Friday, June 5, 2015

Learning by Rote and Socratic Method

Heather Hastie
A good education teaches you how to think – i.e. critical thinking skills, not what to think. It gives you the ability to analyze evidence and reach sound conclusions. In the past, a lot of education has been about rote learning.

Education has to be about rote learning.

It is given to very young who are not yet in a very good position to think everything out for themselves (not that many ever are in such a very good position by themselves).

It is there to give them a solid bases for the own thinking and that solid basis must be fact.

Any education which is complete according to one creed will overstep that and include falsehoods according to another creed.

But it is certain that fact can and should be learned by heart.

“Tretti dagar har November
April, Juni och September
Tjugoåtta en allen
Alla de öfriga trettioen.”

Plus add that the one month that is alone in having “tjugoåtta” (28) days is february. Plus add that this is not strictly true for leap years (29!). How much more elegant can you get an introduction to days of the months?

Reasoning it out would be unreasonable.

There is no particular reason why Julius Caesar settled on giving Quintilius 31 and Sextilius 31, where Junius had only 30 and September only 30.

Or there may be some reason which would be inappropriate for young decent Christian minds to know. But the rhyme (I hope you Englishmen have similar ones) will give us the correct day numbers for each month.

Ben Goren
Education has to be about rote learning.

Paging Mr. Socrates. Mr. Socrates, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Mr. Socrates to the white courtesy phone, please.

Heather Hastie
There is a reason. Originally there were ten 30-day months.* When it was discovered the year was the wrong length** and needed a couple of extra months, and some needed 31 days.*** July and August were added, named after Julius and Augustus Caesar respectively.° July was a 31 day month, but Augustus couldn’t have a shorter month than Julius, so it got 31 days too.°° Too accommodate now having too many 31 day months, February lost a couple of days, except in leap years. (That still wasn’t quite correct of course, but assuming you have a good education, you will know how to find out what happened next. Hint: 2000 wasn’t a leap year, although one was due, and 2400 won’t be either. 2100 will be a leap year. )

I gave two answers, both to Ben Goren and to Heather Hastie. But they would not show, that is the blog pwner under whose post we debated was not validating my part.

@ Ben Goren

Socrates used his method on adults, not against facts they had learnt by the rote, but against more sophisticated things they thought they had learned. He did not educate school children.

Furthermore, if his method is misapplied to school children, for things they could as easily be learning by rote, the problem occurs, if one tries Socratic method on them while adults, after they grow up, they may get the impression they are being adressed like school children.

@ Heather Hastie

Several things you got wrong [I enumerated them in original answer] but even if your explanation had been entirely true, this would not have been a reliable memory aid for recalling days of the month. Hint : your misinfo includes ones falsehood about Gregorian Calendar and when it hasn't [and Julian calendar has] leapyears.

The leap years at centurial years are 1600 and 2000. 1500 was before Reform, so anyway a leap year. 1700, 1800 and 1900 were no leap years. 2100 won't be either.

Since your way of learning things left you getting this simple fact backwards, perhaps learning by rote has a few perks when it comes to getting facts into the head correctly?

If I write footnotes to this one, it will be on the rest of the errors in the answer by Heather Hastie.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Boniface

* Originally there were ten lunar months, and a month-indifferent winter.

** While there were ten lunar months and a month-indifferent winter, you did not have the wrong length of the year any year. The trouble started when you started a twelve lunar month cycle with intercalatory months. The new months were January and February. Intercalatory month was Mercedonius. And during the wars Romans eventually bungled which years should and which years shouldn't have a leap month to keep the mean year stable.

*** It is actually true that when Julius Caesar worked out the new calendar he found some months needed to be 31 days to make a year last 365.25 days. Which is still the days of the Julian year. But for Gregorian, introduced by Pope Gregory in 1583, first only Papal States and Spain, every 400 years are 3 days shorter (like missing leap days in 1700, 1800, 1900 for either 1600 - 1999 or 1601 - 2000).

° July and August were not added, but renamed. While Caesar was doing the calendar stuff, they were still called Quintilis and Sextilis. Augustus called Quintilis July for him, Tiberius called Sextilis Augustus for HIM.

°° Nice explanation if those working with the calendar had had to deal with two new months and with those names. But Caesar was doing the calendar, in his day these months were long established, and he called them Quintilis and Sextilis.

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