Jon, you just validated an idea I had for new learning institutions…
Every one should dedicate themselves to lifelong learning. That includes society itself.
Whether it’s just the ability to stay curious and open minded or the very real ability to increase neuroplasticity and fight against degenerative mental diseases, being dedidicated to learning is indeed an amazing thing!
Unfortunatley, as you stated, schools do a terrible job at creating life long learners. Whether by the broken method of teaching or the graduate and ‘finish school’ mentality, people are institutionally instilled with the idea that learning is only something you do when you’re young, and only because you have to.
This needs to change. And I believe better, revolutionary institutions will create this scalable change.
Though I do seriously question the very use and value of institutions that centralize information and access to that information… I must admit that the power of communal learning and being immersed in an environment of other learners and teachers is incredibly potent.
But it is with this love of life learning and personal experience of autodidactism that I have been ruminating over a concept of a new k-life school.
An institution literally for life learners.
The earlier (st)ages would be to teach the fundamentals: reading, writing, arithmetic, and speaking multiple languages.
Then, the next stage would be to introduce people (primarily teens) to the vast breath of fields and subjects to find what they are most interested in diving deeper.
Next, they focus on learning as much as they can in that area, chiefly from people in that field, closely followed by doing large-scale (collaborative) projects to contribute to that field.
At this point, many people will likely have careers. The focus would thus now be learning how to be curious in fields even outside ones normal area and then contributing to that using what you learned from your first field of study.
Once you have mastered the skill of transferring skills to other subjects and careers, you will be tasked with primarily teaching as many people as possible what you have learned, what you may be wrong about, and what you will learn.
After teaching comes learning from those very same students to work on (their) projects as they contribute to or even overturn your body of work or just the industry in general.
To keep people from becoming dulled and closeminded ‘experts’, this stage may likely focus on figuring how to disrupt, revoltionize, or otherwise make your own earlier work outdated, if it hasn’t happened already. This is especially done by combining fields of knowledge that either would not usually coincide or that you have not yet studied.
As one’s life comes to an end, you will start all over… learning the fundamentals of this new world you helped create…
Of course, at each stage, learning is less about rote memorization and more about deep dives into storytelling. Classrooms are centered around discussions, meaningful (or just fun) projects, and teaching others what you just learned. At each step of the way, interdisciplinary fusions will be a norm, especially with the arts, and practical skills will be paramount.
Each institution in and of itself will be town centers where anyone and everyone can come, in person or even virtually. There will be parks of books, nature, technology, art, sports, and commerce woven into the structures.
These areas will be a safe haven for ideas and almost like an interactive mall of knowledge where people can easily trade and peruse all manner of information and even produce works as they learn it right on campus.
Education is about drawing out the greatness in people. It’s about time our institutions reflect this by drawing out the greatness in society.
Be dedicated to lifelong learning.