NEWS

They get expert training and then go on to teach fractions

What has happened to your latest discoveries? In Greece, nothing. But as our work has already been published in international journals, a foreign company might express an interest. Neither of these two instruments is so complicated (a lot of gray matter has been invested in them, but not much high technology) that they can’t be patented and manufactured by Greek industry. What is lacking in Greece is the organization, the infrastructure, the links in the chain from creation to production. Scientific work is being done but it usually becomes known only outside Greece. When the famous Greek professor at Cambridge, Athanassios Fokas, came to work with our university on the examining committee for doctorate students, he wondered at the fact that a young woman scientist who had completed an extremely innovative research project in electromagnetic brain scanning was teaching mathematics at a first year junior high school in a small town in the Peloponnese. He said that only in Greece would money be invested in training such a gifted person and then sending them to a village to teach fractions. Is there no investment in research in Greece, then? We do not exploit to the full the work that is being done. It is like cultivating a tree and then letting a stranger gather the fruit. EU funding that is talked about so much is competitive; our proposals compete against those from Cambridge, Oxford and the Sorbonne. Greek funding, on the other hand, is so restricted that it does not reach those groups that should be given the opportunities to enable them to produce something more. Not that things are bad. Greece is first in funding for information technology, based on what it contributes. We get three times more from the EU than what we ourselves give. Science is not one of the sectors in which we are lagging behind. With a bit of organization by the State, we could have spectacular results. However, we fill a jug with milk and then pour it out. Typical Greece. What is the standard of students today? Is it better or worse that before? The average standard is lower (more and more students are getting into university), but the good ones are getting better every year. We have very good, very strong minds that are becoming better and better. We ask a lot of our children these days, both broad general knowledge and specialization. It is true that we are asking more and more of them, we are continually expanding the horizons, which leads to a lack of depth. On the other hand, general education is necessary, because we are living in an age of specialization. But specialized knowledge is not enough. An initial breadth of knowledge is necessary, otherwise someone will simply execute commands without comprehending the substance. What does a young person need in order to make it today? How many degrees? They don’t need a lot of degrees, but they have to find out what they are really interested in and devote themselves to it enthusiastically in order to be competitive.There are no vacant posts in any sector. You simply have to be good at what you do. Teachers can help a great deal here. ‘Education is what stays inside us when everything we’ve been taught has been forgotten,’ said Albert Einstein. But that can’t happen without good teachers.