Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ratio Studiorum

I think the Jesuits really knew what they were doing when they wrote their guide to a reasonable education. The French have based their education system on this book, and it's really interesting to read it. They, like the ancient Greeks and Romans, attached a lot of importance to oral matters: half of their education depended on the professor reading out loud and the students taking notes, then repeating (out loud again) all that they had absorbed and analyzed. They focus on written work to, but everything they wrote was immediately read out loud. I'm really fascinated by that type of learning if only because it's so different from the way my middle school/high school education was. In America, they never expected us to talk in front of the whole class, give speeches, or anything like that. It was never even completely necessary to listen to the teacher - whatever he/she told us was probably in a textbook somewhere. That's one main difference - everything in American education is centered around having time. There are barely no timed situations - I mean, look at the regents exams: those tests have time limits, but it's basically a joke. They say you only have three hours, but it only takes one to finish the test. Even the AP tests and the SAT weren't too bad when it came to timing. Then, everything we did in school we were given plenty of time to be able to do it - and we spent tons of time on the simplest topics. It seems like with the Ratio Studiorum and the French classes I'm taking, they expect you to do something in a certain amount of time in class, and then that's it. That's your entire grade. In American classes, there are tests that are timed, but timing's never an issue; but then there are also plenty of other assignments that you do at home with practically an unlimited amount of time and that's what counts for a lot of your grade. And another thing, so many Americans (myself included) are afraid of public speaking - obviously, that isn't an option with the Ratio Studiorum or French education. That settles it - I think all high schools in the United States should be like the French immersion high schools. That's the way to go. The colleges can stay the way they are since, by then, this type of learning would be hardwired in students' heads, and then it would be about time for them to be busy. But I think students would perform better with this type of background.

Oh yeah - my day. Well, I finished my plan for my philosophy mini-dissertation and wrote almost all of the introduction paragraph. I want my first draft of everything done before my philosophy methodology class at CUPA on Tuesday, but it won't be hard to write one more paragraph, so I'm not worried. Then, I read more of the Ratio Studiorum (hence, the rant) and Zazie dans le metro. Then, I met up with Alexandra. She got back from Hamburg today. She really liked it, and loved Germany so much that now she's upset that she never got a chance to learn German. In fact, we're both upset that we weren't taught languages when we were younger. There are so many Europeans we keep meeting who are just incredible with languages because they started learning them when they were much younger (see any of my blog posts on George Steiner) and we feel like we got the short straw in that we didn't have that opportunity and now it's a million times harder for us to learn. But, I wrote a long paper on that last year, so I don't need to rant about it here. Oh, and I tried a Mojito. Alexandra had gotten one the last time we had gone to that bar (when I got an Alexandra that I didn't really like that much...) but this time, we could both really taste the alcohol. So, let's check another alcoholic beverage off the list of possible favorite drinks for me. Okay, I'm going to fall asleep with the Ratio Studiorum under my pillow so osmosis lifts it into my brain. It didn't work with Music for Prague or my Abstract Algebra textbook, but Paris is a magical city, so maybe it will work here!

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