A les­son not learned

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY PASCHOS MANDRAVELIS

Did Themis Kot­sy­fakis not feel em­bar­rassed when the young stu­dent sit­ting next to him on the TV panel asked, “Is there any dif­fer­ence be­tween the present sit­u­a­tion and the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship?” (“Ana­t­ropi,” Mega Chan­nel, 10.11.2014) I am not ask­ing here if Kot­sy­fakis felt em­bar­rassed as pres­i­dent of the fed­er­a­tion of sec­ondary school­teach­ers, or OLME. What I mean, rather, is whether he, as a teacher, felt ashamed about the fact that the se­nior high school stu­dent, who could have been his pupil, had not been taught and there­fore could not tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a democ­racy and a mil­i­tary junta. We shouldn’t be sur­prised that the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn scored the sec­ond-high­est per­cent­age (14 per­cent) of votes in the 18-24 age group, ac­cord­ing to a Pub­lic Is­sue survey on the 2012 elec­tions. If a po­lit­i­cally aware stu­dent such as 16-year-old Ioanna couldn’t tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a democ­racy and a junta, what can we ex­pect from an apo­lit­i­cal 16-year-old? Kot­sy­fakis, and union­ist sup­port­ers, are also re­spon­si­ble for the fact that about one in four first­time vot­ers in the 2012 elec­tions sup­ported GD. Teach­ers ought to ed­u­cate those chil­dren on the ba­sics of democ­racy, the evils of a mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship, the hor­ror of fas­cism. What was it (surely not lack of state funds this time) that stopped Kot­sy­fakis from cor­rect­ing the stu­dent and say­ing, “A dic­ta­tor­ship is one thing, while democ­racy is quite another. Even our sub­stan­dard democ­racy is far bet­ter than the junta which you never ex­pe­ri­enced. Peo­ple died for this democ­racy, dys­func­tional as it might be. The junta, which you luck­ily are un­able to even imag­ine, tor­tured peo­ple with elec­tric shocks and foot whip­ping. No, what we have now is not a junta, it is an im­per­fect democ­racy which can only im­prove when we teach you, and you un­der­stand, the dif­fer­ence”? That would be a good les­son for Ioanna, and the thou­sands of stu­dents who were watch­ing the show. In­stead, Kot­sy­fakis pre­ferred to be the union­ist that he is. The only thing he ap­peared in­ter­ested in was stress­ing the need to scrap the gov­ern­ment’s ed­u­ca­tion re­forms and “re­turn­ing to the old sys­tem.” Sure, stu­dents have a lot on their plate. They are bur­dened by a sys­tem that pro­motes ster­ile rote learn­ing. But that should not make them copy the vo­cab­u­lary of their pre­de­ces­sors. “How could any­one blame OLME and our teach­ers for try­ing to carry out their ped­a­gogic role?” Ioanna said in per­fect union speak. More like some­thing you’d ex­pect from that gray-haired union­ist.

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