Angelos Patsias is the teacher that everyone would like to have. He is cool, pleasant, passionate and loves children a lot. What else would a kid want from his/her teacher? Love and understanding. I first met him at TEDxThessaloniki back in 2013, where he presented the work he did in Fourfoura, Crete. This year, he is in Thessaloniki, Greece with new plans and dreams about school.
You are an innovator in education. You have done very creative and experimental work in a school with a pleasant environment in Crete. What was your motivation?
I don’t feel that way. I believe that ideas are not born from scratch; they are always there, waiting for someone to bring them to life. Besides, many of the ideas that we tried, had already been tested either in the past or in other schools and countries.
How did the students react?
Children are extremely receptive to changes, given that the one that introduces them is confident and believes in them. This is what kids need from us; confidence and safety. As a result, they had questions, asked about everything and evaluated the new information. In general, we built relations in trust and managed to become their fellow travelers. This is not only a huge responsibility, but also it means that kids give you time and place to express your creativity with them.
What are your plans for Thessaloniki? Could you tell us something more?
We are going to Thessaloniki for a dream. Along with Beta Georgiadou, my mentor from School of Nature in Thessaloniki and Giannis Sotirakos from Euzein in Athens, we are creating a unique elementary school with love and caring dreams, a fact that made my decision to be involved a lot easier.
What is the “Alpha labs Thessaloniki”?
The Alpha Labs are creative thinking workshops for primary school students, that suggest that if you have a problem you have the power to solve it! The children’s ideas, when expressed freely, are really unique.
Have you ever taught students with dyslexia? How did you handle them?
I gave him space. When the teaching procedure involves crafts, discussions and arts, students who face problems with writing and reading can express themselves easier. They get more confident and realize that they can achieve more things, including improvement in reading and writing. In my case, the student’s spelling wasn’t much better, but my goal was to make him read and write better. We achieved that and he became an active member of the class.
What do you believe that students expect from their teachers and their school, in general?
Some students once told me that they want Jacuzzi (laughs). Actually, they need patterns; mentors that inspire them, that stand by them, supporting their dreams and teaching them how to make them true! And most of all love and interest! How can you learn anything if you don’t admire the person that teaches you?
How do you visualize the school of the future? What must be done?
This is a huge issue to discuss. Without doubt we must pay attention to the pre-school age when the vital principles are imparted to the children. Nevertheless, even if we find this supreme methodology to implant everything into kids’ mind, it will be useless if the teacher is not a human being with empathy for his/her students. If he / she doesn’t embrace the values and the morals that the society in the future should have, the teaching would be futile. Teachers are the key! I am sure of that now!