Opinion | Why Universities Should Be More Like Monasteries | NY Times

From the article:

On the first day of class — officially called Living Deliberately — Justin McDaniel, a professor of Southeast Asian and religious studies, reviewed the rules. Each week, students would read about a different monastic tradition and adopt some of its practices. Later in the semester, they would observe a one-month vow of silence (except for discussions during Living Deliberately) and fast from technology, handing over their phones to him.

The class eased into the vow of silence, first restricting speech to 100 words a day. Other rules began on Day 1: no jewelry or makeup in class. Men and women sat separately and wore different “habits”: white shirts for the men, women in black. (Nonbinary and transgender students sat with the gender of their choice.)

Colleges should offer a radically low-tech first-year program for students who want to apply: a secular monastery within the modern university, with a curated set of courses that ban glowing rectangles of any kind from the classroom. Students could opt to live in dorms that restrict technology, too. We can work individually with students who have accessibility accommodations to find the best low-tech solutions for them (like turning off Wi-Fi, rationing screen time and deleting attention-guzzling apps).

I prophesy that universities that do this will be surprised by how much demand there is. I frequently talk to students who resent the distracting laptops all around them during class. They feel the tug of the “imaginary string attaching me to my phone, where I have to constantly check it,” as Ms. Rodriguez, who took the monk class and Existential Despair, put it. Many, if not most, students want the elusive experience of uninterrupted thought, the kind where a hash of half-baked notions slowly becomes an idea about the world.

Evan Lutz graduated this May from Belmont Abbey with a major in theology. He stressed the special Catholic context of Belmont’s resident monks; if you experiment with monastic practices without investigating the whole worldview, it can become a shallow kind of mindfulness tourism. The monks at Belmont Abbey do more than model contemplation and focus. Their presence compels even non-Christians on campus to think seriously about vocation and the meaning of life. “Either what the monks are doing is valuable and based on something true, or it’s completely ridiculous,” Mr. Lutz said. “In both cases, there’s something striking there, and it asks people a question.”


Make The Academy Mahā- Again! :rofl:

The Joke Explained

The original universities were "mahāvihāra"s — large Buddhist monasteries in India such as Nalanda — with the mahā- prefix meaning “great”.


The world’s first residential university - Nalanda (est 427 CE) - was a monastery. :rofl: