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← Roots and wings | Thomai Alexiou | TEDxVeria

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Showing Revision 11 created 09/20/2018 by Χαρά Τριανταφυλλίδου.

  1. Dr. Alexiou Thomai
  2. The crisis we are experiencing nowadays
  3. is first and foremost a crisis
    of moral values.
  4. Values stem from our education.
  5. The cultivation we all receive.
  6. Education and principles start
    predominantly within the family.
  7. On a second level, they stem from school
    and then pass on to our society.
  8. Believe me, if we prioritize education
    even during periods of adversity,
  9. miracles will happen.
  10. And, believe me, it is never
    too late for miracles.
  11. I believe a lot in teaching,
    but I believe even more in education.
  12. In the morals and values of individuals
    and their holistic development.
  13. According to Plato, education
    can change and define lives.
  14. It's like a second sun for people.
  15. So, let's start with the first part,
    which has to do with the family.
  16. It is the main core
    of the society, after all.
  17. What do we need to provide for a child
  18. in order to ensure
    a proper and balanced upbringing?
  19. Love?
  20. Care?
  21. Protection?
    Security?
  22. Indeed, but these are self-evident.
  23. I don't know of any parents
    who don't love their children.
  24. With the exception
    of clinical cases, of course.
  25. What children really need
    to grow up in a proper and balanced way
  26. is roots and wings.
  27. Roots, to feel that they belong somewhere,
  28. but also wings, to feel that they can fly.
  29. This expression was first used around 1920
  30. and was then used in 1950 by Carter,
  31. but, really,
    it doesn't matter who said it first.
  32. What matters is that
    something as old as this
  33. is considered contemporary and timeless.
  34. Roots and wings, quite contradictive.
  35. From this, I will move on
    to my personal story to convince you.
  36. I grew up in Kastoria.
    Yes, I was lucky.
  37. My schoolyard and house
    had a view of the lake,
  38. the swans, and the ducks.
  39. The value of this experience
    for my life and sense of taste
  40. is something I realized much later.
  41. Because some things define our lives,
    but we recognize them much later.
  42. The value of our childhood environment
  43. is something that recurs
    over and over again.
  44. Even during the difficult times
    in our lives.
  45. I am lucky enough to travel a lot.
  46. But every time I go back to Kastoria,
  47. this sense of "coming home"
    is beyond all other feelings.
  48. You go home for a while.
  49. Therefore, you go back to your self.
  50. I remember when I was young,
    while studying
  51. my mother would quietly bring me
    some sage tea or orange juice.
  52. Even today, these smells
    remind me of my childhood.
  53. They bring back feelings of
  54. warmth, comfort, security, love.
  55. My father had his own business
    and worked long hours.
  56. Still, I can't forget
    that he asked our mother
  57. to keep both me and my sister up at night
    for fifteen minutes
  58. so that he could play with us,
    at least for fifteen minutes every day.
  59. Even today, thinking about this
    moves me deeply.
  60. I remember
    when I entered university,
  61. the Department
    of Early Childhood Education in Ioannina,
  62. my mother had
    a very typical "mum" reaction.
  63. Some of you, especially the younger ones,
  64. will recognize this reaction.
  65. She said "It's so far away,
    you aren't going anywhere!".
  66. Of course, my father's reaction was
  67. "No matter how far it is,
    you are going there to study."
  68. Four years later, I went to England
    to do my master's degree.
  69. My panic-stricken mother
    came to help me "settle in".
  70. The very first day, I remember,
    she made a tempting suggestion
  71. to spend some tuition money
    on shopping or whatever I wanted
  72. and go back home to Kastoria the next day.
  73. My father's instant reaction
    to this suggestion was
  74. "Send your mother back home packing
    on the first available flight."
  75. Which is what I did.
  76. A few years later, I received
    a full scholarship at a U.K. university
  77. for a three-year PhD.
  78. It was September
    and I was working in Ioannina.
  79. My parents lived in Kastoria.
  80. I called to let them know
    and my mom had again a typical reaction.
  81. "You can't leave for three years now,
    we just brought you winter rugs."
  82. Unbeatable arguments, as you can see.
  83. My father told me not to miss
    this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
  84. From these stories, you can tell
    who gave me roots and who gave me wings.
  85. Both of which are important, however.
  86. About three years later,
    I returned to Greece with my PhD.
  87. I gave up a university position there,
    because I wanted to contribute here.
  88. For about five years, I was working in different universities in Greece.
  89. Until I found a full-time position.
  90. I want to say this
    for all the young people to hear.
  91. I had no contacts
    or parents in the academic world.
  92. In fact, my father only finished
    primary school.
  93. From the place that I am now,
    I can say he's my greatest teacher.
  94. He gave me
    the strongest wings in the world.
  95. My mother comes from a similar
    educational background.
  96. But she raised me not only with milk,
  97. but with "milk and honey",
    as Fromm rightly says.
  98. With roots so strong, I always find
    ways and reasons to go back home.
  99. What I want to say is,
    if a family is solid and strong,
  100. nothing can shatter it.
  101. No child has a problem on its own.
    A child develops a problem,
  102. if not properly guarded.
  103. From a very young age, I learned
    that I don't need expensive brands
  104. to feel that I am of value
    and, above all, to be happy.
  105. I also learned that education
    means thinking on your own
  106. and not always following the crowd.
  107. Only when you manage
    not to care about the image, thoughts,
  108. and opinions of others,
  109. will you manage to isolate the noise
    and listen to your own voice.
  110. It's not always easy.
  111. As my grandma used to tell me,
    when she was alive,
  112. "Don't ask me for advice about the future,
    but only about the present,
  113. because I have a lot
    to offer you from the past."
  114. "But if you ask me about the future,
    it is you who must decide."
  115. "Because your sun looks to the east,
    while mine to the west."
  116. So, let's move on to school education.
  117. Let's see what's going on here.
  118. A month ago, we received
    an official report.
  119. It foreshadows a bright future
    for education in Greece.
  120. I really believe that this can happen
    under certain conditions.
  121. Indeed, our school drop-out rates are low
    compared to other European countries.
  122. This means
    that our children don't leave school.
  123. I am very proud of this,
    as well as of the fact that,
  124. according to the report,
    our educators are highly qualified.
  125. Especially in this time of crisis
    that we are going through today,
  126. offering high-quality public education,
  127. for free,
    as I would like to highlight,
  128. is something actually quite significant.
  129. On the other hand, having travelled
    to multiple universities and schools
  130. across the world,
  131. I can personally assure you
    that our schools,
  132. the education quality we offer,
  133. as well as the qualification level
    of our educators,
  134. are by no means of lesser value
    compared to schools abroad.
  135. We are vastly inferior though
    with regard to infrastructure.
  136. But there are reasons behind that.
  137. What I would also like to mention
  138. are the countless opportunities we offer
    for further education.
  139. It is by no means incidental,
    and it is indeed inconcievable,
  140. how much progress
    has been done in this section.
  141. For instance, with MOOCs,
    distance learning programmes, and so on,
  142. access to education and training
    has been simplified.
  143. Namely, someone living in a remote village
    on a Greek mountain
  144. can enter an educational platform
    and without any charge, or for very little
  145. attend courses from Yale, Sydney,
    or anywhere else.
  146. These were inconceivable in the past.
  147. So, we have open access to education.
  148. To make a comment
    based on my field of studies,
  149. I'd like to say that
    one of the reasons for such opportunities
  150. is the fact that we have a high level
    of English language knowledge.
  151. The language of access to the world.
  152. Recently, since we are trying to emphasize
    English language teaching,
  153. English is now being taught
    from the first grade of primary school.
  154. I need to say, though,
    that with one teaching hour
  155. we will see no difference.
  156. These are not breakthroughs.
    They are half-measures.
  157. That was my field-specific comment.
    Let me ask something.
  158. Since we have a good education
    and our educators are of a high level,
  159. why is cultivation giving us
    such a hard time?
  160. So, let's move on to the school.
  161. Do we have love in schools?
  162. Are we ever going to add it
    to our reformation,
  163. as the dearly departed teacher,
    Mr. Tsolakis, used to say?
  164. Our schools are, unfortunately,
    even today, a sports field of grades.
  165. Their objectives are exam-based.
  166. The recent report also pointed out
  167. that less emphasis
    is to be placed on exams.
  168. We place too much emphasis on them.
  169. Therefore, we keep having obsessions.
  170. Grammar, maths, certificates of course,
    and technology more recently.
  171. We ask children to memorize information
    they will probably never need.
  172. We ask for one question
    only one correct answer.
  173. How against Socrates is this in learning?
  174. We essentially ask children
    to do things they won't need.
  175. Children lose their childhood.
    They lose unique talents in school.
  176. In our schools,
    children suffocate in their talents.
  177. Picasso used to say:
  178. "It took me four years to learn
    how to paint like Raphael
  179. and an entire lifetime to learn
    how to paint like a child."
  180. Yet we insist.
  181. We dictate pictures, shapes, letters
  182. we instruct them
    on how to logically remember history.
  183. God forbid they change
    anything in history.
  184. Mr. Trivizas is right when he says
  185. that what we need
    to cultivate in schools is imagination
  186. and innovation.
  187. This is a talent
    that we unfortunately strangle.
  188. I remember my godchild,
    back when she was three or four years old,
  189. we were drawing together,
  190. and I noticed that out of five markers,
    she was only using two: red and black.
  191. No blue, light blue, or green.
    Nothing.
  192. I became alarmed.
  193. I was looking between the lines
    for any other issues.
  194. I talked to her in person and asked:
  195. "Sweetheart, why don't you
    use more colours?"
  196. "Why only black and red?"
  197. She looked at me like I asked
    the most stupid thing in the world.
  198. In her childlike naivety she said:
  199. "But my other markers
    have dried out, godmother."
  200. I didn't even think of the simplest thing.
  201. So, let's move on to the practical part.
  202. What can we do
    to add cultivation in education?
  203. What can we do
    to guard children inside schools?
  204. Disciplines change
    and what we are teaching now
  205. might be outmoded
    in five or ten years.
  206. This is how things are,
    because everything runs fast.
  207. Humanitarian studies, however,
    never dissapoint.
  208. We need life lessons, as Mr. Yosafat
    has been saying for years,
  209. and we must begin in Kindergarten.
  210. Love lessons.
  211. Teach children empathy, ethics,
    respect for the other,
  212. what is actually the other,
    what is finally emotional intelligence.
  213. We need lessons of basic world knowledge
    that children will always need.
  214. From what to eat,
  215. because even eighteen-year-olds
    don't know how to eat,
  216. to what fills their heart
    during hard times.
  217. We emphasize all the rest so much,
    that we forget about the basics.
  218. Music, dance, culture, arts.
  219. These add quality to our life
    and can truly help us
  220. during hard times.
  221. Of course, we also need digital education
    and Internet lessons, especially today.
  222. I could, but I wouldn't like to mention
    the emphasis we place on technology
  223. in today's schools.
  224. Many dangers lurk, I can confirm that,
  225. but I am not
    among those against technology.
  226. I am, however,
    against one-sided obsession.
  227. In robotics lessons only,
    emotions cannot be cultivated.
  228. I'm moving on to the heart
    of cultivation in education.
  229. This is the teacher.
  230. Everybody in this space teaches,
    but we forget that we are educators.
  231. All teachers,
    in all levels, and of all fields,
  232. are above all educators,
    and therefore role models.
  233. Their influence is permanent through time.
  234. To convince you, close your eyes,
    and think of your favourite teacher.
  235. Of your childhood.
  236. You all recalled someone, a name.
  237. Do you know why this happens?
  238. Because, simply,
    nobody forgets a good teacher.
  239. If I ask each one of you
    why you remember this particular teacher,
  240. you won't say you remember them
    because of maths or grammar.
  241. Children don't remember
    what we taught them,
  242. but they forever remember
    how we made them feel.
  243. Therefore, the inspiring teacher,
    the one who envisions,
  244. knows that they are don't just teach,
    they educate.
  245. They facilitate learning
    and they educate.
  246. This is their main role.
  247. Moreover, they accept
    mistakes and failures,
  248. because they are part
    of the next success.
  249. Many people fail until they succeed.
  250. Therefore, we don't condemn mistakes.
    We embrace them.
  251. Finally, the right teacher knows
    that teaching stems from the heart,
  252. not from the brain.
  253. So, the example is always
    more effective than the lesson.
  254. Finally, and to conclude...
  255. to change everything,
    not just the education and family,
  256. but also the society,
    in order for it to offer the child
  257. roots and wings,
  258. we must change our mindset
    and take on our responsibilites.
  259. Change, re-evaluation of role models,
    based on humanitarian values and culture,
  260. to have meaningful education.
  261. Let's cultivate ourselves,
    enough with our image.
  262. Exupéry told us this years ago.
  263. The meaningful is invisible to the eye.
  264. The question is...
  265. The parents, educators,
    citizens of this world...
  266. Do we want to give our children
    roots and wings?
  267. I'm asking you.
  268. Do we want to?
    I didn't hear you, louder.
  269. Mediocrity and desire don't go together.
  270. Let's get pumped, open our eyes,
    open our heart above all,
  271. and let's take on life differently.
  272. Nothing mediocre fits
    or is worth it for our children.
  273. Thank you.