Can I bring my father?

I got my three degrees from three different countries. I understand that in every culture there are idiosyncrasies that for an outsider they will always seem foreign. Here is one of them.

I find that it is quite common for parents to accompany their children to register in Spanish universities. The parents do the talking and the negotiations. So, when there is something wrong with the process, the administration has the parents to deal with, which sometimes can end in unpleasant situations, such as personal insults and threats of lawsuits. I have not looked if there are also parent associations in the universities, like the ones in primary and secondary schools.

As an aside, I wonder if parents also go to vote with their children. After all, most of the students are over 18.

Once I heard an anecdote. A student was summoned to see his professor.

“Jorge, I am afraid you are not doing very well. I think maybe we should talk about the reasons sometimes next week”.

“Can I bring my father?” Jorge asked.

“Yes”, said the professor, “and I’ll bring mine”.

Of course one can assume that Jorge wanted to bring his father because there was a family problem which led to his poor performance, but, as the reader can see, that would be missing the point.


Science VS Experience

A “Dialogue of the physicians” is published by Pedro Mexia in 1547. Like other dialogues written at that period, it is full of quotes from ancient texts and coloured by rhetorical qualities. However, it is interesting to note that the main argument in this dialogue is about science vs experience. It is used to  support or to deny the legitimacy of Medicine as a profession.

The dialogue is held mainly  between two characters, Gaspar and Bernardo, when they are paying a visit to a mutual sick friend. Gaspar vouches for, what is basically a very good idea, that people should cure each other with their experiences, instead of going to a doctor, who makes the profession a monopoly. A tradition it is, he argues, that in the villages the wise woman/man cures the inhabitants with their experiences that have been passed on for generations; and indeed, people who live in the countryside are more healthy and live longer than the city kids, who go to the doctors for consultation.

Bernardo, on his part, defends the necessity of the medical profession, because of the emergence of new illnesses, and not everybody can know all the tricks of all trades, and that is precisely the reason why you ask a plumber to fix your drain.
Of course it is not a new topic, not even at Mexia’s time. His arguments have been exploited already by Celsus, Erasmus and Vives. He can claim originality (which is not his intention to claim in the first place) only in the fact that he writes in the vulgar tongue, that is, Castilian.

For this part of the argument, Bernardo wins in the dialogue. And as one can see, a doctor is a highly respected profession to our present day.

This is a topic of interest because as one can notice when surfing the web how many people share their experiences and suggest cures. There are forums for everything: how to detox your body, how to cure hair loss, how to stop using shampoo, how to maintain a healthy diet, etc. Certainly, the internet has made the sharing of experience more user friendly. Once again, one says to oneself: how little has the world changed! It seems that at the end Gaspar has won the day.