THE GOOD OLD MEDIEVAL CAMPUS

WITTENBERG-icon.jpg

“Go not to Wittenberg” –Hamlet, Act I

 

Once upon a time in the country called Wonderfuland there was a 500-year old institution named Skarewe University.  It issued Diplomas.

Just about everyone went to Skarewe University.  They spent exactly four years studying exactly 16 required courses in thisology and thatology.  They did this to get a Diploma.

Diplomas were very valuable.  If you showed one to a prospective employer he gave you more money.  No one knew why.

But the country fell on uneasy times.  Even the students at Skarewe University caused trouble.  They demanded this and they demanded that.  And they got everything they demanded.  Until, finally, they couldn’t think of anything else to demand.

“I know,” said one student one day, “let’s demand that they abolish Diplomas!”

And not having anything else to do, the students went on a Diploma Strike.

The President of Skarewe University was stunned.  “If we don’t issue Diplomas,” he said, “we will lose our standing in the academic community.”

The business community was shocked.  “Without diplomas,” employers said, “how can we tell a college graduate from an uneducated man?”

Editorial writers viewed this with alarm.  “These radicals would destroy the very purpose of dear old Skarewe U.,” they wrote.  “They should be forced to accept their Diplomas whether they like it or not.”

The trustees were furious.  “Abolishing Diplomas will set our University back 500 years,” they thundered.  “It will become a medieval institution!”

And it did.

From the very day that Diplomas were abolished, 64.3 percent of the students quit to go engage in more financially-rewarding pursuits.  And those who were left found parking spaces for their cars—for the first time since the Middle Ages.

Just as in the Middle Ages, students  now attended Skarewe University solely to gain knowledge and wisdom.

And as there were no required courses, teachers who imparted knowledge and wisdom gave well-attended lectures.  And those who didn’t, didn’t.  Just as in medieval times.

Just as in medieval times, students pursued only the studies that interested them and read only the books that stimulated them.  And all, being constantly interested and stimulated, were dedicated scholars.

Thus it was that Skarewe University became what it had been 500 years before—a vast smorgasbord of knowledge and wisdom from which the student could select that which delighted and enriched him.

So everybody was happy.  The President was happy to head such a distinguished community of scholars.  The trustees were happy there were no more riots.  And the taxpayers were happy they no longer had to purchase educations for those who didn’t want them.

Even prospective employers were happy.  For, oddly enough, even without a Diploma, you could still pick out the applicant who had gone through college—because for the first time in 500 years, he was a well-educated man.

—Arthur Hoppe, 1968

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15 Comments

  1. Noochness said,

    December 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    “I’m not trivial; I’m quadrivial.” — James Joyce’s response to a critic’s charge that the language-play of Finnegan’s Wake was “ultimately trivial”

  2. thomasbrady said,

    December 9, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Hemingway doesn’t give a thorough description of Joyce in “A Moveable Feast,” Hem’s memoir of Paris, but what a portrait Hem gives of Ford Madox Ford:

    Ultimately vile.

  3. noochinator said,

    December 31, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Skarewe U. reminds me of St. John’s College in Annapolis — teachers make a lot of comments on students’ papers and no grades are given (although they are recorded); whereas in most colleges, comments on students’ papers are minimal, and everyone gets an “A”.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    December 31, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Re-reading this, I almost thought I wrote this, and not Arthur.

    Liberal arts universities now work like this: Watch a video, react to video with group presentation project with a crayon produced poster, in which the group replaces the teacher teaching/student taking individual responsibility to learn. “Student” gets an “A” and then a degree, as parents sink into debt and student returns home.

  5. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 31, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Sincere Happy New Year 2016 to all…

    I have a hard time with New Year’s and the whole transition thing. I always feel like I’m creaking along with the earth into the next thing and not at all prepared for it and I don’t make resolutions anymore. I like to think outside of Time, as in times past that were good, and Eternity where there is lot’s of space and light. New Year’s makes me nervous. I have channeled my nervousness into the following poem which to be hopeful I have titled Last Year. I have always thought of myself as a Winnie the Pooh type of personality but slowly I’m starting to realize I’m really an Eyeore (spelling, but then Pooh can’t spell so maybe I am Pooh) with occasional glints of Pooh. And absolutely no Tigger. Beats the Myers Briggs analysis all hollow this personality analysis via Pooh Corner. At least, I think so.

    LAST YEAR

    the saddest year beckoned but you
    did not know that yet
    confetti in your hair

    or snow or the leaves drifting,
    the last leaves
    the crystal moon dipping

    further down the sky

    another year they cried on tv
    hugging each other
    insane with surprise that

    they’d survived another one.
    from coast to coast
    or all around the world

    under their various sunrises
    wishing it would be-
    what was to be-

    dripping with tawny happiness

    straight from the honeycomb itself.
    oh we would be drenched in light
    eternally like flowers in the

    impressionist gardens
    somewhere other than the museums.
    it’s in the air, isn’t it

    in the cold razzle dazzle
    happy as in it’s your birthday
    every day and here it comes

    the year long birthday cake
    with every candle lit
    well, doesn’t it?

    seem that way to you?

    only not, this time,
    a something chimes from out the deep.
    maybe, next time.

    mary angela douglas 31 december 2015

  6. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 31, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Must be a Pooh after all. Apostrophes all over the place apropos of nothing. Stuffed with fluff. (But still glad to be here)

  7. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 31, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Oops. Meant to post this on I’m The One Who Does All The Work where Thomas wished Nooch Happy New Year. Wrong zip code. sorry (said Pooh embarrassed)

  8. Andrew said,

    December 31, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Just be careful when Eeyore starts to offer you that freaking honey-pot, OK ?

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 31, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Haha Andrew. Thanks for making me laugh. Life in the Hundred Acre Woods wasn’t all perfect either. What a wonderful book though. I feel like there’s a lot in classic children’s lit we can read all our lives and benefit from. Also important in the winter not to run out of honey as it was easier for them to forage than it is for us. Especially when the streets get icy. But maybe we will continue to have a mild winter, relatively speaking. Poor people that got hit with tornadoes and floods.

  10. Andrew said,

    December 31, 2015 at 8:55 pm

  11. maryangeladouglas said,

    December 31, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Very lovely, Andrew.

    RESOLUTION

    I’m lost in the woods I cried softly
    knowing none could hear
    knowing the wild beasts near

    at least I was told this
    when telling was still a possible thing
    and I have lost the golden ring

    of words to stay me
    the crumbs from the last little loaf
    from home

    my copper coins that shone
    and have only
    the dunce cap

    simpleton’s pie
    wool gathered in all the dream colours
    to warm me

    foot not shod
    still I will walk
    in the thought of God

    heart not eased
    and near no stream
    I can cup my hands in

    splashing the sorrow off.
    here I will live among the leaves
    under a huckleberry sky

    until I do not.

    mary angela douglas 31 december 2015

  12. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 1, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Pooh has officially returned to the overall tootsie roll center of my personality (just in time for New Year) and wrote (with my help) the following poem, it being difficult to type with paws…

    We thought this poem appropriate to the theme disussed at the top of the page, the parable of the return of the original, medieval idea of the university. Well, Pooh thought so and you know how deep Pooh’s thoughts can be.

    HOW TO FLUNK OUT OF CLOWN SCHOOL

    wear normal shoes
    pin stripes
    claim the seal ate your homework
    talk in mime class
    wear matching socks
    crash the unicycle and blame the seal
    dress for success
    eschew polka dots
    abstain from going in circles
    burn down the baggy pants factory
    make powerpoint slides out of the circus flyers
    make people cry

    mary angela douglas 31 december 2015

  13. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 1, 2016 at 2:07 am

    This also seemed appropriate here…

    LOVING QUIXOTE BETTER THAN BREAD

    [for John and Dorothea Gaither]

    loving Quixote better than bread
    I bought the book of what he said
    400 years ago

    and then the knight fought in my head
    against the things I saw instead
    against the writing on the wall

    the travesties both great and small
    the tilting at the underfed, the underserved
    the underwed

    the underneath of everything
    the sorrow springing in the Spring
    the festivals at all the malls

    the name of Art dragged through the halls
    of politics, not learning
    of earning not discerning

    loving Quixote better than bread
    I bought the book of what he said.

    mary angela douglas 31 december 2015

    • Andrew said,

      May 13, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      I missed this poem until now.
      Lovely. What happened to Mary? I hope I didn’t scare her off…
      I love her rhymes on this one.

  14. May 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    […] merely that we have misplaced the values of education and of personhood, though I do believe that. Education is about more than jobs, and our goals as people should be about more than material success. And I do recognize that […]


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