New Year concert of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Added by: S. Ščepán, 11.1.2019, 1066 visit

The Mirror Hall of the Primate's Palace in Bratislava was fulfilled with the respect for knowledge, enthusiasm for science, but also admiration for art and humankind on the 10th of January as the traditional New Year's concert of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. It was opened by SAS chairman Pavol Šajgalík in the presence of the chairwoman of the Czech Academy of Sciences Eva Zažímalová, as well as the ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps from several countries, currently working in the Slovak Republic, and many other important guests.
Pavol Sajgaklik admitted that the year 2018 brought more questions for the academy than answers. However, he has fallen into history in the context of another "eighth" year, which were also interesting for the science. He said:

"How was 2018? What has it brought for the Academy? The simple answer is: 2018 brought more questions than answers.
At this stage of my speech, you can probably all guess what I am going to talk about. But actually I have decided to go in a different direction. I will not discuss a marred transformation, audit, trust, nor the annual report. Instead, we’re going to go on a historical journey.
A dictionary will define what we all know, that an academy is an ancient Greek school of pupils and followers of the philosopher Plato involved in higher levels of scientific, educational, artistic and educational knowledge. If we look up the word academic in the dictionary, we find that academic refers to a university educated or scientific person. It is also clear from this that science and education combined connect an Academy.
So let’s go back in time.
2018, another year containing the number 8 is now behind us. We celebrated many anniversaries domestically, both pleasant and sad. The years 1918 and 1989 were pleasant in the end, but the years 1948 and 1968 certainly were not. We unfortunately added another sad anniversary to 2018, that of the death of two young people. But I do not want to talk about this today either. Dates containing the figure 8 are also interesting for the academy and not just for Slovakia.
In 1088, one of the first universities in the world - the University of Bologna - was established. Its status was defined by the Charter which guaranteed it (already in the 11th century!) freedom of exploration. A scientist / teacher / student of the university could never be held back by anyone or anything in their quest for knowledge and education. They were protected by the Charter of the Constitutio Habita issued by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1158. This freedom was inviolable and was the basis of a later definition of academic freedom. Students of this university included, among others, Nicholaus Copernicus, Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas Becket illustrating what the freedom to attend university can deliver.
On the 900th anniversary of the founding of the University of Bologna, on September 18, 1988, 889 universities from 88 European countries signed the Magna Charter Universitatum. Of these, 17 were Slovak. It’s a shame we couldn’t have had one more, then we’d have another date with the figure 8 in this text.

The rectors adopted basic principles to guide them, the essence of which are as follows:
• Universities are autonomous institutions that create and disseminate culture through research and teaching.
• To meet the needs of today's world, they must be independent of any political, economic and ideological power.
• Educational activity is inseparable from research, because this is the only way teaching can follow the development of society's needs.
• The fundamental principle of the life of universities is the freedom of research and teaching, which state authorities must guarantee and support.

Tragic violations of these principles were highlighted in the fate of significant explorers. I will mention only two who were connected with the Slovakia of today. One of them was Ján Jesénius who has a faculty named after him at the Komenius University. He was famous even in his own time. In addition to being the Rector at Charles University in Prague, in 1600 he carried out the first public autopsy which was a breakthrough in understanding anatomy for research and medicine itself. His engagement in the Protestant movement in Bohemia became "uncomfortable" for the victors of the Battle of White Mountain and Ferdinand II. The Habsburgs sentenced him to death and he was executed in Prague on the Old Town Square in 1621

The second was Ján Amos Komenský (Comenius as known in English). Our biggest university bears his name. Today we all know his iconic terms like the school play, Orbis Pictus, or the Language Gate is open (škola hrou, Orbis Pictus or Brána jazykov otvorená). Yet few are aware of the enormous contribution of Ján Amos Comenius which was devising a system of teaching and learning, adopted throughout the entire Western world and still in use today.

A child should be educated in the family from birth to the age of six
Age 6 to 12 is spent at elementary school which should be in every city.
This should be the same for boys and girls. The main subjects are writing, numbers, learning about nature and society, religion, singing and handicrafts. Teaching should take two hours before midday and two in the afternoon.

From the 12th to the 18th year of life, students should be educated in the so- called Latin (or grammar) school which should also be in every city. Education is to be administered in seven free disciplines, such as grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, with natural sciences, geography, history, mathematics and languages. Note the complexity of the basic education that Comenius described. Students should be educated in Latin and Greek, but also in the language of their neighbors.

From the 18th to the 24th year students have to be educated at the academy. The academy is supposed to be in every country. This is a university where study focuses on theology, philosophy, law and medicine. Students should travel abroad after leaving school and continue learning. Comenius proposed lifelong learning.

Something that we consider to be a phenomenon of modern times was anchored in the 17th century.
How did it end for Comenius? In the same way it did for Jan Jesenius after the Battle of White Mountain, he fell into disfavour. As a preacher of the Unity of the Brotherhood, he refused to convert to Catholicism, and in 1628 he had to emigrate. And his contribution to knowledge has influenced the entire world.

I like to listen to the radio session “Ours and the world’s” (Naši a svetoví)" on Slovak Radio. It reminds us that even today we often have to lose our own to realize that they are global talents.

But let's get back to the opening question. So how was 2018 for the Slovak Academy of Sciences? Many questions, lots of uncertainties. We continue to look for answers and solutions. What is imperative and confirmed by history is that it must remain a paradigm that the academy should be free and independent. And furthermore my personal challenge, probably the most important and the most difficult - I would like our young scientists to find their way into Slovakia. And for them to be global talents. For the level of our country and the quality of life, it is important that we realize this to avoid losing them."

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Príhovor predsedu SAV.
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Privítanie predsedníčky AV ČR.
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Konvergencie Quartet.
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Z knihy rozhovorov s Mariánom Vargom čítala Tatiana Pauhofová.
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Hostia na koncerte.
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Koncert SAV v Bratislave.