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Teo: It’s lethal for a person to be ignorant

Teo: It’s lethal for a person to be ignorant

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Interview with Teodosii Teodosiev by Ralie Blag
for Bright sparks in the Aura of Bulgaria
Alexsandra Vali
Neil Scarth

The way to greatness is the way of suffering: one has to go through suffering to achieve ease after that. There are no easy successes. But a person needs to invest some passion, 20 thousand hours of passion. I’ve said many times that there are no chosen peoples – there are chosen individuals. Whoever chooses God, becomes chosen :) There are people who are touched by greatness. One key scene portrayed by Raphaelo shows how God breathes the spirit into Adam – a touch through which that Universal Energy is poured in. That light side of the Force is something we have to seek by ourselves. He who seeks it will receive it.

~ Teo to BNT (Bulgarian National Television), ‘Night Birds’, 23.09.2016


He’s the one who toppled England, France and the USA from the top of the rankings and in their place wrote BULGARIA in capital letters! A report by Nova TV grabbed our attention with these introductory remarks and made the wider public here aware of the quiet deeds, year in year out, of that contemporary provider of enlightenment, the teacher of our glittering school of physics in the town of Kazanlak, Teodosii Teodosiev. A great deal has been written and spoken later on about him and his ‘power intellect’ teaching system, and even more about the difficult, virtually disastrous conditions in which these young talents are developed.
We got in touch with Teodosii to find out whether anything has changed with the school or himself since then and also to rub shoulders one more time with the secret which awakens greatness in people.

You’ve said that at one time you’d been looking for a profession which gives you a fair amount of free time – what had you been thinking of doing with it? What were you drawn to?
I consider myself a humanities guy who happened to find himself amongst scientists. There was a time when I thought of myself as a great poet and a great artist who had to become a teacher in order to have a lot of free time – in order not to be the sort of poet or artist who’s on the Party’s payroll. That’s why I decided to study a subject that would give me that freedom. Later it turned out that things weren’t quite like that. I can’t just do my work any old way and then use my free time to do art for art’s sake. And it turned out that you can make an art out of any profession – and great art at that – on an exceptional scale. That’s what’s interesting, as it turns out.

So you just needed a job to make a living, but the kind that would ensure you had the chance to create freely without having to fit in with external conditions?
At one time I imagined I would graduate in physics (I specialised in meteorology and geophysics), then I’d be on some bare mountain peak, I’d dress up in the hides of beasts all over and I’d create art in peace and quiet, far away from people. But then things changed. When I started working in a school, with these beady wide-open eyes in front of me: you realise that there is another way to be creative.

How did your teaching physics actually come about?
I’ve had a knack for these things ever since I was little. I was in a school where we studied a bit more mathematics – it was a class fast-streamed for maths. Apart from that our father had taught us a lot about physics – even when I’d already graduated from university he could still put me on the spot about physics! These are things you inherit from your parents. In fact my mother and father wanted me to become a doctor, but I rather thwarted their intentions in this. Maybe I was meant to follow different paths of development. A person finds himself at various kinds of crossroads…
Like the story of the knight at the crossroads: if he takes the left road, he’ll lose his head; if he goes right, he’ll marry the king’s daughter; if he keeps on straight ahead, he’ll lose his horse. And no self-respecting knight will set off for somewhere where he’s going to lose his horse, because without a horse and all that metal on him, it’s hard… Usually what happens is that the one who sets out to lose his head ends up marrying the king’s daughter and the one who sets out to marry the king’s daughter ends up losing his head. That’s why a person has to be a bit more humble and most of all to want to give rather than to get.
There’s something I learnt from my father: ‘You have to let people use you a little bit, otherwise what use are you to them?’ All my life that’s what I’ve been doing: I’ve looked for someone to ‘use’ me, for the children to use me. And I’ve never given private lessons for money. My physics school is totally free of charge. Some people, if you pay them to work on some kind of project, they’ll work for 20 hours, then in the 20th hour they’ll put down the chalk and stop right there. I work for 2000 hours without letting go of the chalk and stopping there and then. I do demonstration experiments and I modify them a thousand times and perfect them more and more.

Doesn’t the framework of the education system restrict you?
If I’ve done something, it’s despite the system.
Once I had a headmaster, who said about me and my teaching: ‘He works with an incorrect methodology, but he has exceptional results.’
The great achievements are made at the border between science and art. This is already not so much in the bounds of science as in the realm of art. And only an extremely broad-minded type of person who can go beyond the plane of banal knowledge can accomplish great achievements. Apart from that, it’s important to be emotionally cultivated and involved. An extremely difficult logical task can be solved more easily if someone has the right emotional attitude, if it’s enjoyable, he simply solves it in a different state of mind.

So we’re talking about the unity of mind and spirit necessary for exceptional results?
Yes, yes. Beautifully put. The great figures are of unlimited dimensions in every respect – in thinking, in feeling – and this is the kind of person who can achieve super feats.


“Some people are amazed that it’s possible for us to work in such a school on things like the ancient poetry of the East or on philosophical problems like the search for the Moral Absolute or the question of the divine origin of the Universe. But it turns out that for someone to accomplish super-achievements, he needs to be an extremely broad-minded person. Only then can such an achievement be reached: when one gets off the plane of the elementary and the trivial. That’s why we take an interest here in many other things and we’ve organised a listening session under the stars, for example, of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion or Mozart’s Coronation Mass and that also has something in common with great physics and great science.” /Teo for BNR (Bulgarian National Radio) Horizons, 22.05.2013/

I try to give a spiritual dimension to my students. To achieve great things a person must be enormously cultivated and not just in terms of technical things but also in terms of the humanities. That’s why I think that when I’ve had my students weeping in front of Cezanne’s paintings in the Hermitage, that’s no less of an achievement than having them win gold medals in Olympiads.” /Teo for www.e-vestnik.bg, interviewed by Zina Sokolova, 03.11.2008/


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Einstein tells us that it’s virtually a miracle, with current pedagogical methods, that sacred curiosity is not completely suffocated, because this tender plant requires, above all things, freedom. Could it be said that your method of teaching manages to break down the ‘dogmas’ of the system to release the spirit of sacred curiosity?
One of the main points in my system of Power Intellect is freedom as a productive force. And that’s so from back in the totalitarian era, before democracy – they’ve always criticised me saying my pupils were too wild, too free-thinking and talked too freely. But without that freedom they can’t be creative people and win gold medals! Freedom, combined with a strong work ethic and morality. That is the creative person’s freedom of God and not of destruction and anarchy. Freedom, which has a moral underpinning.

But we can’t expect all children to be equally good in everything, can we?
When pupils first come into my class, the first thing which I explain to them is that a good pasty-maker deserves more respect than an incompetent professor. You make one, two, three,five… two thousand pasties until you make the perfect one and then you deserve people’s respect, love and money. In each and every area a person can be something serious and great. When he does it with love, with good feeling and puts a lot of soul into it.
People are born different, they have different abilities by birth. One is born like Stefka Kostadinova who can jump over 2 metres in height, another is born paralysed and can’t jump over his own slippers. Some are born beautiful, others ugly… And now I ask: ‘Is this nice or bad?’ The first reaction is: ‘Really bad!’ I say, ‘No, you can’t make a society only of professors. A society needs people to transport hot pаsties in lorries in the morning, someone to mill the flour, someone to plough the fields etc. A society is good in as far as it has a variety of people. And each person should be loved and respected according to what he personally can do.

And here we come to the point about marks. Those kids who aren’t made for physics, for example, and don’t cope well, even in your classes – how do they take it if they have lower marks?
They accept it, but their parents don’t accept it. Children accept the fact that some people are worse than others. They say – I’m not good at that, but I’m good at something else. And that’s it. However, there are parents who can’t accept that their child, who after all has been accepted for a maths high school, can have a D in maths or physics.

As low as D? Do you actually give Ds?
Well, look. Once there was a certain Ivaylo, whose mother and father used to come at the end of every term to beg me to give him a C since it was humiliating for them, they said. And here’s me – young and green: I gave him a C. And I shouldn’t have. The lad completed his secondary education, which he ought not to have – he just didn’t have that kind of ability. He joined the army and he shouldn’t have joined – he ought to have been a labourer, so they’d give him a pick and other people would instruct him what to do. They sent him to the border as a border-guard. And since he had the education, they sent him to fix the electrical fences on the border. An illiterate man who didn’t understand electricity – he got an electrical shock and died. (And his mother had struggled for 16 years to get pregnant with him.)
To this very day that boy weighs on my conscience. If I’d given him a D, he’d still be alive. So that’s how a D can be a life-saver of a mark. The problem is: is that mark fair, is it right? The aim of a mark is for a person to find out: am I cut out for this or not? Not everyone can become an opera singer and the fact that someone has, for example, a mark less than A in singing doesn’t mean they should be offended: it means they’re cut out for something else.

So we come back to the education system which wants everyone to have straight As in everything for that person to be able to continue their education at all.
This is about leaving a whole nation in ignorance. I’ve got a friend, Dr Hofmann of Humboldt University in Berlin. The man is a science PhD and his son works as an electrician and he finds this normal. He’s not offended by it. And the boy is happy as an electrician. Should he become a professor?!

And yet we depend on a teacher to inspire in some way, don’t we? Because there are cases where a person needs a little something to get beyond a certain level. Have you had cases like this?
I had a case with a schoolgirl who had Ds and nothing but Ds… And then from the very first class of the next school-year she started getting As in everything – it was just like they’d swapped her with someone else, like they’d changed the ‘chip’ inside her. There are children like that. And I, in the first place, never form an opinion about someone for their whole life. Everyone is given a chance.

And isn’t there a connection precisely with the fact that the current education system doesn’t awaken curiosity in someone, but actually kills it by requiring them to memorise some kind of data mechanically and by teaching things that don’t stimulate creativity? The children are not made to feel emotionally predisposed towards the process…
There’s a lack of culture. This is a global trend, but here the disease is really severe. There are cultured nations who value knowledge. At the moment these are the peoples of the Far East.
Once I was invited to an elite club – Reform Union Club. These are people, who… if I was ‘Man of the Year’, then they were ‘Businessman of the Year’.[1] Highly intelligent people who want to carry out reforms in Bulgarian education. They’d read and learnt that the future lies in the pupil studying by himself at home. He stays in front of the computer, educates himself and chooses what and how much to learn. The issue, though, is for a person to possess the level of culture necessary to be able to select. Unfortunately, if we leave children to choose totally by themselves what to learn and what not to learn, 90% of them won’t even complete first grade by the end of their lives. Simply never!
Years ago this problem arose when they set up the UN and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: there’s also a Declaration of the Rights of the Child. They say there was a great dispute. Should children be sent to school by force or be left to play at home and only if they wanted to go to school. And the prevailing opinion was that ‘It’s lethal for a child to be ignorant’. My students have learnt this like a mantra: ‘It’s lethal for a person to be ignorant’. And it really is deadly dangerous. With all this civilisation, all this technology, an uneducated person is even more dangerous to himself and to those around him.
There needs to be some kind of balance, in which there is a measured dose of enthusiasm and a measured dose of hard graft, ordnung.[2] It’s not the German system which is designated the best in the world, but the Finnish[3] one which is regarded as number one. Although the German economy is the most powerful in Europe. (And that’s an economy which works in a real sense, producing quality assets, not just a mere printing press for inflationary money.) In the Finnish system they don’t give them any kind of marks until the fifth or sixth grade – the children go to school happily, without being forced to. But… The Scandinavian countries used to be one state which was called Christiania. The education and culture are completely different. If you’ve been to Oslo, the Museum of the Vikings, they were the biggest bandits in all of Europe. But there came a year when it all ended. We asked the tour guide what had happened. ‘Then we became Christians.’ Full stop. That was that for banditry! Unfortunately, here we may not have become genuine Christians.

Actually, for many centuries we’ve employed Christianity as a kind of inner knowledge amidst conditions imposed by systems alien to us, is that not so?
There are things which are not the best that we could be proud of but that’s the human material we’ve got and we have to do what can be done. And it turns out that it can be! A little country like Bulgaria has as many medals from the International Olympiads in Physics as France and Great Britain put together and two thirds of those medals came from here. That speaks volumes about how many unused reserves our society has.
We were at the Olympiad in Australia and Stanislav Kozel, who’s a veteran (he was the leader of the Russian team over the course of half a century) was making fun of the Chinese. And how exactly? In the first round of the Olympiads in Physics the Chinese have between 12 and 14 million participants from which to select a 5-person national team finally. And the Russian said to them: ‘What are you boasting about now? You’ve picked out 5 people from all those millions and have won some kind of medal. Look,’ he said ‘at Teodosii!’ (Because he’s known me for many years and knows my students who have won medals.) ‘I mean from a country like Bulgaria, which is the size of a European town; from a town 1/160th the size of Bulgaria, from a single course profile – 6 people have gone on to the International Olympiad and they’ve brought back 3 gold medals for Bulgaria.’
From one course profile! And from that course profile is Tenio Popminchev who’s being talked about a lot at the moment. A boy who’s made it to a silver – not a gold – medal, but who’s nevertheless the best experimenter. At the International Olympiad in Oslo, his classmate from the same course profile, Pavlin Savov[4], won the gold medal and Tenio the silver. After the end of the Olympiad they publish the best solutions to all the tasks – first, second, third, fifth…, and the experimental one. His was the best experimental task: a diagram drawn by hand but just as if a machine had drawn it. You feel as if some kind of machine has printed this thing and not that a living person has done it by hand. He’s a pedant, an obsessive who’s burnt the midnight oil over his tasks… Well, that’s from the class at the time when I was their form teacher and I was supposed to have educated them badly because they seemed to be very free people. What does the really free person do? The theoreticians think up something, but he’s chosen just the opposite. He says ‘It’s not like that, it must work out another way’ and his way turned out to be the right one. That’s the free person for you and it’s him who makes the great discovery. And at the moment he’s the number one specialist in the world in the field of X-ray lasers.[5]

Teodosii (down, center) with his first physics team, 1978 | From left to right: Petko Dinev, Ivan Buchvarov, Pavlin Savov, Veselin Genev Margarita Kozhuharova, Marieta Tsvetkashka | Photo: www.teocrator.org

Teodosii Teodosiev – the ‘divine’ element comes twice in your name and with a particular archaic Old Church nuance at that. There must be something of that spirit in you, which you pass on to your students?
At one time my cousin Radoslav said that the name determines a man’s fate. Well, I don’t think you can always make such a connection but there is a grain of truth in it. I don’t think of myself so much as a good specialist as much as a good educator. And a teacher of morals first and foremost. That’s part of my heritage. I’ve had the incredible good fortune to have received a great deal and I feel duty-bound to give a great deal. As Jesus said: ‘You received it as a gift, you must give it as a gift.’

Tell us something about your family background the special environment you grew up in?
We were four children – two brothers and two sisters. We lived with my mother in a single little kitchen where we slept on a couch perpendicularly with stools in front because our legs stuck out past the end of the couch. Just like in the fairy tales. A fairytale childhood – I would wake up in the morning and there would be frost patterns on the glass. I, as the oldest, would get up not to chop, but literally to smash apart wood with wedges and hammers. They were great big roots because that was the cheapest wood. My father would buy 160 kg of beans in sacks at one go. Morning, noon and evening… no starter, main course and dessert – beans meal with a salad of onion, vinegar and oil, a few olives, healthy black bread. My father was a great educator – I’m not as good as him. He was able to make something meaningful. Most often via restrictions and scarcity, by creating interest. He was a man of toil who worked a lot and built up an enormous business after starting from minus figures, not even from zero; this was nationalised after the 9th of September revolution. He lost everything. They didn’t let him manage the business he’d built up his whole life. At 45 he started life again from scratch – with a young wife (18 years old) and a little baby, i.e. me. He got some tools for hire and started to work and was a craftsman in his firm. He brought up 4 children – all with a university education, with the principle being: ‘Don’t collect riches for the moths to nibble at, rust eats them away’, i.e. something that they can take away from you. If you have something inside you, there’s no way they can take that away from you.
The man worked – he went from Kazanlak to Plovdiv by bike (100km) to save money to buy the smartest American milling machine from the trade fair in Plovdiv and the smartest American lathe. They took everything. What they could loot, they looted – and his greatest worry was waste! The squandering in socialist times. Grinding toil! In those days there were no computers or industrial robots. One lathe, 12 metres long… turns on a gear transmission system. Both Teodosiev brothers interrupted their sleep every two hours at night – i.e. they took turns – to be able to turn over at the beginning of a new workpiece so the machine could work non-stop.
Or the steam-boiler – with a crack in it, still hot, underneath the coals were smoking. They let him get in to weld the boiler. When he fainted (because inside there were toxic gases), they pulled him out and then they let him in again. To weld the boiler, because the sooner they start work again, the more they’ll pay him. This is the initial accumulation of capital. Willpower and enormous spiritual capabilities!
He had a huge library which he kept under lock and key. To provoke interest in books, in learning: every evening he took out a book and then he turned the key and put the lock on again. And that really tickled our fancy, it was interesting for us: what’s that now that he’s hiding from us?! They chase other kids with a spoon and plead with them to ‘eat one for mummy, for daddy, for auntie’ because they spit on the porridge, doesn’t want it. There was none of that with us. There was a cage which was hung from a chain on the ceiling and when he came home from work in the evening, that’s when they took out the food. And we were waiting like little beasts – lined up around the table. We ate, then the pan was taken, the lid was put on, it was hidden and once again a lock was put on. Will you eat or not?! All of us with rosy cheeks, not a single one of us ill! Just like in the fairy-tales.
And in the summer all of us were yoked into some kind of work. My brother and I dreamed about the school-year starting again so we could have a bit of a rest. All summer with the lathe, the blow-torch and the electric welder – we were working to feed the family. And we didn’t get a single penny! I’ve never had pocket money – none! My father never gave me money for breakfast but he would give me 20-30 levs (in one go) for books – if I had any kind of interest in some kind of science or art. So – values! I bought all kinds of things about chemistry, biology. I had a chemistry laboratory too. All manner of things. I did experiments. First I calculated the reaction, then how much of everything I needed and with me experiments worked out the best.

And how did you reconcile this kind of restriction of freedom with your methods of teaching in which you seek such freedom?
Our father got us working because we were a big family which had to be fed and supported. And we never thought of our father as some kind of villain. On the contrary, we loved him a lot. During the school holidays, we worked from dawn ‘til dusk. In the middle of the night somebody had come – his car needed fixing. We couldn’t turn him down – the man was on the road. Somebody had come for us to weld his hoe – for 20 stotinkas (pennies, cents) we welded his hoe so he could go and work. We weren’t to turn anyone away. This was our upbringing and we never harboured bad feelings towards our father, who made us work to the point of exhaustion. It was already about developing responsibility. I’m the biggest, I’ve got a responsibility towards the smaller ones and at home my father had brought a blackboard too: the biggest one was to teach the smaller one and everyone had to teach the next in line.

And what drew you to the arts?
Painting is my spiritual inheritance from one of my great-grandfathers from Gabrovo – Christo Popserafimov, who was a teacher in maths and painting. He took part in the Balkan War. ‘Edirne,’ he said, ‘was easy for us to take but Shtip – from a company of 600 men only 5 people came out alive.’ When he crawled out, his rucksack was riddled with holes. When he emerged, they asked him: ‘Why are you alive, man?’ at which point they made him from a corporal into a company commander. And then he swore to God that he would become a priest.
And he fulfilled his promise. To look at him, he was like some kind of Biblical prophet – a tall, thin, slim man. He mowed his meadow himself. It was a fantastic sight, the way he waved his priest’s hat, swung his robe and his under-robe and with measured movements of the scythe he felled swathe after swathe. He ploughed his field himself, mowed his meadow himself, in his backpack he carried soil around the mountains: let’s plant linden trees on the cliffs to have flowers and pasture for the bees. He wanted to do good for people. That’s who he was.
He lived to be 100 – he knew that God loves him and nothing bad could happen to him. And if his wife, the priest’s wife, hadn’t died, he would still be alive. But he said, cGod wants me to go home by now.’ Because he loved her very much. She’d been bed-ridden for the last two years – he saw her paralysed and when she passed away he said, ‘I love her and I want to go next – God, it’s time.’ And he followed on after her. (She was around 80, 20 years younger than him.)
Since my sisters came after me close on one another, they’d sent me to my grandad, the priest and my granny, the priest’s wife, and there, to a large extent, I was shaped as a spiritual person. He remembered a lot – he was a living history. About chieftains, who he’d known personally, in the Balkan mountains, in the Sokolski monastery. He had a huge library. And not only ecclesiastical literature. An exceptionally cultivated person. He read every evening and his house was like an art gallery. From the cellar to the attic everywhere was full of oil paintings on romantic themes.

Were they his works – did he paint them?
He painted them, yes. He is a painter of truly serious greatness. I am witness to the fact that some of the greatest Bulgarian artists like Zlatio Boyadzhiev came there to enquire and ask how to do a fresco, a wet fresco. How to do it so that it would last for centuries without the paint fading and without it peeling.
I committed one big sin there. In his old age the man wanted to give me his whole library, but I had the feeling that this man would live forever. You know how people are irrational and don’t think that somebody could ever die. I was supposed to go to Gabrovo to transport the books, because he wanted to give them to me. He just felt that I was his spiritual heir. The years passed. One day became the next. He passed away while I was going to Olympiads and school-camps with my students. At that time some young priests grabbed all of the books, loaded them up as rubbish and bought a carpet for the church with the money they got for them.

Oh no! Really?!
And that’s not the only occasion. In my childhood years I remember a cart with those big flat boards on the sides, for voluminous but light loads – full of books to the brim. Somebody had died, the heirs had come and were driving all his books away to use as secondary raw materials. Two or three books fell out and I picked them up. To this very day I remember them: with leather bindings and brass corners. My great-grandfather’s books were the same – antique printed books from 1800 and some from 1700 and something. Fantastic things which – it’s my sin that I didn’t seek out my inheritance. And that’s why I teach students to seek their inheritance right now. The biggest tragedy is that there were great institutions but nobody to inherit them and after that these things died a death.

That’s sad… As we know, relations between people are the most complicated thing in life and there are always loyal supporters at hand as well as not particularly constructive critics – do you have difficulties in the form of lack of understanding from those around you and resistance to what you’re trying to do?
There have always been users. There are people who make sure they extract some kind of personal benefit from a situation. They’re one category. There are jealous people – they’re another category. As they say, ‘he doesn’t want the bone for himself but he doesn’t want to give it either’. He doesn’t want to work with students, he can’t be bothered, but he’s jealous that someone else is working with them. And they say, ‘If he hadn’t taken my students, I’d have brought them up to such-and-such a level’. But the student goes where it’s interesting and enjoyable for him.
At the moment students come from Varna, Burgas, from Stara Zagora, Pirdop and Botevgrad, from Sofia… there was a girl before who came from Greece. For the school-camps during the summer they come from California, Texas, Switzerland – Zurich, Germany, there was a boy from France this summer, from a small town near Nice… (His parents had even gone to Nice two days before those bloody events.) From all over the world. And with me it’s ‘Entrance: free’ – anyone can come and leave as he wants. He can just get up and go. Then he can come back again. In my childhood I kept dogs. I’ve never kept a dog on a chain! I’ve never tied up a dog – how could I chafe his neck like that?! A big, beautiful dog – on a walk with me somewhere in the countryside and he sets off for somewhere in the forest. After half an hour he comes back. He’ll find me! It’s the same with people. I’ve never wanted to tie someone to me with a chain. Freedom is a part of human happiness.

Is retirement on the agenda for you?
I had the idea of working until the grave without seeking any kind of pension from the state. My father worked like that, until his last breath. My father died without getting a penny – he never applied for a pension. He reckoned it would be the end of him, to become a pensioner and to wait for his pension. He was already over 80 – I found some tissues next to the lathe where he’d spat blood, but he’d continued to work. A man who didn’t want to be a burden on anyone – including the Bulgarian state. I had that kind of intention too, but now some new law came out by which everyone who has reached retirement age is forced out of state employment.
I’ve long ago reached it so they’ll force me out too. At the moment I’m officially on the pay-roll with a half position at the Mathematics High School until they chase me out completely.

But your physics school will carry on here, won’t it?
We need to make this building here[6] into the biggest laboratory facility in Bulgaria for experimental practice in physics. I’ve got a site in the Balkan mountains too[7] – a school which had been turned into a barn and the barn has to be turned back into a school with an astronomy tower the materials for which I’ve been promised from the Air Traffic Control Authority of Sofia Airport.
There’ll be a facility there for the real elite of Bulgaria, not the mass schools of 80-100 people but for those 12-15 who are the most advanced. A place for great creativity – peace and quiet, getting away from it all.

So actually you might retire officially but you’ll continue to work?
I’ll keep on working. In the first place, what’s called pay and pension in Bulgaria is something laughable, especially when it comes to work of such quality and quantity. Some people think: ‘He’s working for free because he doesn’t value his work.’ It’s not true. I know perfectly well the real value of my work. There’s a great economist, Jacques Attali, a French banker, a Jewish guy: he created the Euro. He’s written that in the 21st century the most valuable and the most expensive product will be a good education. All my life I’ve gifted people with the most valuable and the most expensive product. So if they want to pay me for what I’ve given, I ought to become a millionaire, a billionaire.

What really happened with the building of the Mathematics High School? And what actually was the idea of the state funds allocated for it? [8]
Too many lies have accumulated in the Bulgarian education system, which is fatal. Why did the building of the Mathematics High School in Kazanlak collapse? Well, that’s how they’ve got their degrees, these people – by cheating. In the first place, the whole story is based on a lie. They used my name and the physics school I’ve run for years to get funding for an extension of the Mathematics High School. There was an old building, which was supposed to be knocked down and in its place the extension was supposed to be built with three new labs: for chemistry, physics and biology. This was thunderously announced as the National Centre for Natural Science in the school. But actually here it is, what you see here: a national centre – children from all over Bulgaria and from abroad come here.

But some kind of extension work has been started and…?
And it sank into the ground, because in Bulgaria not enough physics is studied. A week before this happened I said to our students that, looking at the way they’re digging, the wing of the school will have to be demolished any moment, because the situation contradicts the laws of physics. And although I was out of town when it happened, some people accused me of undermining the school and that I’m to blame for it subsiding. Apart from the fact that my name was misused in order to ask for money for that extension, which is not even necessary since our town is small (with at least tens times fewer inhabitants than Plovdiv) and it’s hopeless to try to find students with the needed qualities for the whole Natural Science and Mathematics High School with a comparable number of course profiles to the MМHS[9] in Plovdiv. And there were labs but they made them into ordinary classrooms to increase the numbers of course profiles – the delegated budget! More students, more state money.
The big picture is that there really is a crisis in the whole world. People are fleeing from the exact sciences, there’s a crisis of morals, a return to primitivism. A Russian academic Arbatov said that at the moment a secondary return to barbarism of the races can be observed. And what can be done? What’s the real situation? We are saving what can be saved. We can’t save everyone – there are people who want to turn into savages, to return to barbarism. To go back. However, what’s saveable ought to be saved and that’s what I’m trying to do.

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[1] Annual National Awards.
[2] Ordnung is German for something like ‘order, discipline, rules’.
[3] Over the last few decades Finland has, without fail, been in the top ranks according to the PISA international surveys on literacy: it’s been like that since 2000, while in 2008 the UN designated the Finnish and Danish education systems the best in the world, with Eastern models being direct rivals, but at the cost of an extraordinary level of labour invested, labour which is perhaps not always as inspired as it should be for there to be a balance between the effort put in and the individual creative enthusiasm awakened in the person themselves.
[4] A graduate in Astrophysics from the Maasachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Boston). A PhD at the California Institute of Technology Caltech, Pasaden with a Master’s in Finance from Berkeley University. He became the youngest ever PhD in Astrophysics in the USA (2008). Worked with Stephen Hawking briefly. Was a quantitative analyst in Goldman Sachs Bank, New York, for 7 years. Later on a software engineer in Dolby Photoshop, New York. He is excited by the new horizons which lie ahead for science, especially gravitational waves. ‘I think it’s no exaggeration to say that the detection of gravitational waves by LIGO will be one of the two revolutionary discoveries of the 21st century. The second will come, extremely soon I think, from CERN, where they are attempting to show that more than 4 dimensions exist (time + 3 spatial). Until last week (the interview is from beginning of 2016) the two projects were in an unofficial race to be the first to reach their goal. Amongst the scientists in both teams there have been more than a few bets placed which are being paid out right now :) One of the founders and the leader of LIGO, Professor Thorn, claims that the aim of the project is not to detect gravitational waves, but to open up a new window on the universe. For the less patient, I recommend Interstellar, a film created, it’s no coincidence, after an idea by Professor Thorn, where science and fantasy are entwined but in which the fantastic is much less than people would initially assume’ comments Pavlin Savov to Trud newspaper. ‘The time is not far away when we will be able to communicate with each other by telepathic means’: of this the scientist is convinced according to a bulletin by Dariknews.bg.
[5] How many medals have your students past and present amassed in the Olympiads and Physics competitions here and abroad?
I’ve long since stopped counting them but I can tell you that out of 48 absolute winners in the National Olympiads in physics, 25 of them have passed through my school, while it should also be noted that when the first 10 Olympiads took place, I wasn’t even a teacher yet. But the nicest thing is that these students don’t just win competitions in physics and study at prestigious universities all over the world, but that after that most of them manage to realise their career potential and are today at the very top in science and industry. Amongst them there are scientists whose contribution is acknowledged world-wide.
For example, my first gold medallist Petko Dinev now produces the highest quality, most precise TV cameras in the world in America. His clients include the U.S. and Israeli governments, the Sony corporation – everyone who can afford it. I know that every American rocket which blasts off for the cosmos has his cameras mounted on it.
Another citizen of Kazanlak, who also works in America, in the state of Colorado, Professor Tenio Popminchev, is the inventor of the most highly perfected X-ray lasers. Together with his brother Dimitar, also a former student of mine, he’s writing a new quantum alphabet – the alphabet of bright quantum X-rays.
More understandable for the general public, however, will be the discovery by Hristo Iglev, also from Kazanlak, who works in Munich Polytechnic and discovered how to turn water into ice at plus 16 degrees centigrade. This is causing a revolution in the food and flavouring industry, because, and I’m joking here, ice-cream isn’t going to melt in future.
Nikolai Kardzhilov, on the other hand, managed to photograph a magnetic field with the aid of neutrons, which is a scientific sensation. He succeeded in taking this neutron picture of the magnetic field in Berlin, where he works.
Dimitar Angelov, once again in Germany, is working with lasers on the most powerful fibre optics and so on. My former students succeed, because they are trained in heavy intellectual labour and to solve difficult tasks of whatever nature. /‘24 hours’ newspaper, interview by Vanio Stoilov, 29.04.2016/
Not all of them take part in Olympiads and even fewer get medals. But they develop extremely well. I’ve got a student who doesn’t win medals, hasn’t become a leading light of science, but at the moment is the greatest specialist in printers in Bulgaria. Elena Atanasova studied with us and, although she didn’t win any medals, she made a great discovery in nuclear physics. She’s got into the textbooks and she’s saved billions of euros for the European Union when they built the accelerator in CERN. I’ve even had a student who graduated in literature and became one of the leading poets in Bulgaria – he’s called Rumen Denev. For me it’s important for people to reach the absolute limit of their capabilities, not for them to become academics. Whatever they apply themselves to, these boys and girls, they already have a certain way of thinking. /‘Obekti’ magazine, issue 3, September 2009/
[6] The abandoned building of the former Technical College for Hydraulics which Teo has used for his physics school for the last 15 years without heating, electricity or water. By decree of the council of ministers it was transferred to the municipal authorities in Kazanlak in 2014. They placed it at his disposal free of charge with a 10 year contract. The abandoned school is in a lamentable state, though and is in need of full renovation. Via a media campaign by Nova TV funds to the value of 90 000 levs in donations were raised, half of which have already been invested in repairs currently underway. There are also individual donors who have taken upon themselves the repair of particular parts of the site. There are large-scale donors too for laboratory equipment, such as the company Telelink (with Liubomir Minchev the owner) and others. The repairs continue although at a slow pace. In this building Teo is collecting educational literature for children as well as experimental apparatus from donors for the maintenance and development of the experimental facility. During the school year (at weekends) this is the venue where weekly sessions are held whereas the summer school-camps for physics are organised in Prof. Minko Balkanski’s facility in the village of Oryahovitsa (in the Nova Zagora region) and in the Municipality of Kazanlak’s facility – the hamlet of Panitsite near Kalofer.
[7] A small property in the mountains around Gabrovo which Teodosii bought in 2000 when he invested all of his savings with the idea of creating a place where young people can prepare themselves in terms of experiments to a world level. At that time the funds only stretched to repairing the roof to stop the process of disintegration. After so many years have passed, it may be that the dream of such a work-space is finally about to come true.
[8] 480 000 levs in state funds were allotted to the extension of the school, but after the collapse, much more will be needed to complete the work.
[9] MMHS – the Model Mathematics High School.



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