From Ottoman colonial rule to nation statehood: Schooling and national identity in the early Greek school

Theodore G. Zervas


After Ottoman colonial rule, education in Greece became an important institution for the ideological construction of a Greek national identity. This paper looks at schooling in Greece just prior to the Greek Revolution and immediately after Greek Independence, and how the Greek national school system assisted in the construction of a Greek national identity. This paper is divided into several sections. The introductory section discusses how a newly independent Greek nation-state struggled to unite the Greek people under a collective national identity. While most people at the time identified with their families, communities, and Greek Orthodox Christian religion, after Greek independence people began to see themselves as members of a broader Greek nation. The section that follows provides a discussion of Greek education during Ottoman colonial rule, and how a type of Greek identity (centered around the Greek Orthodox Christian faith) was maintained through the Greek Orthodox mileu. The Greek Church ran schools, and taught Greek children how to read and write, as well as the virtues of the Orthodox Christian faith. Section three of the article looks at Greek education during the early years of the Greek nation-state. In this section the general contours of the Greek educational system are delineated. The section also discusses how the organization of the Greek national school system was borrowed from extant school models found in Western Europe. Section four describes the Greek national curriculum and how the national curriculum would help to teach future generations of Greek citizens what it meant to be Greek. This is further reinforced in the Greek school textbook, which is part of the discussion in section five. Section five concludes with the role of education and its implications in uniting nations from around the world.



Colonial Greece; Education; National Identity

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