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One of the first 25 schools founded in the Prefecture of Rethymno was that of Fourfouras, since it was founded in 1850. ##

Children from Vizari, Platania and Kouroutes studied there.

In 1889 it was recognized as A / level and was re-established in 1899 during the Cretan state as a two-story building, with the first building being built in the same year, near the cemetery and towards Vizari.

In 1900-1927, from time to time, a lower girls' school operated in houses and in the church of Ag. Paraskevi.

The first teachers they taught were in 1850-1869 Astrinos Chalkiadakis, 1869-1880 Konstantinos Manolitsakis, 1880-1895 Stelios Karabasakis (from Vizari)

The new building was built in 1931 and in 1940 most of the students (95) studied with their teachers Nikos Psaroudakis (Apodoulou) and Maria Simantira.

The school is now 4 / seat and is attended by 45 students from all the surrounding villages (since there are a total of two others in the Municipality of Amari, at Apostolos and Platanos).

Pioneered by the director Angelos Patsias (2011-2015) and in collaboration with Giannis Manolakakis and Giouli Bosdelekidou, they applied a special methodology and gave children several initiatives and experiences, with activities and self-creations, so that the school is called "School of the Nature and Colors ".

## Republished by RETHEMNIOTIKA NEA, by Lefteris Kriovrysanakis



"The first time I went to Fourfoura, I got lost," says Angelos Patsias, the school principal. The instructions they gave me were: "Wherever you find a crossroads, left". There were no signs, so I did not know where I was going. But the scenery was fantastic. "Two years later, I still haven't had enough."

Angelos Patsias, together with the other teachers of the school (Kiki Kourtoglou, Giouli Bosdelekidou, and Giannis Manolakakis) have made some very important changes in its operation in relation to those provided by the instructions of the Ministry of Education, and this resulted in their experiment being heard far beyond Rethymno and Crete. Their effort was praised by the Minister of Education Anna Diamantopoulou, while Angelos Patsias spoke about it (and excited the public) at TEDxThessaloniki. I met him at a mall next to the Ministry of Education a few days before the end of the school year, where he had come with his students for a short film award ceremony, and we talked about school, children, and how it can be to share the "germ" of innovation in education.

"In the first year I was the director, but there were three of us all - next year a fourth came - so in fact together we decided everything," he told me. "First, we started by changing the layout of our classrooms, our workplace. We made a single room into two classes, we took out wardrobes, we put sofas, we made such decorative interventions, before the school year started ".

But then the changes continued, extending to the way the classrooms work, to the activities inside and outside the classroom, even to the very name of the school that changed, and became "The school of nature and colors" .

Every school must spread its spirit. Let everyone put their own idea, adapt it, try it, fail, and let others copy it and try it on their own.

"We made the changes gradually, along the way, in the classroom, with the children," says Patsias. "We arranged the teaching hours. We have a bell for the break, and we ring it whenever we think the lesson should stop, not a specific time. We had two flexible hours a week, and in them we put the elective courses. Each student could choose from two elective courses: Photography, Theater, Gymnastics, Dance and Visual Arts / Constructions. Each class was attended by children of all ages - so a freshman could learn to dance with, say, a sixth grader. "One of the first things we did, too, was Fourfouras TV."

"Fourfouras TV" is a blog in which teachers upload videos they make with the children, from songs and dances, to the history of Egypt, physics experiments, and communication messages with other schools in Greece.

"All we needed was to get approval from the parents for their children to appear in the video. We had our doubts at the beginning, of course, but the result is very satisfactory. The children felt that they had a voice that could be heard. They developed relationships with other schools from all over Greece, something unthinkable. It is very important that children learn in communication and cooperation. "

The school opened up to the society in another way.

"The most important changes were the turn to nature, the fact that we gave a rural character to the school. We wanted the children to have such an orientation, to have access to such activities ".

The school now has a garden, two tents where the children recently "camped", while various visitors come from time to time and talk to them about their work, something like an early career orientation. There has come, among others, a beekeeper, a captain, farmers, ranchers.

"I wish we could put the henhouse we want," says Patsias.

If all this is more reminiscent of kindergarten activities than a formal, strict school, well, it's no coincidence.

"We are deliberately making a turn towards the kindergarten", says Patsias. Unfortunately, what until recently was a high school curriculum is now a fifth grade curriculum. But the child's mind is not ready. In this way we force the child to grow faster, to mature faster. They are children, they have to play football, get dirty ".

In this context, the children began to make more educational trips.

"It was a great experience when we took the children and took them to the University of Heraklion to watch a video conference," recalls their teacher. "Children from many schools gathered in a room with microphones and cameras and talked to children from other schools in Greece. It was something amazing. The lesson they learned from this experience The lesson they learned from this experience does not compare to anything. I first went to university when I was 18 years old. They saw it at 8. They learned that the large university amphitheater can accommodate their entire village and an additional half. They saw for the first time in their lives a black man, a student. They immediately turned and looked at me. The discussion that followed cannot be replaced by a geography lesson in a classroom. One man showed them the whole geography of the world. That is where racism strikes. We leave children in the lurch of television, the misinformation, and extreme views that some parents may have. Of course, I also understand the contradiction. Not all schools can be equally extroverted. In city schools it is not easy to get children out. "But we cannot build education based on fear."

At one point, our conversation was interrupted by Mrs. Dina from Fourfoura, who took a walk in the shopping mall with her daughter Alexandra, a blue-eyed doll. Mrs. Dina was not happy with the gastronomic choices of the mall. The children, teachers, and parents, before going to the Ministry of Education for the award ceremony, had spent the morning at the Acropolis, walking around the Museum and the Parthenon.

"There is an issue here," Angelos Patsias later explained to me. "The Acropolis Museum is an amazing museum. But a child wants to run among the statues, to enjoy the space with a good activity that he/she understands. Because what is the benefit he/she will get from the museum? Of course, there are practical issues, but children cannot understand the historical significance of the exhibits. The experience for them has a different content. Then we went up to the Parthenon, and the adults were all amazed by the monument, but the children cannot understand the value of its history. "It is old", you tell them, and they do not understand it well, "and my grandmother is old" they tell you. You cannot convey this enthusiasm to them. They get excited about other things, their own. With the view of Athens, or with the Chinese tourists. The accompanying teacher must be prepared for this and offer them the best possible experience. Mrs. Irini, in charge of the Archaeological Museum in Rethymno, which is amazing, has understood just that. It demystifies the museum for children. We take them there and he makes them dance and do pantomimes in the museum ".

Listening to Angelos Patsias speak, one gets the impression that he is someone with a deep theoretical background, an experienced connoisseur of modern education. But Angelos is just a graduate of the Pedagogical University of Xanthi, who four years ago was appointed a teacher in Rethymno.

"We made all the changes intuitively," he tells me. "Now I am in the process of reading, learning more. But so far, we are moving taking inspiration from the results we deiver. When you enjoy work, you see that children enjoy it, and they learn at the same time, you understand that you are doing something right ".

And the question that arises, of course, is this: In what ways could the successes of these changes be universally applied to more structured schools?

"I want to make a leap in time to see what these children will be like in fifteen years. I have no doubt that they will become good people. I am sure. Let them do what they want. Models, shepherds, as long as the people of the village sees them and says: they are better villagers "

"I think it's a matter of virus," ​​Angelos Patsias tells me. "Every school has to spread its virus. Let everyone put their own idea, adapt it, try it, fail, and let others copy it and try it on their own. I have contracted the disease from Nektarios, a teacher who works at a school in Rethymno and has built a garden for children. There he fights, gets dirty with the children, goes to school in the afternoons to take care of it. I saw that and I said, I like it. This is what we need to do, to find better ways to teach children. You start by stealing all the ideas. The teacher must steal, it is his profession to steal. You go and see another enlightened teacher, and you copy what he does. That is why I think Rethymno has very good schools. "Ideas are circulating there."

A few days after our conversation, the school year will end in Fourfoura with the traditional theatrical play. Afterwards, Angelos Patsias will return to Drama, where he comes from, and will marry his wife for the second time (they have already had a civil marriage, now they will also have a religious one). But he will not wait for the new school year to return to Fourfoura. Early August will be back to see what changes are needed at the school. And he is already thinking of new ideas.

"Yesterday on the boat that brought us here we met a school from Chania. Well, at night the whole class was lying on the floor sleeping on a mattress, the teachers all around and the children in the middle. I envied it very much. It was perfect. What a good tie. The children have to demystify their teacher in some context. They have seen him lying down, his socks smelling along with theirs, how can they not hear him in what he will tell them later? It is another form of bonding that you acquire with the child that way. "Now I have to think about how we will arrange the mattress."

Concluding the conversation, and after explaining to him how he will get from the Neratziotissa station to the Nomismatokopio station, I ask him the reasons why he is doing this job. He tells me three things.

"At the point we have reached, the work we do is volunteering. When you think about gasoline, the kilometers, you come to this conclusion. But our work is a function. We work for the children. And in the village, we have fantastic children. I am glad they like it, what can I say. Fantastic children. If you build them with courtesy and extroversion, they will build a new world ".


"I want to make a leap in time to see what these children will be like in fifteen years. I have no doubt that they will become good people. I am sure. Let them do what they want. Models, shepherds, as long as the village sees them and says they are the best villagers ".

"I remember my teachers. I had Mrs. Stella in the first and the second year, Mr. Paschalis in the fifth and sixth. After a certain age you do not remember why you love your teachers. Will they remember me?”

This text was written by Thodoris Georgakopoulos.