Hacker News Re-Imagined

The Catherine Project: A new experiment in liberal education

  • 204 points
  • 2 months ago

  • @besmirch
  • Created a post

The Catherine Project: A new experiment in liberal education


@zz865 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

https://catherineproject.org/ is the link - it actually looks fun.

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@hyperman1 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

Can someone explain what Vice-President and Climbing wall mean in the context of higher education?

If I had to guess, a Vice-President might be someone who monitors a room full of students or checks their tests, and a Climbing wall might be a hard assignment meant to get rid of less interested students.

This might be a really dumb question. In that case, sorry.

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@taion 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

Strong recommendation for Zena Hitz's book _Lost in Thought_. As an engineer, it's hard to take a step back and enjoy the pure intellectual pleasures of my work and hobbies, but I found it quite worthwhile to do so, and her book did a lot to encourage me here.

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@DeathArrow 1 month

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

>naturally higher education has been hiring more administrators to hire consultants to figure out how to attract what we’ve grown used to calling its customer base

That easy. Concentrate on subject matter and not on politics. If I'd want to study humanities, then I'd want to gather more knowledge in areas such as ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, history, archaeology, anthropology, not become a political activist.

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@tomlockwood 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

Free Universities have a long history and follow a similar model!

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@BerislavLopac 1 month

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

The project itself is at https://catherineproject.org/

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@WalterBright 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

> Since education rather than money is calling the shots, we have the freedom to ask unheard-of questions.

Who is paying the bills, then?

> no grades

There's a reason why students cram at the end of the semester. Without pressure from grades, they won't do the work of learning. I know for a fact that I don't learn if there aren't exams and grades.

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@glial 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

Interesting to see the deep skepticism in the comments.

I attended St John's College - which is probably as close as a "real" school can get to the Catherine Project - and loved every minute. Grades were not given, and there were no professors or lectures.

Seeing criticism about the business model and lack of tests, worry about educational fads, etc, is missing the point, in my opinion.

Consider the possibility that a group of adults may want to engage in rich and historically important works of thought, but have no interest in the trappings of educational institutions, with their tuition, grades, etc. Like a bible study, but without the bible. If you feel threatened by this, ask yourself why.

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@ygmelnikova 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

An outlandish new venture in liberal education. What about conservative education?

"We have no agenda to indoctrinate people in any particular set of social or political values."

and

"We’ve explored complex moral issues like when manipulation is justified..."

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@MaysonL 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙



@DoreenMichele 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

When I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, my husband drove the family to see San Francisco one day. It was the most beautiful and inspiring big city I had ever seen.

We stopped at the bookstore on the way home and I bought a bunch of books related to my interest in urban planning and read them while convalescing. One book was a collection of excerpts from various urban planning tomes. Another was a book called Seeing like a state. Another was about The Clemente Course in Humanities.

https://www.clementecourse.org/

To me, community development is about the people more than the buildings or infrastructure. Those things are not unimportant, but they need to serve the people. So I was also interested in the psychology of how the state relates to the needs of the people and how you develop human capital.

Human capital is developed in part with education. Jobs and other social connections also matter but education is one of the things that tends to separate the privileged from the underprivileged.

When I homeschooled my sons, I used to talk in online forums about teaching my kids a humanities education and defined it as being about learning to effectively cope with the inconvenient, inescapable fact of one's own humanity.

Humanities also gets called Liberal Arts. In spite of its current poor reputation, Liberal Arts was so named because the idea was that it was education that was empowering and freeing. It was, in a word, liberating.

My dream college back when I was a teenager, that I never got to attend, has a Great Books curriculum.

https://www.sjc.edu/

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@ntnsndr 1 month

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

I love this idea and, as a person with a special devotion to St. Catherine of Alexandria (who persuaded all the mighty scholars of her truth, which got them executed), I love the name. But isn't it ironic that, for a project named after a woman who schooled haughty men, all the listed books have male authors (except George Eliot, who felt she had to disguise her gender)? Catherine teaches us to look for wisdom outside the canon of official authorities.

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@derekjdanserl 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

As a humanities dropout currently rushing through a cheap CS degree, it all sounds like delusional charity work to me. Plato’s Republic is great, but utterly meaningless outside of political practice. And while engaging with Plato sounds nice, in a modern capitalist society Plato’s anti-democracy is almost universally misinterpreted to favor the same libertarian crap that created this nightmare. Evading politics, and especially political economy, is not the solution but the problem.

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@wantsanagent 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

"We rely on donations from readers and benefactors to pay our staff director and expenses like our Zoom subscriptions."

So begging is your business model?

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@tbjohnston 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

Gentle note - I participated in one of the Catherine Project's events - a two hour session on Genesis 1-5. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Everyone involved came prepared, asked good questions, and listened thoughtfully to what others had to say. I'd cheerfully participate again.

I don't understand the skepticism either. If people want to engage a great text with a community, what's the harm?

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@pdmccormick 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

Has anyone ever stopped to consider the ethical question of applying the latest unproven fads of educational theory to unwitting students? Ideally before large scale rollouts?

As someone who grew up during a tumultuous time for the public education system in Ontario, Canada, it felt like ever year or two whole curriculums were thrown out and the latest and greatest "cutting edge" approaches and fads were foisted upon us. I can see a lot of parallels in software development, but I wonder about the specific potential for lasting damaging effects for children and young people. I know I experienced some gaps that took a long time to be addressed.

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@bobthechef 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

N.b. the liberal arts education, trivium, and quadrivium are experiencing a bit of a (modernized) revival, especially in Catholic circles (some examples [0]). Education traditionally was concerned with the formation of human beings as free, rational beings. (The word "liberal" in "liberal arts" refers to freedom, in the authentic sense, and it is contrasted with the "servile arts"). In this sense, modern education isn't education. It's job training.

I'm not quite sure what this Catherine project is proposing. What you don't want is just some random selection of topics with no regard for unifying principles, intrinsic importance, or the fundamental concerns of human existence. Even the so-called Great Books[1] curricula, themselves often plagued by a bias toward anglocentrism, have been known to degenerate into "selected topics" with no unifying principle. In so-called classical education, everything that is taught is taught in a cohesive fashion, at least ideally. Modern education is Kafkaesque in this regard: things happen, you're told to do some things here, learn some things there, but there is no cogent overarching whole into which everything fits. The goal isn't to educate as much as it is to equip students with an assortment of skills thought to be economically valuable here and now. Of course, being able to provide economic value is important, but that is secondary to becoming properly formed. A technically savvy savage is still a savage, but even here, his savvy is bound to be superficial. Ironically, someone who is properly formed in a real education is more deeply equipped and free to provide economic value.

All education systems presuppose some vision of man. The modern education's view of man, as an economic actor and a cog in a machine, is a bleak, stunted view of the human person and ultimately one that is dehumanizing.

[0] https://catholicliberaleducation.org/

[1] https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2017/09/great-books-e...

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@schoen 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

In the spirit of the "things you can (actually) do (without asking permission)" posts, another one is

* create a small seminar of your own for an academic or quasi-academic text or topic that interests you, and meet and discuss it

I'm currently participating in a seminar on

https://softwarefoundations.cis.upenn.edu/lf-current/index.h...

and some people I know are running their own read-through of Plato's Republic at the moment. No university required!

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@throaway1990 2 months

Replying to @besmirch 🎙

Right even more indoctrination of young minds into communism and victimism.

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