Contact person: Eugenia T. Meletea
Organisation: APOLLON International Interactive Educational Network
Address: P. O. Box 61123, Amarousion 15110 Athens, Greece
Talent Support in Greece
Although we can find the basic ideas of talent support in Classical Greek philosophy – Aristotle, for example, laid out the basis of his pedagogy in The Nicomachean Ethics or Politics - and although the word ’talent’ itself has been derived from the Ancient Greek language for use in our European and global cultural heritage, talent support is not given its proper place and recognition in the present Greek educational system.
Although there are Greek high schools specialising in the needs of children keen on music and sports, the so-called ’prototype schools’, which had a much more flexible curriculum on offer and focussed more on individual educational needs thirty years ago, no longer exist. In public schools awareness of the basic concepts, methods, benefits and challenges of structured talent support is almost nonexistent. The public education system cannot adopt the terms and support the actions required in this particular field. There are some private schools which claim to offer special care for gifted and talented students, but they do not often give appropriate and competent support. The Latseio College in Athens provides a good example of an educational institute with a competent programme for students who are more able in Mathematics.
As is reflected in the lack of awareness of the needs of gifted and talented children in public education, there is a long journey ahead to increase understanding at all levels in Greece, including in educational policy making, teacher training and in society at large. Social stereotypes concerning gifted and talented people also make the situation of local advocates of talent support challenging, as the urge for a more inclusive approach in education, by responding to the educational, social and emotional needs of more able students on an equal level to all other students’ needs is often misinterpreted as elitism. The category of special needs education is only used for students with (learning) disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Groups and individuals who are active in the field of gifted and talented education in Greece are exemplified by the working group of the National and Kapodestrian University of Athens, School of Medicine (G. Sapkas, Ev. Meletea, Eu. Meleteas, L. Thomaidou and their colleagues). Their interdisciplinary group focuses on a variety of issues in a range of areas of talent support (i.e. performing arts, sciences, sports etc.) with a particular interest in early talent identification and a harmonic/balanced development process. They organize international conferences, conduct several pilot programmes and run a joint graduate program with the cooperation of the National and Kapodestrian University of Athens and the University of Connecticut in the USA. In addition to this, they are active in national talent advocacy work at policy making level and develop diverse online tools and networks for furthering gifted and talented education. For further information on their activities and their next conference on gifted and talented education to be held in Freiburg, Gemany on September 2-5th, 2011 please see here: http://www.apollon.edu.gr www.excellence-con.eu. The conference is entitled ’Excellence: Education and Human Develoment’.