Special Education and Agricultural Training

Interview with the Special Education Professor Giorgos Naoumis – Part 1

In the Beginning

How can you present a topic that you totally ignore? Even worse: how can you present the important work of a friend without the obvious presentation of this work to become unilateral hymn and encomium?

The answer is rather simple and is summarized in one word: objectively.

Objectively, we will say that the island of Mytilene brought out two great men: the poet Odysseus Elytis and our friend Giorgos Naoumis.

And if the poet Elytis raised the poetic art higher with his work, our friend Giorgos Naoumis has raised and continues to raise, the art unknown to most of us who hears Special Education.

Special Education and Agricultural Training - The teacher Giorgos Naoumis
Giorgos Naoumis
In the Flesh

Giorgo, we have known many years. And this fact gives me the right to tell you Manolis or Thanassis, but at the same time it allows me to testify here, that I am sure you will say much less than what you have done, for what you have done, especially in Special Education. But let’s start from the end. Why did you become an agronomist?

As you know, I come from a rural area. Mytilene, apart from a tourist destination as an Aegean island, has had and still has remarkable size and conditions of agricultural production. Catches and agricultural products – the famous Kalonis sardines, olive groves and Mytilene oil – are recorded somewhere near the birth, in the collective unconscious of each Mytiliner.

In relation to me, however, I must tell you that then, as I recall, it was not my particular pursuit of scientifically engaging with agriculture. I just “had” to go to a faculty and one of the choices was this one too. And after I passed, slowly the ‘microbe’ of Agriculture spread and captured my whole body.

Special Education and Agricultural Training - The Fish Market of Kalloni in Mytilene
The Fish Market of Kalloni in Mytilene

And with Special Education how did you handle it?

One of the professional opportunities that I was offered after graduation was the teaching. And because, for reasons unknown until now to me, the educational act itself allways was in my interess, I became a professor. I was appointed to a technical vocational high school teaching agriculture. At some point, within the endless knowledge hunt, I attended a training seminar on Special Education.

Special Education and Agricultural Training - The Special Education School in Egaleo
The Special Education School in Egaleo

To be honest, at first the motivation was not so high. The completion of the attendance of the seminar would allow me, as it happened, to take more detachments from Chios, which was my organizational position, in Athens, where my family was.

But come slowly, again, coming in contact with these children and seeing their potential, another microbe stood in me, that of Special Education.

Special Education and Agricultural Training - An olive grove in Mytilene
An olive grove in Mytilene

Special Education and Pendulum

What does it mean to live and work with children or teenagers with special needs or abilities?

It simply means living alive. It means you are often in the state of the pendulum, where numerous contradictory feelings, joy – regret, success – failure, unfold over their entire width. In other words, it means living and experiencing extreme situations, soul-crushing and vitalize at the same time, which bring you closer to the real and essential aspect of the human condition.

But managing to climb a two steps cognitively or emotionally a child gives you ultimate incredible joy and fullness. I think that this event is based on, and let’s not overlook the expression, the erotic behavior of many colleagues but mine, in framing and as far as possible upgrading the structures of this thing called Special Education.

Special Education and Agricultural Training - Giorgos Naoumis at the gathering of olives.
Smiles and Olives

You teach and these kids are learning. Do these children teach you and do you learn?

Of course, the second is the most. You learn to learn. And you learn how to teach them. And this is because every child with its peculiarities is, like all of us, a separate human being. So the way of teaching / approach is different and you have to discover it. There are no magical recipes with absolute power. You have to be creative and inventive. Every time you have to discover a special method and find a new teaching path. And through this process you teach not only but also study and learn.

Ειδική Αγωγή και Γεωργική Εκπαίδευση - Ομαδική φωτογραφία των παιδιών με τους δασκάλους
Ομαδική φωτογραφία των παιδιών με τους δασκάλους

End of 1st Part

Grigoris Mpithikotsis – “Tis Agapis Aimata”. Music: Mikis Theodorakis (1964), Poetry: Odysseas Elytis, ‘The Axion Esti’

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