Greece is going through difficult times, but I try to remain optimistic. And one thing that makes me optimistic is meeting Greek students.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting a 17-year-old high school student and helping to prepare her for the second phase of Greece’s 5th National Student Philosophy Competition. Only twenty students (out of over 800 who took part in the first phase) will enter this second phase. Next week, they will travel to the University of Patras, where they will experience university study and write two extended philosophical essays — one in Greek, one in another language (English, French, German) — on themes in ethics.
It was a great pleasure to talk to the student. We talked about virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism, discussing Aristotle, Kant, and Mill. She was smart and quick-thinking and had clearly studied hard in preparation for the competition. She summarized philosophical views accurately, analysed them clearly, and drew on different theories in developing her own approach. But more than this, she had a wonderful enthusiasm for philosophy — something not always evident in academic philosophers! It was clear that she loved the subject.
I’m sharing this because after my session with this young person I returned home with my batteries recharged, full of admiration and hope for the next generation. I’m certain that there are many more young people like this in Greece (there are another 19 of them at least!) and this gives me great hope.
I wish them all luck in the competition — the best two will then go through to the International Philosophy Olympiad in Ghent. I also wish them best luck for the future — though they probably don’t need it and neither do we with people like them around us.
I also came out with a lot of admiration for the Greek system and the student’s teachers. Obviously, they have been doing great work to fire their students’ interest, and to maximize opportunities for them. Finally, I was very happy to see a Greek University reaching out to schools and promoting philosophy in such an engaging and stimulating way.
I’m so proud and privileged to have met this student.
Image by Matt Neale from UK – Greek philosophersUploaded by NotFromUtrecht, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12858253