Saturday, February 10, 2007

A postcard from the nineteenth century

Today I was helping my daughter (aged seven) with her homework and she asked me to check put some exercise she'd been given to do over the weekend. As well as the usual times tables she asked me to look at the following activity;

For those of you who don't read Greek, it is a declension of masculine, feminine and neutral nouns in Greek along with with an exercise which asks them to give example of various tenses such as present perfect, future simple etc.

For anyone who studied Latin or Ancient Greek, I'm sure the format is familiar, however, trying to teach young learners in this fashion is madness. It shows an almost total lack of understanding of the way in which children learn. Imagine teaching a second grader English by asking them to list the differences between the present perfect continuous and past simple. The ironic thing is that I can't help my daughter with these exercises because I never bothered to learn the ludicrously complex (not to mention outdated terminology) used to teach syntax in Greek. Instead, I actually went out and used the language to read, write, speak etc.

The exercises Lydia has to do are all set out by the ministry of education and have to be followed to the letter by teachers in elementary school. (see here for the curriculum and material). I'm starting to believe the the school curriculum in Greece is the longest suicide note in history. How is this generation going to compete in a global economy where their peers learn skills at, say ten that they won't till they reach university, if at all?

If you believe that this is an exaggeration then tell me where in the country students in the public education system can do what these American fourth graders can?


dorapap said...

I have told you before that the teaching techniques in other languages are really obsolete. I learned the Greek grammar this way also and this was 30 years ago!

Barbie Forever said...

True, how long long can Greece afford to put up with such an obsolete system? Either we change now gradually or we are forced to change radically in the future.