What general culture do you leave after 11 years of compulsory education in Romania. And what should you leave with him?


Photo: Inquam Photos / Sabin Cirstoveanu

In this article I set out to deconstruct a view often encountered in Roman society. An opinion on what it means to have a general culture. More specifically, the view that an educated person is someone whose head resembles Wikipedia as closely as possible. Someone is able to quickly name three Caravaggio paintings, the atomic number of zirconium, the number of plays by Tagore, who climbed Everest for the first time, and three Hitchcock films. Someone who can win the contest wants to become a billionaire. What more can be said about such a man? He is someone who focuses obsessively on memory development. That someone out there knows by heart all kinds of things that don’t make you better suited to the world you live in. It is a person who has stored in memory various information from all fields, all of which are known outwardly.

What does it mean to have a strong public culture then? Let me take an example. Let’s say you want to know something about a disease and its current treatments. Where do you find this information? Internet access is easy and anyone can access it. But on the Internet, where exactly do you look for them? Are you looking for it in Chakra website? On site with natural remedies? Natural remedy? holist? University medical site? Who is a star? You will choose one of these sites according to your general culture. Having a good general culture means having standards for evaluating information. We all know how to search for something on Google. However, we do not know how to look for the best sources of information. Today you will find dozens of different answers to each question. Which one would you choose to believe? Knowing the best sources of information for each field, and having a set of criteria for evaluating the information you come in contact with is no small feat and not easy to learn. And yes, the Romanian school does not prepare you for this at all.

Having a good historical culture does not mean memorizing the dates of battles and other historical moments. Doesn’t that mean knowing by heart the reigns of Stephen the Great or the composition of the Crown Council of Charles I. But can you take a history course to help you concretely what you learn there in your daily life? Yes, if in history you try to understand the motives of those in positions of power and how a person changes the position of power. If you attend history lessons in such a way that you understand the motivations of tyrants like Stalin or Ceausescu. What drove them as people? How do those around them accept all the bad things, all the bad decisions? Out of fear, out of interest? How do these feelings affect us? What state institutions can be opposed? Why didn’t the people in those institutions do anything? Couldn’t they or were they afraid, too? History can be taught in the same way if in the class next to the history teacher, psychology teacher and civics teacher. Needless to say, isn’t that the case at Romanian State School?

There is no point in doing social education if all you have to do is write in a notebook what your teacher dictates. If you do not understand how society is organized, what are the mechanisms of power in a democracy. Because power relations also exist in school. There are divergent interests here, too. Compromise and cooperation are needed here as well. But these things cannot be learned from teachers’ lectures but through direct practice. In a previous article I wrote about how you can learn this in practice in school.

How can something I learn in sociology, which comes from here in general culture, help me in practice? You can learn about the social groups, the social dynamics you encounter every time you enter the school but no one bothered to explain it to you. Nobody gives you that information that you can apply right away. Information with which you can analyze and understand the phenomena that occur near you, with you. To understand the cause of aggression in school, with gangs, and the power relations between students, teachers, parents, inspectors and principals. Learn how to implement a conflict resolution strategy. Practice strategies for trying to get someone to join you on a joint venture.

Having a good general culture means knowing how to learn something quickly and efficiently. Wherever you work, you will have to learn things that are specific to the company you work for. What did you learn in school about learning planning, memory, organization, performance, and the learning curve? What does a schoolboy know about brain changes when you learn something? How is the information settled? About the role of rest? about productivity? time management? About common learning barriers? The role of practice and application of knowledge? Should I say he doesn’t learn anything about these things?

What good is a website if it “merging” with everything else out there? If you do not compare the ways to do this specifically with each writer and do not practice how can you do it? Good general culture in Romanian also means being able to express an opinion about something in a few clear and coherent paragraphs. This year I had the opportunity to see how 8th graders express themselves well when they have to express an opinion in a paragraph. A performance that can be loosely described as average.

You leave school without basic concepts of hygiene. Having a general background in biology means knowing viruses and bacteria. Find out how long the virus or bacteria live outside the organism. What does incubation period mean? Learn about the causes of each of the common illnesses, from hepatitis to the common cold. What good is a website if it “merging” with everything else out there? If you do not know what causes headache or back pain? If you do not know how the drug works in the human body? How a drug is brought to the market, why some cost so much, and what tests they undergo before selling it in pharmacies. These are all things that will look right at you in your adult life. Nobody bothered to talk about the usual things at school. For example, how can food be preserved? What are the usual preservatives and what exactly happens? How toxic is fat burning? What about excessive consumption of sugar? How is lime formed? What bacteria are there? What is the effective toothpaste? Yes, you need chemistry, not just biology, to answer these questions. But, as I said above, joint classes can be made. But maybe no one wants that, or maybe school teachers can’t do it.

The fact that you are able to use a foreign language also means that you can read and have a conversation in that language. But that is why it is so important to have conversations in this language at school. Were you encouraged to read text online in a foreign language, especially texts that interest you, texts about bands, movies, computer games. This is a decent thing to do, and it should end there. How many friends from other countries do the students have? Friends I speak to in a foreign language. How encouraged is this behavior in Roman schools? Mobility is much higher today, moving to another country is still easier, and the importance of mastering a foreign language is always increasing. It seems more important to me to know a foreign language today, than it was 10 years ago. It is very important to learn how to use it concretely through dialogue with others, and it is much more important than solving grammar exercises.

How many times did the chemistry teacher agree to ask specific questions and discuss them for hours? About pollution, methods of manufacturing plastics, about resins, types of adhesives, paints? About the difference between gasoline and diesel? How toxic are they? How does it affect the human body? To be able to explain these things you have to know biology, anatomy, and chemistry. Why aren’t there common hours to answer these kinds of questions? Having a general education in chemistry means knowing what substances you use most often and what their effects are. We all use chlorine and fluorine. How do they work? How toxic are they? What are the substances in the usual detergents? How do they work? All the practical things you encounter in your life that leave school without information about them. Needless to say, most students finish high school and don’t know what the scientific method is and how they can apply it to current problems? Although they have been studying science for years in school. But they have not learned how to get results in science. All they did was memorize the results of science.

I don’t want to hear outspoken generals like “sports are healthy”. I want specific details. What are the effects on the joints? heart? lungs? immune system? What does it mean to be physically fit? What are the criteria for looking at the human body in form? How do these parameters change with age? What is the relationship between sports and learning? Name a study, a site that provides up-to-date information on these topics. Does anyone ever know about these topics in sports? But to answer these questions, the sports teacher has to do more than just give the students a ball and let them play football.

Why make all sorts of dry equations when you understand math better if you have some examples in physics to apply to them? How much does a car in front of the wind consume? How aerodynamic should the design be? You need knowledge in many areas to answer these questions. You can draw, physics and math at the same time. Drawing because you will try many car body models. Physics because you’re talking about all kinds of forces acting simultaneously. The math because you define this whole process. You can also use a computer for this purpose, as well as computer science. You can check the results by connecting with other high schools around the world. You can also use the foreign languages ​​you have learned. Only when these things happen in secondary schools in Romania can you say that students get a good general culture here.

You will experience all of the above in your adult life. The school does not provide answers to even 1% of these questions. How do you feel that what you are learning is useful, useful and vital? How do you feel from year to year that you are more capable, more enlightened, have more confidence in yourself, and manage more types of situations if you are not exposed in school to the kind of experiences that will produce this change in you? It requires a complete restructuring of the information taught in school, the way it is taught, it takes much more time for the practical application of the acquired concepts.

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