History 104A, November 7: School Used to be Fun & Now it is a Riot!
For those that were not here on Friday, I postponed the exam
until Monday. And the reason was that I did have some material I did
want to cover before we went to the exam. Now there's no class Friday
or I would have given it on Friday. In any case, we were dealing with
knowledge and learning in the high middle ages and specifically
entering what is often known as the 12th century which is the 1100s
And we sort of ended up, as I identified last time, on a major
dispute that was to reign throughout most of the 12th century, and
that was a dispute between nominalists and rationalists -- the
nominalists who believe that basically things we saw were the reality
and that there was nothing beyond that in the universal. We created
the universals by what we see, a table is a table is a table and then
we get the concept of the table; versus the rationalists, who believe
that somewhere God has revealed to us truth, beauty, wisdom, justice
and tables. Usually they talk about apples for teachers. I deal with
tables. And that we understand the differences between tables because
of the higher plane of tableness, if you will.
Abelard famous for his book Sec Et Non, "yes and no", brought
together -- and that's about where I ended -- the various commentaries
made by all of the church fathers to show that there were differences
what they held. Where do you draw truth? Of course in the medieval
period, like in the legal system which is really derived from this
whole basis of what we're dealing with in yes and no, i.e. precedent.
We weigh precedent. In our legal system, the highest precedent comes
from the supreme court. And supreme court cases are used for arguing
what is valid, what is not. And this was the work later of a man
named Peter Lombard who put together these yes and no's and argued
which was more valid based on weighing of the arguments. So he took
on Abelard in that sense.
Abelard's greatest opponent was a French bishop by the name of
Saint Bernard. Don't ask me if the Saint Bernard dog comes from Saint
Bernard. Saint Bernard did take him on and demanded that the Pope
take him to task for his views. And in 114l Abelard was forced to
come to Rome to defend his position. Abelard said that he believed in
reason as long as the reason doesn't interfere with his faith. In
that sense, he was not what many people refer to him as a free
thinker. He certainly restricted his own thinking to his faith.
Abelard, on the way to Rome in 1142, died. And with that, the
controversy ceased for a period of time, although it kept reappearing
until the 13th century when it was somewhat resolved -- and I'm
jumping ahead here -- by Saint Thomas Aquinas, although they were not
saints at that particular point in time.
What we then have emerging, in the 13th century, is something
known as scholasticism. Although in reality, I refer to most of the
learning in the high middle ages as scholasticism, which basically
means knowledge comes from deductive reasoning. You take a theorem
and you accept the theorem and you deduct truth from that concept.
Syllogisms -- all men are mortal; Socrates is a man; Socrates
therefore is mortal. We find then that we move into, again, jumping
ahead, some of these changes that are going on. As I mentioned Peter
Lombard coming forth and deducting based on weighing of authority, his
book became the standard text for learning. And it was called The
Four Books of Sentences.
We have Gartian G-A-R-T-I-A-N who basically uses that same
process in law and in the development of law and canon law, which
becomes basically the foundation or precedent in, shall we say, our
western law. And of course much of the law code is again picked up
from the Arab world, from the Muslim world, who has maintained much of
the Roman and Greek traditions.
We also begin to see, in this 12th century, the beginning of
universities. The universities in Italy are more or less graduate
schools for medicine, for law, for scribes. Balonia is quite famous
or its educational process or a graduate level. And the students have
a lot of input and say because they're more mature. As we found years
back in Europe, and perhaps it's still the same at the university,
students often stay on, not just 18, 19, 20, 21. They're sort of like
Ohlone College students; they stay here for 20 years and graduate in
their thirties. Not all of you, but, you know. Only those in student
government used to stay here for centuries. They felt powerful.
However, a different kind of university which was basically
undergraduate training, training for the development of the priesthood
begins in other parts of Europe. And perhaps the most famous is the
university of Paris which, in 1200, receives a charter from Phillip
Augustus who is the king of France at the time. It is an official
charter which somewhat separates itself from the cathedral and
cathedral schools of Notre Dame, yet it really still appoints the
chancellor or president. You have letters, information from the
students at that period of time. And humans are humans and students
are students. Most of the letters that we have are students writing
back home for money which is spent in the local bars. They had no
restrictions on 3/2 beer or being 21. We also have records of who
rebel against their professors. And a couple of cases where they
threw him out of windows. I'm not recommending that.
A Good thing you don't have windows.
THE PROFESSOR: That's why I chose this classroom. I wasn't
going to take any chances. In other words, there used to be bumper
stickers in the late 1960s, early vice -- I don't know, cars had
bumpers then that said that school used to be fun, now it's a riot.
And of course riots broke out at the University in Paris. The young
people roamed the street when they got pissed off at exams. Here in
America, instead we see how many people we can stuff into a phone
booth or how many goldfish we can down. We have our fraternity
rampant. But in Paris, they loved the violence. That's why they like
Jerry Lewis. Amad and I were just discussing the riots that are now
going on in France by young people. And if you haven't been -- and
that's why I'm playing on this realm right now, it's been 11 days
going into the 12th day of basically Muslim and black young people
rampaging through the suburbs of France and now through Paris itself
busting windows, burning cars, and specifically burning schools. How
many of you have heard about this? And part of the reason that some
of you may know is that France, in its recent separation of church and
state, decided to get even with all those bastards who demanded that
religion be taken out of the schools. You see in France, up until
three years ago, when you went to a public school, you had to see a
large cross with Christ's crucifixion on it in the public schools. It
was used basically to warn students what would happen to them if they
screwed around. Never mind. But in any case, with the demands from
Muslims and to some extent the Jews that remain in France, for the
separation of church and state, they demanded secular schools. And
the French government in its nasty way got even by excreting law that
insisted that there be no religion, which meant that Muslim women
could not wear their head scarves, sheiks could not wear theirs,
anything reflective of religion including crosses, whatever, had to be
removed from any of the secular education. And that was not what
Muslims and others had wanted or anticipated. The French get even.
And so the question being: What is France going to do at this
particular point? By the way, I should also note that there were
large numbers of houses of prostitution around the university as well
that came exam time were pretty active.
I might note that the European system also has exams once a year,
has exams only once a year, and that's at the end of the year. And
those exams determine whether you go on or not. And so the tension
for a yearly exam is quite heavy to say the least. Can you imagine
just one exam? A friend of mine went to medical school in Belgium and
he went crazy because he just wasn't used to that yearly approach and
the tensions that built up around it. Obviously suicides and other
kinds of pressures built on the educational system in Paris and
elsewhere throughout Europe.
So we began to see a formalization of the university system,
including -- I think I talked about it earlier -- the final student
rebellion settled down a little when they were able to get rectors
into the university system. The students elected a faculty member who
was to be their tribune, the person who would speak for the students
and try to prohibit the faculty from instituting any rules and
regulations that would be detrimental to the students. Ohlone College
is moving to get rid of D's. I'm not sure why. I love the idea of
giving dummy grades. Those were the kinds of things that were
approached and is approached by the faculty Senate to represent the
faculty and students. And the students of course at the general
colleges do have members on the boards, and we do have a dean of
president students or vice president of students. The university
system was based on the guild system. Guilds, not G-I-L-D, but guild
As wealth expanded, as trade expanded, as commerce expanded,
skilled crafts also expanded. There was a greater demand. And so in
the high middle ages we began to see something organized by the
employers, if you will, the skilled labor, the guild system, which by
the late middle ages or better said around the 14th century, the
waning of the middle ages, we saw in northern Europe these independent
cities developing a league of guilds. And in northern Europe they
were called Hanse, became known as the Hanseatic league, the Hanseatic
league -- let me see if I can find something here. It was sort of
like the western hemisphere common market that they threw back at Bush
this week or last week. They had interaction and exchanging goods
made up and controlled, not by kings, but by the businessmen. We're
somewhat familiar with the guild system, education for the trades
basically. The education at the university, the education at the
cathedral schools, the education at the monasteries basically taught
the liberal arts. They trained people in music, in grammar, in
mathematics, in astronomy, and of course in rhetoric talking,
preparing them for professions, as I indicated.
What about the masses of people who could not read generally and
generally did not read? What about the blacksmiths, the coppersmiths?
And in some areas in sheep herders in Spain were members of guilds.
They joined together. Farmers did bring their goods together, much
like in Minnesota and in places like that where they created
cooperatives. Some people called them socialists where the various
farms bring their goods together and store them or use the mills to
grind them and maintain them.
Parents looking to have their kids become trained in a skilled
labor would search out a mentor, somebody who was a master craftsman.
If the master craftsman was willing to take on a young man or maybe
young woman in some cases, they were brought on as apprentices. As an
apprentice, what it translated to was, your parents paid for your
room/board. They took care of and perhaps even an extra little
tuition quote/unquote paid to the silversmith. After a number of
years, the apprentice who did all the work, learned skill, might reach
a level where the master craftsman decides that they will bring them
on as a journeyman, which meant that they received a quote/unquote
scholarship. Now, they worked for room and board. Parents no longer
had to pay the room and board, but they did not generally receive any
salary. After a number of years as a journeyman, they then might be
ready to become a master craftsman. If the master craftsman felt that
the young man was now ready, at that point, the individual had to
produce a masterpiece, a particular object that they would make that
then went to, not just the master craftsman, but to the master
craftsman guild. And then the members of the guild, all master
craftsmen, would examine the masterpiece. If they approved of the
work, they then gave to the young master, which he now became a
hallmark, the hallmark of the craft hall where they met. And that
hallmark became a standard of quality. It meant that, not only did
this person produce good work and was recognized, licensed to sell his
product, but he was going to sell it at a fair price. He was not
going to gouge anyone, a price based on the material and somewhat of a
price for his labor, but not what the market would bear, but what was
fair, fair quality, standard of fairness and standard of quality. And
at that point, the young person could take on his own apprentices.
And that basically was a system, not of unions, but of skilled
craftsmen who were the employers. And I repeat that because many
people often identify the guilds mistakenly with unions. They were
not protecting the workers. The guilds created the standards and
protection, if you will, even insurance for the employers, for the
craftsman, for the skilled laborers.
How does this apply to education? Exactly the same. Students
who wanted an education at first came to the expert, as I said.
Professors would lecture to students, rent a room, and the students
would pay them. When they began to create universities, they
basically would have to provide housing. Their parents would pay for
their housing, their room and their board. And in a sense, they built
dorms around the schools, but usually the professors, the universities
provided this area. In a sense you, the undergraduates were
journeymen -- I'm sorry, were apprentices. And as apprentices, so
that you would show yourself equally and nobody could show off wealth
in the sense of equality of the medieval period, they wore uniforms.
Of course many private schools and some public schools do insist that
you wear a uniform, not simply for standards of decency, but to create
a sense of uniformity so that nobody can show off their wealth in
their clothing. Of course I don't know why they worry about that, you
wear nothing but jeans nowadays anyways?
A But especially with girls, you can tell the difference between
$20 genes and $200 pair of genes.
A I can't.
THE PROFESSOR: What's the difference?
A By brand name.
THE PROFESSOR: If the brand is across their backside?
THE PROFESSOR: I guess it's the brand name that does it. I
guess you can get away with that. The uniforms are, of course, more
The gowns they wore had a flat sleeve and, of course, they're the
gowns that you will wear upon graduation; but they were worn day in
and day out. Had you reached a certain level, when your skills were
there, you became a TA. They're using different names for it now. I
think at UC San Diego where my son is, it's TA. Berkeley has a
different name for it. And at that point, he's getting money, room
and board in a sense to be able to grade papers and a small seminar
group with the professor tells him to flunk as many students as
possible. He becomes a journeyman. As a journeyman, they have a
different gown. That gown will have a hood that indicates what his
specialty is, as the colors on the gowns of graduation do today. And
they have a long pointed sleeve which is the master gown. So the
journeymen's gown is that master's degree gown.
And then we enter the field of the master crafts training. You
need to produce an education, your dissertation, which is your
masterpiece. It varies from obviously discipline to discipline. In
history, we have to produce a unique study that ranges 3- to 600 pages
of research, original primary source research versus secondary source,
two terms, that is, historians and few of you that are history majors
definitely could show. What's the difference between primary source
and secondary source materials? Anybody have any idea? Hopefully
this is something that you will now know. Secondary source is when
you research terms that other people have researched and written on.
In other words, you are taking their material and looking at what they
researched, what their conclusions were. Primary source is when you
go to the actual documents, when you go into the archives and you find
letters or you find materials that came from the original people.
Primary source can even be oral interviews, but those are archival
library research, not concepts or ideas that others have written
about. So if you read a book and you use it as part of your
footnoting, you are footnoting secondary sources. If you read a
document, a letter, it becomes a primary source footnote. In any
case, once you turn in your masterpiece, your dissertation, you are
examined by a panel of professors, your master craftsmen. In most
universities, that is five individuals who orally/verbally challenge
you on your research and question you on the theories. You have
provided evidence which is supposed to be totally original. When I
had to do my Ph.D., one of the things we had to worry about in our
dissertation was whether anybody else was working on it or anybody
else had done it. And so we had to write away to the University of
Wisconsin, which keeps the records of any research that's being done
or has been done. And if it cleared them, it could be acceptable to
our panel of professors. That could take months. Today, of course,
we can Google and we can, through the computer, know almost overnight
whether what you want to work on has ever been done before. Again,
it's got to be quote/unquote original research done primarily with
Q Does this just go for the masters of like sciences or does it
also go for arts?
THE PROFESSOR: Again, in the arts, you have to have a show of
your paintings that are examined, your work. In fact, it's
interesting, I received just a few months back an e-mail from the
woman who I haven't heard from in 30 years, I think, maybe longer. I
bought one of her pieces that she showed for her master's degree at
her exhibit. And she's become quite well-known in a strange world of
lesbian art. And that would explain the piece of bought. She was
married to a friend of mine at the time, man, but I'm sorry -- just in
the arts that very common again to have a show. And the professors
will weigh and in a sense, grade the material. In the sciences, it's
a research project. And obviously it's not 3- or 400 pages, but it's
the sum of the original experiment that you would work on. Does that
answer your question?
THE PROFESSOR: When you turn in the material, if the professor's
approve it, you're given your hallmark, which is your diploma, which
is your sheepskin because the hallmark, your diploma, was actually
written on the sheep's skin which you could then post in your
business, office, school, to show that you were now able to practice.
You go into a real doctor's office, MD's you generally see in their
offices the diplomas from the schools to let you know that they are
certified to practice their medicine and by board certified extra
Once you receive your master craftsman degree, you receive a
different gown. The Ph.D. gown which is also awarded to MD's and
LLD's (lawyers) has three stripes on it. You now become a sergeant I
guess. And our gowns are the colors of your schools. Schools have
their different colors. And of course your hood has the color of the
school and your discipline. And so the different colors you see on
the hood that is the professors wear at graduation are also including
the discipline, doctor of philosophy, history, medicine, whatever it
is, which again comes out of the medieval era.
During the universities at medieval times you wear those gowns
all the time and probably had a couple of them. You probably not,
people didn't care about smell, certainly the French still don't.
Lots of perfume. Now, when you go to graduation, if you graduate you
will see me and understand what my gown is and why my gown is purple.
I like to stand out and that was the color of my school, purple.
That's my burial shroud. I get to wear it only once a year instead of
everyday. It would be fun wearing it everyday and drive everybody
In any case, as I identified the university system in itself was
a guild and still is. In fact, it's still difficult certainly for me
and most professors to break away from that medieval educational proof
which is the lecture. Since books were not available readily, since
they were hand copied and illuminated until the printing press was
developed in 1450s by Gutenberg and some other printers, students
would, on their papyrus or sheepskins, copy down slowly the
professor's lecture and attempt to memorize them. The concept of
going from my notes or my memory to the student notes or the student
memory without going through the heads of either one of us was quite
common. The experts in the middle ages loved and graded their
students the highest who could memorize the most material and
regurgitate, comma for commas, period for period. One study I wrote
indicated that the professors were extremely impressed by one young
man because there were three professors questioning him for his
masters degree or Ph.D. as we call it today on St. Augustine and three
of the works of saint Augustine, the heavenly city, et cetera. And he
was able to answer questions, which meant repeat the words of various
sections in a photographic memory approach from any point at any point
that he was asked the question perfectly. Now, memory was much easier
in medieval times because that was the learning process. Today we're
moving into a visual age. They're moving out of the print age.
However, medieval was an oral age. Learning came about -- news was
transmitted through rhyme because it was a lot easier to remember
things through rhyme. Troubadours go from city to city passing on
news -- the queen is dead or whatever, prince Charles and Camilla have
visited Beach Blanket Babylon, I don't know. This was done through
song, through the troubadours. And when they played the song other
musicians picked up on it immediately and could replay it and remember
the words. We lost that with printing. With prints we didn't need to
remember it. And not only did you have the troubadours, you had with
a form of poetry known as goliardic, which comes from the clerks.
This was by the clerks especially the students who made fun of
authority. Students have always made fun of authority. And produced
graffiti with their little pens, quills; they were write things in the
edges of some of the prior books that were there or they'd scratch it
in the sides of walls. It's written of course in Latin.
Quote, yet a second charge they bring. I'm forever gaming.
Yeah, the dice have many a time stripped me to my shaming. Look again
upon your list. Is the tavern on it? Yeah and never have I scorned,
never shall I scorn it until the old holy angels come and the eyes
discern them kin for the dying soul a requiem eternally let me ..
This are parodies that we find, satires, scandalous attacking,
attacking Bush, Pope Bush. Here's one towards the Pope.
Quote, a poor man seeks charity at the papal court. This is
called "The Gospel According to the Marks of Silver". Friend, thigh
poverty perish with thee. Get behind me say me Satan because now
knowist not the wisdom of cash... (reading).
Translation in a sense, do not generalize about the medieval
mind. Point -- people are people, students are students and you're
students. We'll see you Wednesday.