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Top 3 Principles of Classical Pedagogy

Festina Lente

“Festina Lente” is a Latin phrase that means “make haste slowly” or “hurry slowly”. It emphasises the importance of maintaining a well balanced and deliberate approach to learning and teaching.

The goal is to gain a deep understanding of knowledge and skills rather than focusing on quickly acquiring artificial knowledge.

There is a need to be patient, thorough and diligent in your studies. Rushing through the learning process can result in incomplete understandings or the inability to apply knowledge effectively in the real world.

By taking the time to carefully learn and understand information, you can develop a solid foundation of knowledge that can be built upon in future learning. Similarly, teachers too are encouraged to provide opportunities for learners to grasp concepts fully before moving on to more advanced topics.

This approach allows for a deeper level of understanding and the ability to make meaningful connections between various subjects.

Overall, “Festina Lente” is a reminder to us to embrace a patient and methodical approach to education, enabling both learners and teachers to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the subjects being taught.

A teacher of mine use to say “Don’t run before you can walk”. After all, if you tried running before even learning how to walk, you’ll constantly fall over a lot, make too many mistakes, feel fustrated and like you’re not making any progress, feel low in confidence and at the end of the day, you haven’t really learnt anything much at all.

# Master Basic Knowledge

Imagine trying to learn a new language, rushing through learning in order to be able to speak without understanding basic grammar structure first will only just lead to confusion and fustration later on. Try focusing on mastering each topic before taking on the next. Build a strong foundation step-by-step that will support future topics.

# Mastery vs Speed

While rushing through textbooks in an attempt to pass an exam, for example, the JLPT (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test) in order to get a qualification might work in the short term, it doesn’t really help and you’ll find most of what you learnt is forgot quite quickly and you’ll struggle to understand the basic concepts and understanding to apply them in the real world.

Taking the time to actually understand concepts and their connections leads to longer term memory, knowledge and critical thinking that will greatly improve your skills.

“Festina Lente” is not about being slow but rather about being intentional and thorough.

# Confidence

Skipping important topics because something seems too easy, basic, unimportant, hard to understand or such often leads to frustration and feeling overwhelmed further down the line. By taking the time to master each step before moving on helps to solidify learning, which in turn builds confidence and makes learning more enjoyable.

# Quality vs Quantity

While it is very tempting to rush through content to cover more material, going deeper with fewer topics leads to a better understanding of what is being learnt and better memory retention and understanding. Taking your time, reflecting and building on your knowledge little by little helps you learn more effectively.

Multum non multa

“Multum non multa” is a Latin phrase that means “much, not many”. It is an educational approach that emphasizes quality over quantity.

It is more beneficial to gain a deeper understanding into a few subjects or concepts rather than arficially covering a large range of topics. Instead of trying to learn too many things all at once, you should focus on fewer subjects and exploring them in much greater detail.

With a deeper understanding and mastery of the subjects or concepts, you will gain more thorough and meaningful learning experiences, enabling you to make connections much more easily, think more critically about subjects and develop a stronger foundation to work on.

Focusing on a few subjects allows for deeper understanding and mastery.

# Deep Analysis vs Basic Knowledge

Rather than covering many topics all at once, you should try focusing on gaining a deeper understand into fewer subjects and concepts. This builds a much richer understanding of concepts and a long term memory retention.

# Quality vs Quantity

Rather than trying to cover every minor detail, it’s much better to focus on the most important concepts and explore them thoroughly. This is not meant to say to neglect other areas of knowledge but about prioritizing core subjects and exploring them with depth and purpose.

Repetitio est Fundamentum Memoriae

“Repetitio est Fundamentum Memoriae” is a Latin phrase that means “Repetition is the foundation of memory”. Repeating something over and over again helps us remember and understand it better. The idea stems from the belief that frequent repetition strengthens the memory and makes information stick in our minds more effectively.

When we review and practice things repeatedly, such as through reviewing notes, practicing exercises or revisiting important concepts, we reinforce our understandings and retention of that knowledge. By repeating information, we create strong connections in our brains, enhancing our ability to recall and apply it in the future.

While repetition alone wouldn’t guarantee lasting memory, it does play a crucial role as a foundational step in the learning process.

Think of building a sandcastle at the beach. Repeatedly “packing” sand and adding a little water each time eventually streathens the sand to form a solid base that you can then add more deatils and decorations to.

Repetition often involves repeated recitation of key concepts. This form of “packing”, just like the sandcastle helps you to familiarise the yourself with information, making it stick and become easier to understand and apply other knowledge.

Repetition doesn’t just mean verbally repeating the same thing over and over again, it may be in the form of games like quizes, wordsearches, cards, songs and so on.

“Repetitio est Fundamentum Memoriae” emphasises the importance of repetition as a foundation, not the sole strategy!

# Foundational Base

Once a certain level of familiarity and recall is established, you should focus more on the deeper understandings, analysis, critical thinking and other uses of the information you have memorised. What you have memorised acts like a foundational base that allows you to be more creative and add more blocks of knowledge on top of it.

# Rote vs Meaningful

Blindly repeating without understanding can lead to frustration and shallow knowledge. Classical Pedagogy emphasises the understanding of context and meaning behind memorised information.

Not everyone has the same learning style. Different people respond better to different methods. While repetition works for some people, others may benefit more from stories, visuals or other pratical approaches.

Also, it’s important to note that not all information is best learnt through repetition. Complex concepts or skills may actually require a much different style of learning.

For example, someone could be learning 2,000 different Kanji characters but no matter how many times, even if thousands of times of repeating those 2,000 Kanji characters, they’ll still struggle and constantly forget more than 75% of them whereas combining those Kanji characters into a story could mean a person may be able to remember all 2,000 Kanji characters by only ever seeing them once or twice.

While rote repetition might help with recognition at first, understanding the actual meaning and usage of each character, coupled with contextual exposure would lead to a much deeper and more permanent learning experince. Combining this with other effective learning methods and tailoring it to your own needs and learning styles leads to more meaningful and lasting knowledge.