Thursday, November 08, 2007

Educational battleground

A while ago i discussed a controversial issue here in Greece, namely the new Greek primary school books which were opposed by elements within the Orthodox Church and especially the right wing party LAOS. Faced with this opposition, the ruling party, despite lack of opposition from the major opposition party, withdrew the primary school book, marking a step backwards for history and independent thought.

Now doing the rounds is an email apparently quoting an investigative paper To Thema with excerpts taken from a Turkish school book. The context of the article is a little suspicious, as it starts of with a criticism of the progressive school book before launching into its 'revelations'. Sitting here in Athens it is of course difficult to verify its allegations, nor the context in which these selective phrases were chosen from. But to briefly summarise. It quotes a History Book it claims is taught in the Turkish school system, titled: Turkey's rights in the Aegean (Ege Denizinde Turk Haklari). Page 19 the article claims states 'The islands of the Aegean are currently under Greek occupation' Page 65 'Peace in the Middle East and security in Asia is possible with the return of these islands to Turkey' and on it goes.

My immediate reaction was one of disbelief an anger 'How dare they (Turkey) write and teach such things'. It was only when i reviewed the article later on that same day that i really started to question it and started to see the sub-context of the article. What the article is really saying was 'Look at what the Turks say, so why can't we say what we like in our history books!'.

This of course does history a disservice. A true historian has to painfully become dispassionate and see the events in history for what they are, without emotions or nationalism clouding their vision. So in any event, it is irrelevant what others say as long as Greek eventually does the right thing. It does show however that it is easier to 'do the right thing' when everyone is reading from the same page, denying extremists the opportunity to shift the focus.

1 comment:

Hans A.H.C. de Wit said...

what I hear from (foreign) teachers, children are indoctrinated from an early age, like they, Turkey, are at war.
and you have to learn and don't discuss what has been taught as a good friend once said.