Students participating in the Onassis Foundation Summer Schools. Photo: Supplied.
The Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and the S. Onassis Foundation Cultural Centre non-profit organisation welcome to Athens 250 students from Greece and other countries of the European Union, the USA, Australia and Asia, for a three-year program to participate in summer schools.
The Summer Schools project is an independent and integral project within the broader framework of the European project ‘The Academy of Plato: Development of Knowledge and Innovative Ideas’, which is being implemented jointly by the Athens National and Kapodistrian University (EKPA), the Onassis Foundation Cultural Centre non-profit organisation and the Foundation of the Hellenic World.
The program constitutes a multidisciplinary educational intervention with the most contemporary and appropriate methodologies of lifelong learning, it addresses different age groups and is inspired, as its title suggests, from Plato’s Academy. Plato’s Academy was well-known as a leading spiritual centre in ancient Greece. It determined the philosophical and scientific thought, and contributed to the shaping of modern civilisation. Through an educational procedure, the program aims to offer guest students the chance to really familiarise themselves with Greek historic figures, events and sites that have influenced global history, science and culture.
The Onassis Foundation summer schools are essentially a journey into knowledge, as the high school guest students are introduced, during their stay, to modern Athens and Greece, to Greek history, philosophy and culture from antiquity to date through contemporary and attractive teaching methods.
Summer schools last a month and are divided into two two-week cycles. In this time, a theoretical interdisciplinary approach is applied to the history of Greece and its people by means of a diachronic examination of the local history, thought, speech, science and art. At the same time, guest students from abroad are introduced to contemporary Greece, meeting the city and its people, their everyday routine and life. In an attempt firstly to escape the repetition of the cognitive process that children, in Greek schools mostly, experience during their school years, and also for the program to be comprehensible to children visiting from abroad, given that this was considered new knowledge for those children, theoretical knowledge needed to be linked to living experience, and speech, image and live stimulus to be merged into one whole. The course cycle is accompanied by lectures, visits, walks, workshops and activities through which children can absorb the knowledge they have acquired through experience, can apply it and add to it.
Based on this reasoning, the courses are divided into separate thematic sessions on Greek history, literature, art, the course of philosophical thought, the technological and scientific achievements of Greeks in their country and abroad, the material and everyday life of modern Greeks. Greek children and children from abroad meet, collaborate in joint events, and have fun together, exchanging experiences, concerns, thoughts and setting the foundations for future relationships. Through this comprehensive study program, summer schools emerge as efficient tools for social and cultural development.
Since the inception of the idea, the working group of the Onassis Foundation accepted that summer schools are a significant venture and focused on two axes that would ensure the program’s success. Those were the multimember educational procedure and the appropriate coordination of all teams so that both guest students and escort teachers return to their countries safe, satisfied and full of new images and experiences. The feat of organising this year’s summer schools proved demanding and challenging right from the start.
After the study program had been finalised, the first challenge was to set forth the selection criteria for schools in Greece and abroad to ascertain which would be eligible to participate in the Summer Schools program – after all, the applications were many and the available positions limited. As far as Greek schools were concerned, the first selection criterion was for them to be located outside Athens, in the countryside, then for them to have participated in certain actions for collaboration with other Greek or foreign schools, or their children and teachers to have displayed significant presence in extracurricular activities. For foreign schools, the first criterion was geographic dispersion. Then, schools with a classical study curriculum which teach Ancient Greek were favoured, and finally, schools which participate in actions trying to probe into the Greek civilisation and the dissemination of the Greek language.
In the first two journeys into knowledge which took place in two cycles in the summer of 2012, the participants from Greece were students and escort teachers from the 5th High School of Ioannina and the 2nd High School of Kilkis, as well as students and teachers from the Lycée Galilée in Combs-la-Ville, France and the Klasična Gimnazija in Zagreb, Croatia. The pilot program was crowned with success.
The Onassis Foundation continued this project in the summer of 2013 by hosting 70 students from the High School of Rodolivos, Serres (Greece), the Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden from Leiden (Netherlands), the National High School for Ancient Languages and Cultures ‘St Constantine Syril, the Philosopher’ from Sofia (Bulgaria), the Institut du Sacré-Coeur from Mons (Belgium) and the Frederick Douglass Academy from New York (USA).
This year’s summer school started last week with the participation of students from Adelaide, Granada Spain, Beijing, New York and the Greek region of Evros. So far more than 190 high school students have taken part in the program.
The project is financed by the European Union (European Social Fund) and national resources through the operational program ‘Education and Lifelong Learning’.
For more information on the Summer Schools, you can visit the project’s website at www.plato-academy.gr
source: Neos Kosmos