A friend, who is a university professor, told me about the following conversation he had with a student who came to the exam, at the end of the second year. The scene takes place in one of the most famous faculties of humanities in Romania. The teacher sees that the student knows nothing, but does not close the exam quickly because he is one of those impatient teachers who cares about the students’ opinions of them, and moreover, as most academics know today, it is not a good idea not to pass the students because you are famous for being very dangerous, the courses have been avoided Your training or perhaps even the faculty in which you are studying, jeopardizing the main source of income, that is, state funding, which is provided according to the principle of “finance follows a student”, so it is not a good idea to rush to “drop” students. For all these reasons and the most unknown to me, the teacher gradually lowers the level of discussion, to find common ground on which something can be communicated. It is about this dialogue. I repeat the two heroes: the teacher and the student. I repeat the context: the graduation exam for the second year. I repeat the frame: one of the most courageous humanities colleges in one of the best universities in the country (don’t think of any layman from any slob).
Teacher: But have you heard of Jesus Christ? (The question came because the student was not able to say anything about a topic related to the Roman Empire)
Teacher: What can you tell me about Jesus Christ?
requester (all by herself): He said he was a good man.
Teacher: That’s right. And what happened to him?
Student: They killed him.
Teacher: Do you know when he was killed?
requester (after a short pause): in the last century.
Teacher: Do you know who killed him?
requester (after a short pause): Turks…
You will say, perhaps, that we have a completely exceptional case here, a student who has slipped knowing how (explainable, given the degree of academic deviation in our country) to the level of the higher humanities and that most students are not. Yes, that’s what I think. Most students are not So – More precisely, I’m not Is that correct! This student’s case, however, I think it’s helpful to look at it other than an exception, because an exception closes the discussion. To say “it’s stupid that you have nothing more to say, it is a good thing that there are not many like him”, seems final. Or it is more useful, I say, to think of an explanation that opens the case for something relevant and possibly important. Not all students will be So, but a large part of them, and perhaps most of them, do not have basic notions of general culture, even if they are in the process of acquiring complex notions of specialization. How did I get here? In another plan, you could certainly ask yourself how you could be studying, say, higher mathematics, advanced physics or cellular medicine, at the same time, embarrassingly uneducated? Because you have a fondness for such specialties or, more likely, because you like them. You may want to do more complex equations than read 100 pages of Proust or listen to Schubert’s sonata. But is it okay to devote yourself exclusively to pleasure? Is the defect in the formation of such a man remains without consequences? Is there not a healthy pleasure to knowledge in general and an unhealthy pleasure to exclusive and one-way knowledge?
Of course, no one claims to be equally knowledgeable in all areas of the soul – there is a specialty for everyone. But this specialization cannot bear fruit par excellence if it is not backed by a solid grounding of general culture, just as a skyscraper cannot rise on slippery ground. The more you advance in specialized knowledge, the more solid it will be the basis of general culture.
Well, I think, one explanation for diminishing the general cultural foundation of new generations of Romanians is the utter disgrace of foreign learning as a means of education at a young age. After all, you have no other way of knowing when Jesus Christ died and who killed him unless you teach them from the outside. Likewise, you can learn the letters of the alphabet, the multiplication table, some square roots, the chemical formula for water or table salt, the area of a circle, and the epochs (not even years) in which they lived. Same world with Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Stephen the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte, rules of declensions and conjunctions and much more. There are things that you learn with pleasure, and others that you learn out of necessity, but this does not at all mean that the former is more important or can be more useful to you than the latter.
It is well known that the principles of education today exclude effort, replace it or at least envelop it with pleasure. Recently man has turned pleasure into a law: if you do not like something, you do not need to be forced to do it, you have the right to do only what you want. This right applies from childhood. All education today revolves around having fun – the student loves school, then it is a good school; The student does not like school, so it is a bad school. Of course, there are other new principles involved: the idea that information means knowledge (if you know where to get information from, it’s like you know, don’t bother memorizing) or an obsession with competence (the exasperating “what a student needs to know this thing”). Or that?” An absolute form of parental stupidity, in particular), and the preponderance of network tests in assessments, but I would focus on learning from the outside. Especially learning from the outside which is not necessarily fun. Like, for example, learning poetry from the outside, imposed, in the past, in the Roman classes.
I think learning poetry from the outside is a sublime learning experience: it sets you apart, it teaches you, it gives you a healthy rhythm of speech (Coleridge said poetry is the right order of words), it enriches you. It is the most direct form of aesthetic education, but also the most accurate form of imagination education. I’m no longer talking about rhetorical benefits. Instead of going to “couci” public speaking, it’s better to learn a long poem by Eminescu and read it over and over, and think about how to best express it, closer to what you understand the author wanted to tell me – I guarantee you the result will be better than any of the courses that fills the Internet. And if it still exists, do you know teenagers who can recite abroad long passages of Eminescu or at least shorter poems of Nichita Stănescu? It is undoubtedly a hassle to learn verses from the outside, but what pleases you when your mind spontaneously encounters a life situation, dramatic or trivial, with a long-learned piece of poetry that is unforgettable!
Of course, the ancient Greeks were not as smart as we are, making their children memorize Homer’s poems. Readers with a good general culture will answer me on that The Iliad And the Epic
They were not exactly what we know today, from books, because they were circulated in oral versions, fatally inaccurate, which might make them easier to learn. And I shall reply by calling the ancient Romans, not liars, of course, for they made their children memorize the law of the Twelve Tables, that is, a strict and consistent written text. In any case, for thousands of years, people in Europe have been proving their sons, among other things, by making them learn different things from the outside. All in all, given what has been accomplished by generations of people who, in their formative age, have been learning much by heart, I would say they have not done very well. But for about two generations, we woke up and discovered that learning from the outside is harmful. In principle, the critical spirit and the creative spirit became the king and queen of education, and memory became a kind of trap to be avoided. So you can rest assured that you don’t know what can only be learned from the outside; If you are creative and criticize well, it is claimed that you are well educated. In the broad anthropological sense, if you will, it is not better to live in a world whose memory is no longer in people’s minds, but in servers, and access to them is no longer a mental process, but one of the fingers of a hand. on the screen?
Note: It is very likely that there will be readers, especially Facebook creatures, who will understand from my text that I advocate memorizing literary comments written by others or memorizing words spoken by teachers in class, and that I support the castration of children’s creativity and themselves. The silence of the corrupt, sadistic and stupid teachers. They will be angry, because the thing from which these creatures are created is anger itself. However, their anger is directly related to their inner demons and not my text. I advise them to learn the poem from abroad For the next generations By Bertolt Brecht (fits them!) And keep telling him until they pass…