What is important to you when awarding credits to students? Is it important to circle the correct answer, a, b, c, or d on a test, or rather to know how to think critically?
Countless different stimuli constantly flow through us. They can be spectacular or utterly unnoticable, but it’s about noticing and registering them so that something is resurrected in us. People should not be completely flat – emotional cripples at the level of an iguana. And by that I don’t want to underestimate the iguana and its inner life. If people use their brains only in the sense of memory and don’t know how to put things in context, they become easy prey to anything and anyone. How can they then give their opinion on anything, when maybe they don’t even know that this or that problem has already been solved long ago? A student shouldn’t work in life so that he can boast about how many answers he circled correctly on a test. I could do this on a Sunday on some fun quiz. What’s important is how his personality is formed. I work at schools they have an artistic or near-artistic focus. And I’m not even interested in whether a student uses trends which are thought to be “in”, but I am interested in his personality inside. Then even if he expresses himself in a banal way and doesn’t have the need to constantly fly into the air, he gets my attention. That, for me, is important during evaluations.
A student shouldn’t work in life so that he can boast about how many
answers he circled correctly on a test. I could do this on a Sunday
on some fun quiz. What’s important is how his personality is formed.
What does education mean to you nowadays?
I consider education to be not only what I find out, but also what I experience. It has to be equally balanced between rational and emotional elements. Unfortunately, these days the trend is that we already basically have a university in every village and we just fill in some charts and statistics. This is especially true of the humanities where science or theory has deviated from its source and has set out on its own strange course.
It reminds me of the beginning of the film by Luis Buñuel, The Golden Age, where some castaways are washed up on an island and the leader stands on a stone and says that they have landed in the promised land and that they will mine clay and produce clay from it. I have the feeling that we are currently at this stage. That clay is unbelievably explicated and examined in light of the most various parameters, but it is merely clay. I would like us to mine the clay, but to make statues out of it.
What do you think of the city Ústí nad Labem?
Anton Raphael Mengs, one of the main representatives of European classicism, particularly in Italy and then in Spain, was born here. Then there are also other figures, romantics like Richard Wagner, who is still remembered for climbing a cliff in Střekov and coming up with his opera Tannhäuser, and Karel Máj, who went from nearby Dresden to Brna to a garden restaurant to write Vinnetou.
This is not the first time that my life has intersected with Ústí nad Labem. It is a city of enormous contrasts. Contrasts like between Hiroshima or Berlin in 1945 in Předlice or in the street Na Nivách as compared to the Mácha landscape. This may be due to its disposition, where a small square on the confluence of the Bílina and the Elbe has changed under the onslaught of civilization into a metropolis which is cramped within a valley.
How do you feel here personally?
When I go past the imaginary center of the city – the chemical factory – I feel the strange setting between the Middle Uplands and the Ore Mountains. It is a purely Mácha landscape which cannot last long. Just as a person wouldn’t live permanently on Mount Everest, so this parameter is also part of Ústi. I feel better when I am somewhere on a hill and I see what’s going on fifty kilometers away from me. On the other hand, Ústí is an open form, a constantly unfulfilled culture. It’s similar in Ostrava or in Most. These are cities that are not content. Conversely, České Budějovice or Plzeň are beautiful cities in themselves and nothing is needed there, but Ústí is unhealed, it is constantly evolving. And that’s good news.