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Why Universities Should Be More Like Monasteries

Nery Rodriguez just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in economics, but one of the most significant courses she took there had nothing to do with marginal utility or game theory.

When she registered last fall for the seminar known around campus as the monk class, she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“You give up technology, and you can’t talk for a month,” Ms. Rodriguez told me. “That’s all I’d heard. I didn’t know why.”

What she found was a course that challenges students to rethink the purpose of education, especially at a time when machine learning is getting way more press than the human kind.

On the first day of…

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