Thursday, November 26, 2009

The New College. Orientation.

Week 1

I want to change the way you think about learning. I want all of us to be able to learn in a fun and engaging way. In a way that is inexpensive, fast, and effective.

I imagine a school where on the first day you are greeted by fellow students and staff alike. For orientation, we are provided keynote speeches by some of the world's most influential thinkers and then invited to meet and greet where all students will be able to interact with leading professionals and innovators in varying fields. All wallflowers will be pulled into rigorous conversation. The fun starts on day one.

On day two, we will start with a refreshing breakfast and the entire student body will be asked to divide into different categories based on their general interests. For the next little while, students will be led by group leaders to flesh out their true passions and their personal drivers. This will continue until the entire student body is essentially singled out. This is when we recognize and celebrate our individuality. Students are asked to spend the rest of the day thinking about their ideas and passions until the sun sets. This is a day dedicated to soul searching and cross-student interaction is forbidden for the rest of this day.

On day three students will be encouraged to form loose groups, with the help of group leaders, in a way that is strategic to the needs of their ideas and their passions. This will take a lot of getting to know one another, and will require intense student interaction for most of the day. After the sun sets, students are made to interact with their group and explore their different ideas in an open and hospitable environment. On this day, we celebrate as clusters of interest and ideas.

Day four will find us waking to a refreshing breakfast yet again, and a new agenda. Today, all students are put through "group leader" training. In this way, we will ensure that students will always have somebody to talk to when they need advice or are questioning their own convictions and are about to settle. Group Leaders will be taught how to invoke people's curiosity and their passions. They will be taught to communicate effectively and openly and give constructive criticism. They will be taught to be facilitators of idealists. All students are expected to give time to other students on a regular basis, though with no stringent expectations, for there are incentives: The more time given means even more time exploring worlds that are foreign to us, where we will learn some of our most profound insights.

The rest of the week will be made up of "free time". This is time meant for idea exploration, rough planning if wanted, meeting new people, and solidifying relationships with fellow students. It's important to note that immaturity in the form of social ostracism will be punished. We all want to work in an environment of harmony. We are here for ideas, passion, and creativity. Popularity contests will be checked at the door. This calls into question a specific problem:

  • Social awkwardness. I define this as any person who lacks that certain charisma that others may have and therefore has a hard time meeting new people. Perhaps a day could be built into orientation for this issue. Or perhaps we could do a pre-orientation week, where students who have awkward tendencies can socialize and try to break past their fear of social situations. It would be impossible to succeed in our new college by hiding under a rock. We are social creatures.

Week 2

On week 2, day one, students are made to work on their ideas and passions with other students in the form of interactive questioning. Students are asked what they envision themselves doing and what that person doing them would be like. Students will interact all day with their groups talking, in turn, about their ideas and others are requested to give constructive feedback, while not allowing anybody to settle for less than is absolutely possible, no matter how remote.

On week 2, day two, students will begin mapping their ideas and how they imagine getting there, noting the things they need to learn, the obstacles they will encounter, people they'd like to meet. Today is dedicated to exploration. Students will actually be mapping their future the way they see it and mostly identifying the things that may be required for their success in what they've identified.

On week 2, day three, students will solidify the things they need to try their idea, make their creation, or pursue the path they've chosen. On this day students will work with each other and their group leaders to find as many ways as possible to pursue these things and we will give constructive feedback, listing the many ideas, eventually in descending order of appeal to the student.

On week 2, day four, students will start. They will start with the student body at their side, yearning for their success as much as their own. They will set out to make whatever they are making, with a large social network at their side, making connections, and learning from the process itself. They will learn via the process instead of about the process.

The leadership of the college will comprise of a group of students based on the college's size, elected directly by the student body in a democratic direct election. These leaders will be responsible for making connections with other institutions, media channels, businesses, governmental authorities, and big-thinking persons. They will be our ambassadors. For this position, the leaders may receive some compensation, but any compensation or gifting from third parties with whom they may be interacting on behalf of the college, will be strictly prohibited and immediately and severly punishable. They will also be the final authority on punishable offenses for students.

This is the roughest form of my dream. Most of the details are flexible and I generally intend for the college to have little structure. The students will have autonomy, just as the current system provides, which is essential, but will have extensive coaching, not just by staff, but by fellow students, who will comprise the staff.

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