We know that education is broken. We can go into stats and quotes of all the things that have been said about this problem and I’m sure there are many people who would dare to suggest that there is no problem. But I’m not in front of a juror and I’m not going to defend my case right now, I’m just going to go with it as a central premise. What I would like to sketch out is the first inkling of a new type of liberal education. This will be a proposal, a vision of a better, more efficient and elegant solution.
Heres the main thrust of the idea What if the central aim of preliminary education was to equip humanity to be able to learn anything. Today the learning resources that are available are endless the teacher or sage is no longer the one in the tribe with knowledge. We have democratized that by now. Information is free but Knowledge is still hard to find.
To use our vast information to endeavour in creative, productive activity needs guidance. There is some very revealing data that revealed that most people who sign up to online courses dropout. People attempting something new need coaching. And the person who does this will be the new teacher. No, not the dry orator but The Way Pointer, The Goader, The Sponsor that you meet with to discuss your progress and your struggles. The Librarian-Coach that can show you much more than what you’re looking for but rather show you whats possible.
This process can begin at a young age. It seems to me from looking at case studies of successful people, there is always an element of being turned on to something and developing an intrinsic motivation that gave them the energy to pursue it ever further. I think that we can create a space in which we can create this intrinsic curiosity. Lets call it “the just browsing” stage. 6 months or perhaps more just looking at all the cool shit. Explore the human experience expose them to the glory of it all don’t give them a fact sheet to memorize and repeat back, just let them stare. explore the academic subjects one by one and show them the real world applications that people are doing with them. Don’t make them remember any of it, just expose them to it. Show them what the present global culture is engaged in don’t make them fill in bubbles about it. Take them on a walk and let them ogle.
Then show them how to hunt. How to find resources and people who can share with them the things they are curious about. Teach them to hunt themselves not to follow directions but how to be resourceful and strategic in executing an idea or a project. Teach them project management how to structure measurable goals. how to put together the resources they need and give them the autonomy to let them learn by doing learn, by failing, learn by playing.
After that we free them. We allow them to do nothing and feel the boredom of non engagement. And then we encourage them to choose a project, a quest. And we help them in every way on their quest. We are like the partners of y Combinator we do whatever we can to make them succeed. We connect them with the people who can hep them. With the resources that they can learn new skills from,with the tools they actually need for their quest. And after 5(?) quests however long, we let them free to continue enjoying the happiness of pursuit.
What we’ve learned over the last 25 years is that innovation can not be manufactured by orders from above. The good society is the proactive, flourishing society and the active flourishing society cannot be created by manufacturing students that behave. We have to empower them to create to take risks, to be vulnerable.
Today that is possible, it is happening already but it hasn’t been scaled yet there have been many people writing and reporting on the state of affairs but not enough people doing things to change this model.
We all know the tremendous power of the internet to join people in creating new meaningful projects. So this is the proposal:Lets build a real world space to begin test out this idea.
I’ll sketch out some obvious things we would need to get started:
1)A group of young kids. I think kids age 7 would work well they are in the curious stage and we could encourage that and build upon it instead of beating it out of them.
2)People that will act as curiosity guides. Perhaps educators, although I don’t think many of them will understand the idea of education as I’m reimagining it. I think story tellers would be better. People who understand how to inspire and encourage, marketers that don’t think of themselves as marketers but as culture makers.
3)Materials by which to expose them to the gamut of human activity. A collection of all types of media by which to blow their mind,Not form it.
If this idea is something you would like to be a part of connect with me and let me know what you had in mind and of course share this post. Today it’s so easy to get attention and communicate out ideas , but the spreading of them is in your hands, only if you choose to share this can it go anywhere. So its up to you, I look forward to seeing what you choose to do.