Here is a classic comedy bit by Don Novello (Father Guido Sarducci) regarding a more pragmatic approach toward higher education. It’s obviously not meant to be taken too seriously. Then again, given how expensive university degrees are and how little we tend to remember from college, there may be some truth to it. If anything, it suggests that maybe traditional education could be made more efficient.
Five Minute University
by Father Guido Sarducci
I find that education, it don’t matter where you go to school, Italy, America, Brazil, all are the same — it’s all this memorization and it don’t matter how long you can remember anything just so you can parrot it back for the tests.
I got this idea for a school I would like to start, something called the Five Minute University. The idea is that in five minutes you learn what the average college graduate remembers five years after he or she is out of school.
It would cost like twenty dollars. That might seem like a lot of money, twenty dollars just for five minutes, but that’s for like tuition, cap and gown rental, graduation picture, snacks, everything. Everything included.
You know, like in college you have to take a foreign language. Well, at the Five Minute University you can have your choice, any language you want you can take it. Say if you want to take Spanish, what I teach you is “¿Como está usted?” that means, “how are you”, and the answer is “muy bien,” means “very well.” And believe me, if you took two years of college Spanish, five years after you are out of school “¿Como está usted?” and “muy bien” about all you’re gonna remember.
So in my school that’s all you learn. You see, you don’t have to waste your time with conjugations and vocabulary, all that junk. You’ll just forget it anyway, what’s the difference.
Economics? “Supply and Demand.” That’s it. Business is, “you buy something, and you sell it for more.” Theology, I’m gonna have a theology department, you know, since I’m a priest, and what you have to learn in theology is the answer to the question, “Where is God?”, and the answer is, “God is everywhere.” Why? “Because he likes you.” That’s kind of a combination of the Disney and Roman Catholic philosophy. It’s just perfect for the late 70s or early 80s you know, just perfect.
Well, after the courses are all over, then it’s time for a little Easter vacation. No time to go to Fort Lauderdale, only lasts for like twenty seconds. But what I’ll do for you, I like to turn on the sun lamp you know, give you a little glass of orange juice, that’s for the snack part, orange juice, and then after vacation it’s time for the final exams. I say to you, “¿Como está usted?” you say “muy bien,” “Where is God?” “God is everywhere,” Economics, “supply and demand,” then you put on a cap and a gown, I get out my Polaroid camera, you know, make a little snap flash picture for you, I give you the picture, you give me twenty dollars, I give you a diploma, and you’re a college graduate, ready to go.
I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure, right next door to the five minute university, I might open up a little law school. You got another minute?
Here’s a video of Novello performing this