Saturday, February 18, 2012

In college course, students learn how to live like monks
photo by: Matt Rourke
By Kathy Matheson / The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Looking for a wild-and-crazy time at college? Don’t sign up for Justin McDaniel’s religious studies class.

The associate professor’s course on monastic life and asceticism gives students at the University of Pennsylvania a firsthand experience of what it’s like to be a monk.

At various periods during the semester, students must forego technology, coffee, physical human contact and certain foods. They’ll also have to wake up at 5 a.m. — without an alarm clock.

That’s just a sample of the restrictions McDaniel imposes in an effort to help students become more observant, aware and disciplined. Each constraint represents an actual taboo observed by a monastic religious order.



  1. Once in a class I was teaching on medieval hamster fur weaving, a student wrote an essay in which she said "we can only wonder what the life of a medieval nun was like". This is an awesome response to that.

  2. I'd like to make them do these for regular composition courses, just for the lesson in discipline.

  3. Betcha very few students sign up for this course the second time it's offered. Word will get around.


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