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Delmouzos P.

(Amphissa 1880 - Athens 1956)

Mpetsas Ioannis

Alexandros Delmouzos was a prominent Greek
educator and scholar. Delmouzos had been a devoted
proponent of the Educational Demoticism, a
movement connected with the renewal and
revitalization of the Greek educational system that
gradually enhanced the Greek intellectual and social
life. His contribution to the Greek educational affairs is
undeniable, as his educational activity and pedagogical work constitute a valuable
compass, even today, about a century later, for those seeking for a school adapted to
the real needs of individual and collective life in Greece (Papanoutsos, 1984).

The formative years
Descended from a wealthy family of Amfissa, Alexandros was the fourth of the seven
children of Panagis Delmouzos, a merchant and landowner who served as mayor of
the city, and Marigo Delmouzos. Alexandros retained the usufruct of family and other
incomes that secured for him a relative financial comfort during his life. In 1909, he
got married to Frosini Malikopoulou, with whom he had three children (Charitos,
1980: 234).
Delmouzos attended his schooling at his birthplace and graduated from the high
school in 1897. His school years gave him a unique critical insight into the leveling of
the students individuality in the school context. A school of thought, forcing students
to memorization of a multitude of useless and untreated information, servility and
physical cachexia, was the school type that Delmouzos strongly rejected. It was a
school detached from the interests of the children, teacher centered and anachronistic
in its teaching methods and school language (Terzis, 1998: 64-65).
After the completion of the high school, at the age of sixteen, he enrolled the Faculty
of Philosophy at the University of Athens, where he graduated in 1902. The next year
he went to Germany, where he resided till 1907. During that period, Delmouzos
worked specifically with philosophy, psychology and pedagogy. Initially, he enrolled
at the University of Berlin, where he attended courses of Johannes Volkelt, Ulrich von
Wilamowitz, Wilhelm Dilthey and Friedrich Paulsen. For a whole year, he was
working in the psychological laboratory of W. Wundt in Leipzig. Later on, he went to
Jena, where he attended courses of Wilhelm Rein, the most important representative of
New Herbartianism.
Delmouzos returned to Germany in 1920, where he spent two years and had been able
to look into the newest movement of Reform Pedagogy, both in theory and in practice.
It was during that years at Germany that he attended classes of Georg Kerschensteiner
in Munich, while also he had the opportunity to make systematic visits to various
experimental schools of Munich, the School of Teachers Association and Hugo
Gaudigs school in Leipzig. In both the periods of his residence in Germany,
Delmouzos enrolled at various universities on the basis of the teacher or the teachers
he was interested for (Terzis, 2010: 284). That fact gave him the opportunity to be
aware of different models of the Reform Pedagogy, which were sharing a common
educational aim, the child-oriented education. That was, however, the determining
cause Alexandros Delmouzos not to be able to obtain a post-graduate diploma during
his residence in Germany.

Teaching and scientific carrier
Upon returning in Greece in 1908, Delmouzos accepted a headmaster post at the
newly established Senior School for Girls of the city of Volos, a post he was to hold
for 2 years. From this position he had the chance to apply innovative radical
teaching methods, with emphasis on the development of critical thinking and self-
confidence of the schoolgirls. The implementation of comprehensive integrated
teaching, the use of the vernacular language in teaching instead of the scholarly one
[katharevoussa], the teaching of translated texts of the ancient Greek literature, the
students instigation for self-motivation, changes in the relations of teachers and
students were some of the innovations applied by Delmouzos in the school of Volos.
Despite its short run, the school has been an important milestone in the history of the
Greek education, as it was the first strong radical challenge to the monolithic and
formalistic Greek school, which was prevailing until then.
Those pedagogical conceptions, under which Delmouzos organized the newly
established School for Girls of Volos, caused severe and varied reactions from the
conservative circles of the local community, which resulted in the closure of the
school (1911). Delmouzos was forced to leave Volos in 1911, deeply disappointed
about the unfair and immoral attack on him. He himself, along with others, was taken
to the court, accused of atheism, socialist propaganda and obscenity, accusations of
which he was acquitted, as the court found him not guilty (Charitos, 1980: 361).
In 1910, Delmouzos, in collaboration with Dimitris Glinos, a scholar and reformer, the
linguist Manolis Triantaphyllidis, as well as other eminent Greek intellectuals and
politicians, constituted the influential Association for Education [Ekpaideytikos
Omilos], aiming at promoting the education reform in Greece, through the change of
the school and the prevalence of the vernacular language in the context of the so called
language question. In the early days of the 20
century, the language question had
been a fertile field on which serious confrontation of ideas and behaviours was
cultured in critical phases of the development of the Greek society. Delmouzos, Glinos
and Triantaphyllidis have been later, in the period 1917-1920, the triumvirate of the
education reform. During those years, when the vernacular language was imported by
the state in the four first classes of the primary school, the Association for Education
tried to apply its linguistic and educational program, through the force of imposition
that was ensuring for the Association its close connection with the state authority. The
attempted reform, known as the first linguistic and educational reform in the state,
followed a coordinate organisational process, in which Delmouzos and his associates
determined the priorities established in each of the dominant dimensions (linguistic
and pedagogic) and the method of the implementation of the reform. During that
period Delmouzos had been a Superior Supervisor of the Primary Education, having
an active role in the legislative preparation of the reform, the training of the teachers
and the writing of one of the most significant books ever introduced in the Greek
school; The Alphabet with the Sun (Charalampous, 1987: 90-106).
However, the political change of 1920 led to a systematic dismantling of the education
reform. Additionally, in the context of the political paths of that period, Delmouzos as
a key figure of the reform and co-author of one of the textbooks, had been proposed
for indictment, once again. Meanwhile, Delmouzos had fled to Germany, deepening
his knowledge about the movement of Reform Pedagogy.
The political landscape changed again in 1922 and one year later Delmouzos was
appointed master at the Marasleion Didaskaleion of Athens, a college for the
training of elementary school teachers. Delmouzos analyzes his pedagogical
philosophy when working at Marasleio in his book entitled Early attempts at
Marasleio (1930). Referring to the general principles, the program and the results of
his work in Didaskaleion, Delmouzos submits his educational philosophy, as an
authentic of the wider movement of Reform Pedagogy and analyzes the conditions the
educational reform could respond to the real needs of the Greek society (Delmouzos,
During the second year of Marasleions operation, vehement reactions of conservative
circles were repeated, which resulted to the events called Marasleiaka.
Marasleiaka shocked the educational and social life, justice intervened exploring
how history was taught in the school, and rumors about anti-ethnic teaching were
associated with the communist finger. Against Delmouzos and his colleagues were
filed lawsuits for anti-ethnic action, atheism and of abetting immorality, interrogations
had been carried out, and despite the dismissal of the charges against him, Delmouzos
was fired from Marasleion in January 1925. Marasleiaka confirmed the existence of
a dichotomy of the Greek society, not only in relation to the education, but also to the
wider axiological choices (Terzis, 2010: 317). That fundamental dichotomy had
apparent implications on the social and political life. Delmouzos had been identified
with the party, which was better expressing his views on the modernization of the
school and society, in general. He himself understood the reasons for his personal
persecution in relation to the ideas and perceptions he was expressing in a divided
society: It is too hard to hit an idea, without insulting its flag bearer. The war, from a
fight of ideas, becomes a war of persons (Delmouzos, 1958: 13).
The following year, Delmouzos, defending his ideological kernel of Modern Greek
Humanism, clashed with his old friend and colleague Dimitris Glinos, who was
involving the educational issue to the broader socialist transformation of the Greek
society. This disagreement led to the split of the Association for Education in 1927,
and later, in 1929, to its dissolution.
On 28 November 1928, Delmouzos was elected to the chair of Pedagogy of the
University of Thessaloniki. From this position he took the initiative to revise the
curriculum of the Faculty and established the Experimental School of Thessaloniki
University, first opened in the school year 1934-1935 (Delmouzos, 1944). The
supervision and presence of Delmouzos in the first pedagogical meetings of the
teaching stuff of the Experimental School connected the institution with the principles
of educational Demoticism (Terzis, 1998: 125). At the same time, he actively
participated in the processes that led to the educational reform of the period 1929 -
Those efforts also met with serious opposition and were intercepted once the
dictatorship of 1936 provided the opportunity to the reactionary circles. In September
1937, after a few years of university teaching, Delmouzos was forced to give up his
positions as Professor of Pedagogy and supervisor of the Experimental School. The
fascist regime with a circular of the Minister of Education was including Delmouzos
to those who sought to undermine religion, homeland and family and exhibited their
disintegrating effort as education reform (Dimaras, 1986: 187-188). Since then, he
lived in Athens until his death, December 1956. He continued to write books and
articles and to give lectures about the movement of the Educational Demoticism and
education policy in Greece.

Pedagogical conception
The theoretical roots of Delmouzos pedagogical conception can be found in the
system of ideas that evolved within the framework of ethical socialism (Terzis,
1998: 45). Individuals personal responsibility about his own fate and the fate of the
society should be assisted by the idea of social pedagogy, an educational ideal
which could harmonize social life creating moral and self-existent characters,
nurturing sincere humanism in a society exposed to socialist ideas. Admittedly,
education for Delmouzos was closely connected to the need for any society to secure
the bases of its existence and of its evolution, as well.
His educational thought has been imbued by the humanistic ideal. Delmouzos tried to
combine the ancient Greek ideal with the real needs of his contemporary Greek
society. In his specific humanist sense, Humanism will be told to create people with
strong and beautiful body with pure contemplative mind, with a strong will and love
and respect for fellow human beings [...] people capable to provide themselves, with
their own work, the material conditions of life needed human dignity to be kept; to
affirm freely the necessary commitments for the proper coexistence with their fellow
human beings and their prosperity; able to organize the life of popular wholeness they
belong so that both individuals and the whole to prosper and get better more and
more the level of material and spiritual life (Delmouzos, 1958: 31).
So when Delmouzos discusses the goals of education, he emphasizes a dualistic
aspect: he speaks of a social and spiritual edification of the individual, in order
individual freedom to be combined with societal perspectives. However, over time, he
was increasingly supporting that the Greek school should emphasize the social
direction of education (Terzis, 1998: 160).
Obviously, Delmouzos had formed his pedagogical concepts in the era of the
educational renewal of Europe. He adopted many of the principles of New Education,
in order a child-oriented school to be achieved. Self-education, self-activity,
independence, the shift in the relationship between teacher and student, the technique
of work, encouraging the development of imaginative skills, the proactive attitude of
the student in the learning process, social learning were crucial to his pedagogical
approach. However, he never succumbed to the convenience of the educational
borrowing. His life was a true example of how theory should meet practice, how
pedagogical theory and educational work could be combined. Endless hours of
observation, experimentation in the classroom are reflected in his notes, at every stage
of his educational career.

Delmouzos legacy
The contribution of Delmouzos to the introduction of the demotic Greek language in
the school enabled the expression of the students popular soul and the spiritual
renewal of the nation. The demotic language made it possible to connect the school
with life outside. Educational Demoticism was not limited to the language as a form,
but was connected with cultural origins and ideological reorientation of the Greek
society. In the field of the education policy, Delmouzos left his mark on the dimension
of internal education reform. Training of teachers, curricula and textbooks based on
Modern Greek culture and contemporary Greek reality have been specific
contributions that left their invaluable heritage to succeeding generations.

Works by Delmouzos (in Greek)
I. Prose
(1911) Like a Fairy Tale [San Paramythi], Athens: Estia.
(1950) The Secret School [To Kryfo Scholio], Athens: French Institute of Athens.
II. Essays - Studies
(1919) Towards our Educational Renaissance [Pros tin Ekpaideutiki mas
Anagennisi], Education Associations Bulletin [Deltio Ekpaideutikou Omilou], vol. 7
(1917-1919), 1-20.
(1925) Marasleio and life [Marasleio kai Zoi], Athens: Rallis and Co.
(1926) Education and Demoticism [Ekpaideusi kai Dimotikismos]. Athens: Rallis and
(1930) Early Attempts at Marasleio [Oi Protes Prospathies sto Marasleio], Athens:
(1930) Foreigners and Ourselves [Emeis kai oi Xenoi], Athens: Dimitrakos.
(1944) The problem of the Faculty of Philosophy [To Provlima tis Filossofikis
Scholis]. Athens, Glaros.
(1947) Paideia and Party [Paideia kai Komma], Athens: Alikiotis.
(1947) Fotis Fotiadis and his Pedagogical Work [Fotis Fotiadis kai to Paidagogiko
tou Ergo], Athens: Alikiotis.
(1958) Studies and Sidelines [Meletes kai Parerga] vol.1-2. Athens.
III. School Books
(1919) The ABC with the Sun [To Alfabitari me ton Helio], Athens: Estia, (in
collaboration with P.Nirvanas, D.Andreadis, Z.Papantoniou, M.Triantafyllidis and the
painter K.Maleas).
IV. Translations
(1913) Karl Ewald, The Corals [Ta Koralia], Athens: Estia.
(1915) Karl Ewald, Fairytales [Paramithia], Athens: Estia.

Works on Delmouzos (selection)
Charalampous, D. (1987). The Association for Education: Foundation, its Action for
Education Reform and its Dissolution [O Ekpaideutikos Omilos: I idrisi, I drasi tou
gia tin ekpaideutiki metarrythmisi kai I diaspasi tou], Thessaloniki: Kyriakidis Bros.
Charitos, Ch. (1989). The Girls School of Volos [To Parthenagogeio tou Volou], vol.
I, Athens: Historical Archive of Greek Youth.
Dimaras, A. (1986). The Reform that Never Was [H metarrythmissi pou den egine],
vol. 2, Athens: Hermes
Faculty of Philosophy of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (1991). Alexandros P.
Delmouzos: Educator and Reformer [Paidagogos kai Metarrythmistis], Thessaloniki:
Kyriakidis Bros.
Papanoutsos, E. (1984). Alexandros Delmouzos. His life and his Work [H Zoi kai to
Ergo tou], Athens: National Bank Cultural Foundation.
Terzis, N. (1998). The Pedagogy of Alexandros P. Delmouzos. Systematic
Examination of his Work and his Action [H Paidagogiki tou Alexandrou P.
Delmouzou], Thessaloniki: Kyriakidis Bros.
Terzis, N. (2010). Study of the Education of the New Hellenism [Meleti tis ekpaideusis
tou Neoellinismou], Thessaloniki: Kyriakidis Bros.

Mpetsas Ioannis is Assistant Professor of History of Education at the University of Western
Macedonia (Greece). He is the author of articles and books on Greek educational history.