their literature echoes the extremely interesting perspective of each.
The power of the philosophy of nationalism has been proven historically, as it has managed to survive all the rapid rearrangements that have occurred on the planet. In the case of Greece, it caused catastrophes of incalculable importance, such as the Asia Minor Catastrophe, which put an end to the imperialist ideas of grand idealism, but despite all the distortions that had to do with the compulsive learning of conservative and arteriosclerotic texts (Christomathia), one must admit that worked positively to shape the state of the modern Greek by producing a series of invaluable cultural creations, which constitute a solid basis for the development of a healthy society. The conclusion of Theodoros Zervas concerns the duty of the elected State to evaluate everything that is worth channeling through the mechanism of education, which maintains its value despite the terrifying storm of information and influences through the internet. In an environment whose course no one can estimate, as it moves through a chaotic world, education cannot fail to play a key role once again in shaping the generations that will be called upon to take their destinies into their own hands. future.
Learning to be Greek
Formal and informal education during the development of Greek patriotism (1880-1930)
Theodoros G. Zervas