Monday, October 31, 2011

you, the uncollege student, who's in your corner?

If you haven't watched Steven Berlin Johnson's lecture on where good ideas come from, you should. He talks about the environment that is necessary to allow good ideas (aka innovation) to thrive. Listening to it for the first time, I immediately thought about how this idea impacts  the uncollege movement. If one argues that you can replicate, if not better, the actual college experience outside of the college classroom, then they must take into consideration the impact of community on intellectual discourse. If scientists actually come up with the "big ideas" around the team table rather behind the lab bench, then the "student" pursuing an unorthodox learning experience must ensure they find a way to get around that table.

So how do you do that? How do you foster an environment that allows for that level of intellectual discourse. Because though I have many students who would say otherwise, I have just as many who see their college experience as their one opportunity to ask the big questions, seek solutions, and find inspiration.

One answer is to find mentors (academics, writers, entrepreneurs, scientists) who will embrace your unschooling approach. And this may not be easy. Keep in mind you are challenging everything they stand for. These are people who have perhaps dedicated their lives to research and academe. But if you can prove you're not a hack...you might just get someone in your corner.

So, if you're someone who has either decided to "stop out" of school or you're embracing the uncollege movement, how are you creating an environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and innovation? And who is it that's in your corner?