I want to reform the educational system of the United States of America.

Zach (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago

I have a multi-pronged approach at the moment, and though I’m only a 20 year old physics/English student, nothing. You know what, nothing. I have no predictions, but why the fuck shouldn’t I try?
Here’s my goal. A system of universities with no lecture based classes and optional grades. A database of thousands upon thousands of projects designed to help a student synthesize information. A collaboration of teachers and students living on or around campus who may organize their own lectures on their own subjects and broadcast their existence to the student body. Students submit projects to a higher board for approval. Companies can submit projects for approval and even design curriculums for students who know where they want to be employed.
The structure of education is outdated. The information we receive is available at any time of day at any location on devices that fit in our pockets.
I cannot tell you how many times I would rather have built a laser, sent a small object into space, detected earthquakes, designed a scaled rocket engine, or whatever else instead of sitting in a lecture hall. I feel as if students would learn far more this way. I would like to say I know they would.
This isn’t just for the sciences, though they are the more expensive areas, but projects in sociology, psychology, or even holding lectures different places to gain inspiration in an English or Art project can easily fit under this. Remember, no schedule, no forced attendance, you educate yourself the way you see fit and the project record displays your academic proficiency.
The problem: Money. Tradition.
The solution: FIrst, this: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/end-war-terror-spend-money-education-please/RT8ZyJHz?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shorturl
By siphoning from the military budget, money is made readily available for the necessary budget expenditures required to create a project based system. It also has the additional benefit of keeping us safer than any army ever would.
Presently, I am drafting letters to the president of my university (to start from the ground up, creating pilot courses in my university that head in this direction) as well as to organizations such as the Gates Foundation alongside other affluent individuals with interest in education (perhaps found a university and lead by example?)
This has the additional benefit of encouraging the rest of the world to boost their own educational system. The entire world competes with our military technology in one form or another. We are the stress that pushes the globe into a state of militarism. We ease up, perhaps the world does too.
SO, ideas, thoughts, potential problems, advice, (connections?) anything? I believe we’re all aware what education as opposed to schooling can do.

February 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm
AJ Heatherly (1) (@ajheatherly) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

I like the idea! I’m an 18 year old college student, intending on studying Environmental studies, sustainability, chemistry and chemical engineering in school. I can attest to the truth that a system of application as opposed to textbook/homework education would be fantastic.

I hate to say it though, but, even in america, we have a limited quantity of individuals who believe that they can be ingenuitive experimenters who make discoveries. Many, many americans, ESPECIALLY young students, have NO drive to commit to education. This will be a problem that needs to be addressed before (or as) we move towards an education overhaul.

True, college students for the most part will find passion and motivation in such a style of education. but addressing those in primary and secondary education will need to move away from textbooks as well and encourage growth in curiosity and originality.

Great start. Keep pressing on this topic and getting attention from other institutions, be they grant foundations, ed. institutions or government agencies. The more we talk and discuss, the closer we grow to a solution.

winslow (85) (@winslow) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@zachripka, Awesome idea. Keep it up! I like the more personalized education concept. Like, learn what youre interested in, not what we want you to learn. Sweet.

Zach (13) (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

Personally, and perhaps I’m just paraphrasing from “Accepted”, I think it’s the responsibility of the institution to foster creativity and provide fertile ground for inspiration within the student body. I’m not so sure about the young students part though, for the most part I feel younger children are far more curious and willing to find out about the world than the few that straggle chipped and bruised to a college degree.
For instance, I could see a private school with a lot of money funding a trip to space for astronomy students sometime in the next decade as it is. Imagine if the programs were designed to provide experiences that have significant value to the student? It doesn’t have to be that extreme, but courses in geology could offer lab like courses or trips based on photographing various formations of a gorge during a white water rafting trip. Engineering students could partner with atmospheric science students to build weather drones and balloons. People interested in English could perform social experiments in surrounding areas to get better insight on character development. Etc, etc..
I just have an issue with the uncompromising structure of the system as is.

Zach (13) (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

The classroom just feels so limited these days.

Anonymous (19) (@) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@zachripka, I love the idea, I really do. But what you’re going up against are the special interest groups that have controlled the government for the last 100 years. Those White House petitions just mean the current administration has to address whatever issue got the 35,000 signatures. It doesn’t mean they have to change anything or take action. And, well, to be frank, they won’t. The clusterfuck in the Middle East was fought for no reason other than profit and national interest (oil, opium, etc.). My point being is that it’s not as simple as ‘Just siphon money from the defense budget’. It goes much deeper than that. If you want to start educating people differently, I suppose you could shoot for opening your own school/college/university with a curriculum that you agree with. It’s much more realistic than trying to change the entire education system in a country where every single area of government is pocketing lobbyist money. Including the Department of Education.

Thunderfeet (161) (@thunderfeet) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@drakonerythros, Yeah you hit the nail on the head, to many people profit from the system in place.

@zachripka, The idea you give is amazing and I agree independent learning is the next step in education. For something like this to reach its full potential it would have to be implemented at a young age and basically completely change the educational system. The majority of people these days would not be able to switch to a system like the one you propose because they lack the motivation to keep them selves on task and the time management skills. Also with a system like this people would have to be taught critical thinking and analysis. They would stop being sheep and start living as true human beings and the corporations in charge simple cannot allow that.

The best way to really change our education system is to make it private and have some sort of leaderboard where parents can compare schools. So the best schools would be at the top and get more students which would mean every school would be competing to give students the best education to secure more students. For this to work even better school and class sizes would have to be smaller. For example, in my hometown we have two high schools each with around 1500 students. With this new system those schools would break down into 10-15 different schools each competing with each other to offer the best education.

Children are our future and we should put every resource we have into making a system that will help them learn the best, then they would be able to take what they’ve learned and make that system better until we have the perfect system. Instead we have the same system breaking down their minds and if they can’t focus they get pumped full of psychotropic drugs. I am greatly interested in the educational system and how we can make it better and I have made another thread about it.

The Educational System is Designed to make People hate learning

The main post is just about what I see wrong in our system and my last post is idea’s to make it better. The posts are a bit old and some of my ideas are not explained in the best way, I’ve had more time to think about it and I can elaborate more if need.

Dyan (45) (@ghostofisis) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

There is an educational alternative called “unschooling” — basically taking kids out of a classroom and have them focus on a couple of subjects/activities they have passion for. I think the outcome of changing the structure of our educational system would lead to a restructuring of the working world and society in general.

Alex (345) (@staylucky) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

Dude I totally support your ideas and passion but college sport is one of the biggest businesses in America, so it would be nearly impossible to create something that would impact it.

I wish you the best of luck (so long as you don’t fuck up my television schedule :) haha)

Zach (13) (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@drakonerythros, I get that. And my ideas don’t corroborate directly with their interests, and that’s not hard to recognize. But indirectly, I don’t feel this is true. I feel we are at an incredible point in human civilization. Let me take an abstract approach to this.
The human species is a single organism. It’s cells are multi-functional and the being as a whole has no directive but to survive. It’s viruses and diseases grip wide swaths of its cells both physically and mentally, but the more dangerous ones inflame and take advantage of the nervous system. We’ve always had one. First it was communication, grunts, pointing, and a general ability to empathize and sympathize helped to bring about an evolution. We invented language, our nervous system could now operate faster, more accurately. Our cells could function more harmonically and could further specialize in their tasks. This pattern continues at each evolution. The next was mail, brought about by civilization. We now had an organized system for a cell at one end of the body to communicate with another at the speed of feet and horses. You can see where I’m going with this. The radio, home phone, the television, the cell phone, and most recently-the internet. Each further diversified cell function, compartmentalized them in much the same way that over millions of years, organisms develop heads. Well, we are now at a position in which we can utilize the resources of our planet to prevent the horrors of natural selection, and instead direct this process to our own ends. We are about to divide. We are about to move off planet, we are pregnant with an idea. As an organism we are about to undergo asexual reproduction, which requires the stockpiling of resources, though in something as complex as the human race, the nervous system needs to be in tune.
There are many stages to this divide, and we are only at the beginning, but some sort of stability must be reached to prevent the various complications of splitting a body or depositing a seed. I think that reaching some sort of harmony through education is the most effective means to ensure stability throughout the process. a process that benefits everyone in ways that all the money on Earth couldn’t do. That, I think, is the common ground between me and the powers that be.

Zach (13) (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@staylucky, Sport will never end. This isn’t even a bad thing. This doesn’t have to effect it at all, really. School’s can collaborate better while remaining separate.

Heed them, HEthen (91) (@heedthem) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@zachripka, Okay, so the only problems I see with this is there are different types of learning styles that people have and self-education would really hold possibility of not working for individuals.

Would this be a major-intensive only program? Would you require mathematics and English and the like? (And I hold the argument that you really, really should)
What about people who are really bad at math and need tutors and other things like that?

Another flaw I see is that this supposed regiment (or lack of one) would require students to walk into school knowing their exact course of action for a career, and know their major.
A majority of student change their major 1-2 times before a bachelor’s.

We also don’t teach students to explore and seriously think about what they want to do with their life from a young age. Plus, maturation can completely change a person.

There are a lot of things at stake based on the unpredictability of youth.

Flynnstone (813) (@flynnstone) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

Look at college like this for a second:
2 phases–phase 1=general education. Writing, math, science with a lab, etc.
phase 2=study in a major field of study and possibly a minor or a second major.
How would you reform within one or both of these spheres to begin with, possibly begin smaller changes that will later catalyze large change?
This is really just a fun thought exercise. I am an American student currently studying in Italy and the biggest change studying in an Italian system is that they do not have genEds. They choose a major (faccoltà) and study it for three years, and graduate. Period. No changing, or you start over basically.
**will return when I can string thoughts together better.

marthamena95 (85) (@marthamena95) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

I believe this could help you form your idea of changing the educational system.




Anonymous (2) (@) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

This manifesto should help you come up with some ideas for the plan. Just scroll through the page until you find the version of it you like (PDF, a web page/HTML, E-book formats, etc.):

Anonymous (19) (@) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@zachripka, That analogy was pretty amazing. But the way the current educational system is in place is still not going to benefit or help you. Unfortunately, the entire thing is run as a business like everything else in this country. That’s why tuition as gone up literally 1000% in the last half century. And the people who are profiting don’t want it to change, because this way they profit the most (student loans, 2/3 of students have to take out loans to go to college/university). You’re definitely right though that we are at a unique point in human history. When the house of cards that the United States economy is built on collapses, the world will go with it, and there will have to be a new system put in place. Perhaps people will look back and wonder why they ever paid 55,000 dollars a year to get a degree that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, to get a job that has nothing to do with their degree. People will want a new educational system. And perhaps you could be the man to lead that educational revolution.

adam (71) (@adamd) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@zachripka, I love this thread. The part up until when you said cost could be the only thing holding us back was great. Honestly I feel cost is the huge advantage. Let’s OPEN SOURCE education. It already is, but let’s make it POPULAR. Get rid of paid professors. Get rid of classrooms. Let’s meet up with our peers and teach what we know and build projects together. Let’s build community! http://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking.html?fb_action_ids=10151789526669097&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210151789526669097%22%3A549545648411820%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210151789526669097%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D
Btw, the purpose of the video is to be applied to schooling. Why do we pay so much to get educated? It doesn’t make sense. If you really care about the well being of your own species you would give away the knowledge you have for free.

Zach (13) (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@adamd, I try to read through each response and reply to specific points and questions (I’m not the best at it), but I couldn’t resist. That is a wonderful video. Thank you for sharing that.

adam (71) (@adamd) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@zachripka, I really appreciate you telling me that. It was literally just shared with me an hour and a half ago and it really hit me as something seriously life changing. I’m so glad someone else enjoyed it as well! Again, thanks for this post. I really think the education system needs a HUGE rehaul as well. We have the internet (access to basically all knowledge mankind possesses) and insane ways of transporting ourselves large distances… What are we doing learning and studying the same way we have for hundreds of years?

Anonymous (2,654) (@) 8 years, 9 months ago ago
Zach (13) (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@beyond, I’m confused how that conflicts with what I’m saying at any point. Systems like that are what I use to validate ideas like these.
@marthamena95, Looked through those, did some research on the school, applied for the gap year at uncollege. I’m impressed, thank you. Gives me a bit more data.
@metaformer, I will. Don’t have the time at the moment. Thanks.
@heedthem, I don’t disagree. It seems I’ve miscommunicated. I’ve switched my major twice myself, and wouldn’t have any idea what I want to do had I not more than 2 full semesters of “useless” credits, electives that don’t count toward anything at all. But people know what they think is fun, what they are interested in, what they enjoy involving themselves in, and that’s what I want to bring to the forefront of education. If a company knows what benefits them the most, they can submit their own curriculum. The benefit to this is that if a student doesn’t like it, he or she suddenly knows not to work in such an industry. Obviously that works the other way around as well. As for being major intensive, I don’t know. A natural concentration or saturation would arise based on the students interests. I don’t think we should pressure people to choose majors the way I find it presently structured. I think there should be a core curriculum as well that helps students get their feet wet and allows them to perform the basics required in such a system. Basic math, English skills obviously included.
@flynnstone, As I stated in an earlier response in this reply, I’ve over a full year of credits with no value to my degree, but they’ve been essential in my deciding what degree I want. I think that holds true for everyone. No one’s perfect, it’s imperative to experiment with your desires.
@adamd, Exactly, the current system is getting outdated, cumbersome even.
@, I want to change that. I feel there’s a fundamental desire that can be fulfilled by improving the educational system in many ways that even the shrewdest businessman would buy into.

Zach (13) (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

Someone at some point in this thread stated a point about the white house petition, that it doesn’t change anything, that it just elicits a response. Yes, that’s absolutely true, but I want to know what exactly the government will say in an attempt to justify itself, and I want people to see and judge for themselves. It’s primarily to bring awareness both inside our species, my country, and inside its governments. It’s vastly behind schedule, so please, share and sign it. They don’t spam you. I’m not claiming it’s an integral part of the process, but I do think any bit helps.

Zach (13) (@zachripka) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

As promised, the letter to the president of my university:
Dear President Robert Jones,
Part 1: Preface to an Idea
Let me begin by saying I have absolutely no school spirit. I am not a “Great Dane”, I am not a proud member of some purple and gold colored throng of students. I am a human being, and that by itself means that I have come into resistance at this place, the University at Albany. Being a man who often possesses a high IQ, perhaps I have encountered more than the average student, but I don’t think any who stop and think about this would disagree. Perhaps you’ll indulge me by holding my hand through a mental journey.
Life began at one point. It did-obviously. In the beginning, single celled organisms rolled, wriggled, twisted, or glided across a near infinitely diverse array of microscopic environments. They took in information from these environments, not quite the same way you and I might identify a color as “red”, but nonetheless, through various chemical processes, absorbed what we now call nutrients as well as traces of chemicals that led them to such things-which helped them grow and eventually, reproduce. Once in a while an archea or bacteria might’ve bumped into another, and the gain of information about the other’s presence became the fundamental basis of inter cellular communication (though prior to this the complicated metabolism of a cell’s internal structure communicated with itself in very similar ways). Sooner or later, multi-celled organisms developed, and these gave rise to clusters of cells with specialized functioning, eventually forming likely the most important step to date in animal evolution-what we call a nervous system.
This nervous system took the archaic principle of intercellular communication and turned it into something that both benefited each cell taking part in this specialization and the various clusters of specialized cells surrounding it, essentially the basis of an organism with a brain. A brain is quite literally a bunch of cells exchanging chemicals in a form of constant communication. These cells are called neurons, though functionally they are of the same variety as nerve cells. You have them in your head and your intestines but they operate as one due to the extended brain known as the nervous system. Biology lecture aside, each cell is linked, not just the nervous ones, but those that they benefit and that benefit them. The nervous system is incapable of retrieving its own nutrients, and is in fact parasitic to the host. But we do not complain, for this is the same as each organ, unable to survive on its own, bunched together in a conglomerate of flesh that miraculously functions as a whole, so long as a level of homeostasis is maintained.
The human species has a nervous system, and not just the one located within the human, but the external one, the one that allows for inter-organism communication. It is absolutely the same as inter-cellular communication except the complexity of the organism means the communication is more complex. First there were grunts, we pointed, we shoved, and then a beautiful thing happened. We developed language. We could turn our heads inside out and guide other members of our species through it in a way that we never had before. Education suddenly became possible. From generation to generation we could pass on our own experiences without physically dragging each other into the separate heavens and hells that we underwent. We could communicate the fine points of our understanding, we could have a collected body of knowledge. Once such a body accumulated sufficient mass, we could analyze it, find patterns in every branch of this body, and we called it science.
Our nervous system was not satisfied, for this body soon became an organism of its own using science as a tool and human beings as the machines responsible. We could collaborate and build on the successes of each previous generation and dredge this body from the depths of the universe to face us. Soon we became one with this body. We became the neurons. I know not when it happened, if it happened with the advent of the foot or horse messengers, perhaps the city, with organized mail. Or maybe the telegraph, radio, television, telephone. All I know is that these past several decades have given birth to a revolution in this system. The internet exists, crumbling the great libraries of Alexandria, turning the written word, the texts, the forums, the politics and class systems of the world to ash, burning and absorbing the energy at such an incredible rate. The educational system rides on this wave, but it is growing too large. Our schools will fall. I did not learn to write and speak with such form and control from you, or men and women like you. I learned it when I was twelve years old, fighting giants on electronic forums across the globe.
Each day I am encumbered by lectures, weighed down, stretched and tanned by droning professors. Each day I am lost further and further in a labyrinth of grades, forms, files, emails, exams -bureaucracy. Each day the internet graciously accepts more and more weight from the ordained purpose of my presence. I am here to learn. It will one day heft so much weight with such ease that I will no longer pay you, not if you remain the same school.
Part 2(a): Major Grievances
This school is wasteful. As a species, we spread across this planet, consuming resources, refitting the globe to acquire the things we want, heat, light, and the fat of the land. We have done so wastefully, and as a planet, we are beginning to realize that. We are beginning to realize that from the stellar perspective, from the perspective of where this species is going, we appear a virus, a lethal virus, killing our host. Piercing the night sky are cities, blinding hubs of consumption, streaks of greed and disorder cracking our landscape and choking the life from it. We spread like one too.
1. We waste the vast stores of energy in this Earth. Every night I look out and see the construction sites, lit through the night, advertising our ignorance. Every night, the whole of Indian tower a brightly coursing monument to our carelessness. Such a gift as electricity fills pockets of this campus unused, day and night.
2. We waste the time of our students. We pack them into halls at early hours, tell them to listen, absorb, but they are sponges already saturated with information fed to them in much the same way, and these lectures don’t make them laugh, don’t make them relate, not to the lecturer or to each other. There are some gems, clearly (Paul Morgan, Langdon Brown, James Van Duyne, John Milanese, if anyone’s giving out raises), but overall, the quality of the professors is not something I will mark off as a capital gain. They are living textbooks, which I have already said, are obsolete.
3. We waste the minds of our students. We have them crammed into a system of exams that forces them to drugs like Adderall and Ritalin and we drink and smoke and take more pills to alleviate the stress. This is your legacy.
4. I do not feel safe here. There has been slaughter in school and society for such a time, and so heavily in the recent years. I am surrounded by thousands of strangers, suffering from the confined mental space of this university. Surely someone will break outward, as if suicide wasn’t enough, though that has happened already in my stay at this place.
Part 2(b): Minor Grievances

1. The parking and mass transit services system is terrible. There’s no nice way of saying it. Information regarding the rules set up is poorly distributed if at all and the system of appeals is completely arbitrary. The creation and enforcement of rules are essentially all they are responsible for, and they do it quite poorly. (A friend of mine and I received the same ticket in the same exact scenario, he appealed and I did too, he came in with no legitimate argument and his was removed, whereas I made a wholly logical case and still had to pay. It felt like someone was stealing my money from my pockets.)
2. Perhaps this ties into the last, but the on campus bus system is simply dysfunctional. The schedule does not even resemble a schedule made to match standard class times. The two loops, both backward and forward, deviate by between 5 and 10 minutes, which is wholly redundant considering there is an hour long gap between these two and the next two. In actuality, the buses also smell of human feces.

Part 3: Near Future Solutions (Immediately- 2 years)
Regarding wasted electricity, the solution is simple. Turn off the lights. At night, when they must come on in lobbies and elsewhere, keep them dim, use motion sensors to brighten them when someone comes. In fact, use motion sensors all over the place, in dormitory bathrooms and halls, lecture centers and wherever else it seems fitting.
Regarding the student’s time that we waste, abolish mandatory attendance policies. Some classes include class participation, clearly this will decline if students don’t show up. Other classes do not, other classes are taught straight from the textbook. Where is the sense in showing up? To ask questions? Fine, but we do have email, professors also schedule office hours. Let the students decide how to spend their time. If a professor is good, gives valuable information, or is otherwise personable, students will come to class. Abolish deadlines for exams, if possible. What does it matter if a student knows the material at the beginning or end of the semester, so long as he or she knows? This will help absolve cramming information and incomplete learning practices.
Regarding the wasting of our minds, new courses must be introduced. We need courses for the modern age. I do not mean courses on information technology or how to use a web browser, though I am consistently startled by the number of people who cannot. We need courses that cultivate the minds, expand them, give new interests. How about a cooking class? How about more courses that deal with hands on experimentation, projects that we actually want to accomplish? How about a student directed course? I recently spoke with Leslie Saint-Vil of the physics department, and he backs me on the concept of a project based course, where say, the object of one of the projects is to construct a functional laser, and along the way we are able to do things like learn about different aspects of the generalized wave function, refraction, damping, etc. This is the sort of stuff that the internet cannot provide, not without money, but I am spending my money here. I will happily participate in a pilot course of this nature if it shows up next semester or in the spring. This kind of course will ensure that SUNY Albany does not become obsolete and at the same time provide a level of interactivity with which the students can have a basis for the subject that they are studying.
Regarding safety, police the police. They speed through parking lots, talk down to students, pull people over at 3 AM outside our windows with lights and sirens that they leave on throughout the duration of whatever citation is occurring. It is clear they do not have student health or safety in mind. Continuing to the real issue, they arrive only after a crime is committed. We have a strict firearms policy of no firearms permitted on campus. I am certain that if someone wanted to commit a crime with a firearm, they would ignore this rule. I am absolutely positive of it. Throughout the country, areas with strictest gun control additionally have the highest gun related crime, for instance, New York City. While we are not a city and we only serve a specific demographic of individuals (those that wish to receive an education and by society are typically 18-24 or so), we are by no means perfect. People have taken their own lives here, recently. What would it have meant to them (in the generalized sense, the two that did, from secondary sources were apparently quite well meaning human beings) if they took the lives of a few others along the way? I would feel safer with a handgun in my holster than a police car half a mile away. I understand that in terms of social acceptance, this is a stretch, however this is an educational institution. When there is room to base rules on logic, that is what we do. Provide firearms training for faculty and students for free, ensuring minimal risk. Even petty crime would decrease at that.
On the subject of minor grievances, they are minor because they don’t require much creativity to solve. I’m not going to overstep my bounds here and tell you how to solve them.
Part 4: Long Term Solution
Eventually, Mr. President, we are going to space. We will do so or die out feebly on this planet. No, this is not a solution that is as long term as that, rather a solution that will be a stepping stone and a precedent for all educational systems in the future. It is a solution that despite being long term, needs to be worked toward today. It needs attention now, March 6, 2013, and it will continue to require attention. In order to attain the goal of long lasting civilization, spacefaring civilization, civilization with the resources to understand the universe, we need harmony. As an organism, as humanity, we are sick, and our resources are spent in a manner equitable to an allergic reaction while the sickness spreads. Psychologically we are intolerant of our own species, our own bodies, this is sickness. We absolutely must cultivate an understanding of the world and each other if we are ever to undertake the vast task of establishing civilization outside this planet.
I don’t want set lectures or schedules, or even mandatory grading. I want to live in an environment where I am free to direct an allotment of the resources I spend to be here in collaboration with other students to create things, valuable things. I want to take trips with my classes to gain perspective and inspiration, be it for writing a book or creating art, or for a lesson in biological chemistry. Perspective is a magnanimous aspect of education. I want a database of student, professor, and administrator submitted projects as a substitute for our curriculum. My degree ought to be based on what I can do, not on what I can recite. Teachers can live on or near campus and host lectures on topics that they find interesting, that coincide with such projects, and students may attend any that they please. I want a social network to connect me and my professors and the rest of the student body, I want the barriers broken, the mind does not stop functioning when the day is done, when the class is over. There is an education to be had in every activity, from video games to particle physics, there is something valuable in everything. This is what I talk about when I talk about wasting resources. We waste the most valuable of all.
The upsides to this are comprehensive. Students can become involved in what they are interested in, can ask questions of genuine interest, not just something that has to do with a grade. Students can gain working experience while they gain knowledge and can operate at mostly their own schedules. Additionally, companies can submit and design their own curriculums. This has the benefits of filtering out students who may be iffy about working in a specific industry as well as being a qualitative measure of competence for employment, perhaps the single most common reason that students attend a university in the first place. Most importantly, it will foster an honest desire to learn and to be creative alongside one’s fellow man.
At request, I will eagerly devote much of my time to the logistics and creation of such programs and solutions.
With the utmost sincerity,
Zach Ripka

Anonymous (0) (@) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

We should all just form our own nation, like Valhalla style. Create our own schools that encourage freethinking and spirituality. Go off and live in the mountains or the forest. My guess is we would be one of the most productive nations… or we’d be all be too high to do anything…or both? If that’s possible :P

tviste (3) (@tviste) 8 years, 9 months ago ago

@zachripka, I know this is a little late, but I really like your idea. We definitely need to move away from what we have now and I believe your idea is a step in the right direction. I just want to expand a bit:

First, I believe Universities were originally established for enlightenment and conducting research, not for job preparation. I’m talking hundreds of years ago, look at where philosophers and mathematicians such as Isaac Newton studied. These Universities didn’t prepare students to enter careers; the universities encouraged enlightenment, research, and flow of knowledge. With the invention of the internet all of these ideals can be conducted in much smaller more efficient Universities.

Now, how I think it should be:

There would be a list of tests made by professional researchers and employers (you will learn more about this below). Each test would have the following:

1. List of study material, accesible online.
2. Forum for students to discuss ideas and problems with the material.
3. Link to ask creator of the test any questions about discrepencies in the material.
4. Instuctions on booking time to take the test.

The only cost to the student would to be their time. Tests can be taken at research facilities, which you will learn about soon.

Now the student has two choices: enter as a career researcher or prepare for a career.

If they choose to be a researcher they would go to a research facility. Basically the facility would an office/labratory. Researchers would have to pass certain pre-requisite exams(see above) before admitance. Only the brightest minds would be admitted. This would be a public service paid by taxes, as such all of their research and discoveries would be public property, accesible by anyone. These experts would also be responsible for creating study material for introductory courses and answering any discrepencies students have with material. This is a job, the researchers would be paid, and probably quite well to attract bright minds. Yes, this sounds much like a current University, but students wouldn’t need to physically be there, there wouldn’t be a curriculum, and most importantly you don’t have to pay twice for the information (tax and tuition).

Alternatively, and more commonly, a student prepares to enter the workforce. Employers may specify students have certain pre-requisite tests completed before hiring (see tests above). It could be a mix of tests made by proffesional researchers and by employers. All these tests can be taken at a Research Facility. The only cost to the student is time taken to study.

Employers would be responsible for answering any discrepencies with material on tests they made. Employers can use Research Facility materials for their tests, or material they created themselves, or a combination of the two.

For example, say you want to become an engineer. You start a job search looking at engineering firms. When you look at the Qualifications it would read as: passed xxx test, yyy test, and zzz test etc to be considered for the position. So then you go online and look up the tests. (obviously it would be more than 3 tests as most engineering professions are complicated) xxx test is Research Facility (RF) created, yyy test is employer created, and zzz test is employer created. You go to the online list of tests, look up each test and look at up the details. You can access all the material for free online. After studying you book your tests and pass.

Sidenote: The process to pass all the tests may take years or months depending on the job and what the employer is looking for, but all the studying can be done at your pace and is free.

Now that you have the qualifications, the employer wants they take you on, and you learn the ins and outs of the trade hands on while working for the firm.

The main difference with this set up is:

Learning is free: all information is accessible to anyone for free
You only have to study for relevent materials for your field.
Important research done in today’s Universities is still completed.
Maintains proffesionalism by having tests that measure students understanding and compentency in their field.
More career training falls in to individuals and bussinesses hands: if individuals want highly skilled jobs, they must prove they are highly skilled and competent in the field. If businesses want highly skilled employees they have to provide resources for employees to make themselves skilled.

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