The Hawk-Mo Hotwire

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contemplating education

I have long been pondering the usefulness of higher eduction, going all the way back to high school, as I was attempting to figure out what I hoped to gain out of college. Then, I came up with a totally off the wall concept for an art school that somehow didn’t rely on grades and didn’t teach art, it more provided a nurturing environment and opportunity for whatever experience you wanted/needed to get out of it. My friends and I were going to start this school, because nothing about going to a traditional college art program really seemed to provide much in the way of teaching you how to be an artist.

That was a dream I had long since forgotten about until today, and I was surprised to realize how close it is to what I thought of now. Taking it beyond the realm of art school, and reconsidering the way all subjects/majors are taught past high school, I still don’t see college as being an effective way to learn the skills that actually end up being worthwhile. College is an alternative reality, and it teaches within that reality, because that is what is definable by grades and recordable (and therefore repeatable) in a curriculum.

College no longer really gets you anywhere. Having a degree doesn’t immediately open doors like it used to, and you spend lots of time and money taking classes geared at making you a well rounded educated person. Well tell me this, does a computer programmer really need to take biology? Does an art student need stats? Does a doctor need English lit? Is learning those subjects because they are required to, not because they want to, really going to make them more successful in life? It’s no great epiphany to say that we learn best when we want to learn. So if there comes a time when the tech guy wants to learn about the life cycle of a cell, he’ll figure it out, until then, feed him all the programming information he can eat.

My idea is essentially an alternative format for higher education. I think learning happens best in situations of full immersion. I propose that education be offered in longer time periods of focused experience. Similar to that of an internship or apprenticeship. If I want to learn marketing, my best bet would be to find a marketing firm that speaks the kind of marketing language that interests me, and ask them to let me in on the ground floor. An interesting concept, and incredibly worthwhile option, when you consider that college costs money and internships are free.

I think classes could still be offered, but in a similar mindset. A month (or more) dedicated to experiencing the topic at hand, day in and day out. And it isn’t all for a grade, so much as its about solving a problem or finding a solution or creating what no one has thought of yet. Its all about self motivation, because what you get out of the experience, will be what you are willing to put into it.

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About mudly

Mud is main blog writer extraordinaire, picture guru, and the garden and adventure instigator. She loves to cook, but doesn’t much like following a recipe. She also loves typewriters, the color turquoise, and wearing tie dye with stripes. And she dorks out on permies.com while dreaming up and planning her next garden.

3 comments on “contemplating education

  1. Alan Finger
    March 23, 2010

    But what about all those profs who got their PhDs because they didn’t want to ever have to actually DO anything – just teach other people how to do things (theoretically, of course).

    • mudly
      March 24, 2010

      The education system as it stands now really seems to breed passivity, both in the students and the teachers. Show up, do what your told, get your mark (or your paycheck) and go home. Which is precisely why it sucks.

      But that used to resemble the majority of the working world too. Now that that is changing, I simply wonder how long its going to take the education system that is suppose to be feeding it, to change.

  2. Megan
    March 25, 2010

    Hey Mudly
    I like your thoughts on higher education- I think about it often as well as I consider whether I want to go back to school to get my MFA. If I want to teach art in college I need an MFA or something comparable BUT I’m not sure what I will gain from the experience other than the degree… that’s not exactly true. The truth is, I LOVE school (I’m a total nerd 😉 but I also believe that the most important thing I gained from school was the connections I made to awesome people. School wasn’t exactly practical experience so I totally agree with you on the idea of making education more of a longer-term experiential system… I also think every kid who graduates from high school should go live abroad somewhere and do something like build a cob house, work for an orphanage, or whatever– to get more of a larger world view.
    Thanks for your thoughts!

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This entry was posted on March 23, 2010 by in Everything All in One Place and tagged , .

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