In Greek history, the term Krifó scholió (Greek "κρυφό σκολειό" or "κρυφό σχολείο", lit. "Secret school") refers to supposedly illegal underground schools for teaching the Greek language and Christian doctrines, provided by the Greek Orthodox Church under Ottoman rule in Greece between the 15th and 19th centuries. The existence of such schools is today believed by most Greek scholars to be a national myth.
It is sometimes said in Greece today that the Ottoman authorities prohibited education in the languages of non-Muslim subject peoples. Greeks were therefore forced to cater for their basic education needs through small, secretly organized underground schools, which were run illegally in monasteries and churches. Supposed sites of such secret schools are today shown in many places in Greece.[examples needed] These schools are often credited[according to whom?] with having played a decisive role in keeping Greek language and literacy alive through the period of Turkish rule.
However, most great Greek nationalist historians or writers such as Constantine Paparigopoulos (in his multi-volume "History of the Greek Nation) or Dragoumis, never talked of "krifo scholio" and never based their work on it.
Against this view, most historians now agree that there is no historical evidence that such schools ever existed. Within the Ottoman millet system, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was responsible for most aspects of civil administration for the Christian population, and it had a high degree of autonomy in running its own affairs. Hence the church was free to run schools wherever it desired. The existence of many public, legally operated Greek schools is in fact well attested, especially in the larger towns after the 17th century, although the church never went so far as to organize a full-scale school programme for the whole of the population. Much schooling was probably done through small-scale, privately organized teaching in churches and monasteries, but there is no evidence that such activities were illegal or repressed.
Τhe myth of the secret schools emerged after Greece had begun its War of Independence in 1821. The first mention of such schools has been traced to 1825, in a work of the German scholar Carl Iken, quoting information given to him by a Greek scholar, Stephanos Kanellos. The notion of the secret school became more popular and more entrenched in the collective memory of Greeks through a painting of that name by Nikolaos Gyzis, of 1885-86 (today in the Emphietzoglou Collection, Athens). It depicts a romanticized scene of such a school, with the venerable figure of an old orthodox priest reading by candlelight to a group of boys and young men in the traditional attire of Greek klephts.
Απ' έξω μαυροφόρ' απελπισιά,
πικρής σκλαβιάς χειροπιαστό σκοτάδι,
και μέσα στη θολόκτιστη εκκλησιά,
στην εκκλησιά, που παίρνει κάθε βράδυ
την όψη του σχολειού,
το φοβισμένο φως του καντηλιού
τρεμάμενο τα ονείρατα αναδεύει,
και γύρω τα σκλαβόπουλα μαζεύει.
Outside, black desperation,
tangible shadow of bitter slavery,
but inside in the vaulted church,
the church which assumes every night
the shape of a school,
there is the shivering light of the candle
lighting up the dreams
and collecting the children of the slaves from all around.
There is also a popular nursery rhyme, sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, attested since the 19th century, which perpetuates the notion that such schools typically took place at night for greater secrecy:
Φεγγαράκι μου λαμπρό,
φέγγε μου να περπατώ,
να πηγαίνω στο σκολειό,
να μαθαίνω γράμματα,
του Θεού τα πράματα.
My little bright moon,
shine on my way,
that I may go to school,
to learn to read and write,
read and write and study,
and the teachings of God.
Among scholars who argued against the existence of the "secret schools" as early as the first half of the 20th century, Angelou lists the historians Dimitrios Kambouroglou, Manuel Gedeon, and Yannis Vlachoyannis.
One of the few scholarly works that has seriously argued for the existence of such schools was written by G. Chassiotis in 1881; Gritsopoulos has also published works supporting their existence, though allowing for the continuation of Greek-language higher education in Constantinople in the early Ottoman empire. Outside the scholarly literature, there continues to be considerable support for the existence of these schools.
Another approach accepts that Ottoman administration did not try to forbid Greek or Christian schools, but argues that patriotic ideas, national consciousness and modern Greek history were spread through secret lessons given in secret places, by nationalist teachers.
- Hedge school, in Irish history
- Alkis Angelou, Κρυφό Σχολείο: το χρονικό ενός μύθου (Secret school: the chronicle of a myth), Athens: Estia, 1997.
- Christos G. Patrinelis: "Η διδασκαλία της γλώσσας στα σχολεία της Τουρκοκρατίας" ("Language [i.e. Greek] teaching in schools of the Turkish period"). In: M. Z. Kopidakis (ed.), Ιστορία της Ελληνικης Γλώσσας (History of the Greek Language) Athens: Elliniko Logotechniko kai Istoriko Archeio. 216-217.
- Hellinomnimon Project: "Greek Higher Schools (1620-1821)". University of Athens. [dead link]
- Antonis Danos "Nikolaos Gyzis's The Secret School and an ongoing national discourse". Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 1 (2002).
- Ioannis Polemis: "Το κρυφό σχολειό" Online text of the poem (in Greek)[not in citation given].
- George Chassiotis: L'instruction publique chez les Grecs: depuis la prise de Constantinople par les Turcs jusqu' à nos jours. Paris, 1881.
- Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece, Το Κρυφό Σχολειό: Μύθος ή Πραγματικότητα;, 2007
- Giorgos Kekavmenos, Το Κρυφό Σχολειό κι η Ιστορία: Οι πηγές, οι μαρτυρίες, η αλήθεια, 2008
- Kyriakos I. Finas, Το Κρυφό Σχολειό: Μύθος ή Πραγματικότητα;, 2007[dead link]
- Fanis Kakridis, Άσκηση από-απομυθοποίησης: Το Κρυφό Σχολειό, Δωδώνη: Φιλολογία (University of Ioannina) 308-309:279-295 full text
- Alkis Angelou, Κρυφό Σχολείο: το χρονικό ενός μύθου (Secret school: the chronicle of a myth') (Athens: Estia, 1997) ISBN 960-05-0770-8.
- George Chassiotis, L'instruction publique chez les Grecs: depuis la prise de Constantinople par les Turcs jusqu' à nos jours. Paris, 1881.
- Antonis Danos, "Nikolaos Gyzis's The Secret School and an ongoing national discourse". Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 1 (2002).
- Tasos A. Gritsopoulos, "Το κρυφό σχολειό" Παρνασσός 4: 66-90 (1962).
- Tasos A. Gritsopoulos, "Το κρυφό σχολειό: παιδεία ελλήνων - οργάνωσις αυτής μετά την άλωσιν" Πελοποννασιακά 13:1-52 (1978–79).
- Hellinomnimon Project, "Greek Higher Schools (1620-1821)". University of Athens. [dead link]
- Christos G. Patrinelis, "Η διδασκαλία της γλώσσας στα σχολεία της Τουρκοκρατίας" ("Language [sc. Greek] teaching in schools of the Turkish period") in M. Z. Kopidakis (ed.), Ιστορία της Ελληνικης Γλώσσας (History of the Greek Language) Athens: Elliniko Logotechniko kai Istoriko Archeio. 216-217.
- Ioannis Polemism, "Το κρυφό σχολειό" Online text of the poem (in Greek)[not in citation given].
- ^ D. A. Zakythinos, The making of modern Greece: from Byzantium to independence Oxford: Blackwell, 1976. ISBN 0874717965