NEWS

Jupiter rises for a teller of tales

You have the reputation of being an excellent teacher. What makes a good teacher? A real desire to communicate. An inner need to share with others what a genuine spiritual pleasure has given you; whatever for you was a steady source of joy. In a nutshell, the good teacher is the modern version of a storyteller. He is a narrator. We often say that there is no easy or difficult subject, good or bad school, just a good or bad teacher. The first is definitely true (to some degree at least) but I am not at all sure about the second. Is it good teachers that make a good school or a good school that creates the environment that shapes a good teacher? It’s probably interrelated. What is it in an educational system that holds back the creation of good teachers? Indifference to the quality of teaching. For someone «out there» not to care about what you’re doing «inside there.» Inside the classroom, I mean. Do you support, then, an assessment system for teachers? Obviously, yes. It’s better to have an assessment system, even a bad one, that you nevertheless can improve by noting its weaknesses than a system of no evaluation which establishes the basic principle of reducing everybody to they same level. Which moment from your years of teaching will you never forget? When Jupiter rose at the time I told him to after a lesson in «astronomy for kids» on a beach in southern Crete. I was on the beach late one night with my friends’ children, giving the regular summer lessons in astronomy, «The Constellations and their Myths,» when Jupiter suddenly rose, very bright, over the mountain. I made a quick calculation – a very simple one but I thought of it then for the first time – and I found that the following night, Jupiter would rise four minutes earlier. The next night, we all gathered together – the children as well, of course – to see if Jupiter would be there on time. Needless to say, I was in indescribable suspense as the hour of the rendezvous approached and all children’s eyes were focused on the horizon, ready for the miracle (or for the magician to be made a laughingstock, if everything went wrong). Really, how did Jupiter know that he had to appear – and he did! – at the time appointed? I will always remember that moment as the most authentic I have experienced as a teacher. Perhaps because it was a lesson for children. At the same time, it was the nearest I came to feeling the wonder of a universe bound by laws. What Einstein described with the well-known saying: «The most incomprehensible about this world is that it is at all comprehensible.»