It happened on September 27, 2017 in Thessaloniki, which is the second biggest city in Greece. Kindergarten children took their paintbrushes, their watercolors and their ignorance (the latter not their fault obviously) and went off to have fun, painting a horse.
Since the photos were posted on Facebook, the whole thing has gone viral thanks to the millions of shares and reshares in social media, infuriating a big part of the Greek public – and informing the all the rest (you know, the “see no evil” type) on why such a thing is simply wrong.
The “project” was made public by a woman who posted the photos on Facebook, writing: “In the KOPERTI kindergarten, the students we instructed to paint on a white horse. Is this the education you want for those sensitive souls? Is this your way of being a role model? By polluting their thoughts and feeling in such a young age? We will be pressing charges because such a thing is illegal”.
According to the Greek law (art 12, par 2, 4039/12.2) “it is illegal to maintain any animal in entertainment facilities, racing tracks, music concerts, fashion shows, fairs, and other artistic or entertainment shows, if the animals are being kept there in order to participate in the the events.” (Pardon my bad translation, you get the point). However, I think the children were the ones visiting the horse, so I am not sure the law covers this type of “animal violation (?)”.
After the public outcry, the school has apologized a couple of times, trying to explain on how the horse was not hurt and on how it was all an attempt of experiential learning gone bad. Thanks a lot, nobody really thought that the horse was that traumatized really. It’s not about the particular horse, it’s about teaching (or not teaching) kids that animals are toys that we can paint on.
And as I am writing this post I am at the same time googling “horse/paint/kids”. It turns out that horse painting IS actually a thing (“an unusual children’s art activity”) – or, at least, someone tried to make it a “thing”. Judging form the comments on the article, I don’t think it really has a future (phew).
The problem is that when it comes to …everything, Greece is still in kindergarten. We are immature teachers, choosing projects we see as “cool”, without thinking about the impact they might have, and copy-pasting an art activity we saw online has happened once or twice.
We are immature when it comes to animal welfare. Most of us simply don’t see what all the fuss was about, since it was just a horse. We still have to learn a lot as a nation, and we learn from mistakes like the one those teachers made, who are now serving as scapegoats. And we will keep justifying out mistakes, like the school does, for many years to come, until we are in collage (if we ever go such a long way).
Animal lovers here are no exception either – and I am talking about the ones hiding behind keyboards, ready to judge and condemn every chance they get, but never report their neighbor for keeping a chained dog up on the roof of his house. In Greece, there is something to report every minute of the day, when it comes to the animals, we just choose to be active behind our computer screens.