An Alternative to the Alternative Graduate School Program
My 6-month, body-led learning program for my time off
A long time ago, I stumbled upon a blog post about the one-year, alternative graduate school program, and thought that perhaps one day I would get to do a version of that between jobs.
Now, I have no excuse but to start because last week, I left an amazing database startup after 2 years. I have no idea about what or when is the next adventure, but for now, I have time to study, travel and play.
More Doing, Less Reading
At the core of Chris Guillebeau’s proposal is the emphasis on expanding the knowledge horizon through reading. Nearly half of the 14 experiences that make up the alternative graduate program involves reading:
- Subscribe to the Economist and read every issue religiously.
- Read the basic texts of the major world religions: the Torah, the New Testament, the Koran, and the teachings of Buddha.
- Read at least 30 non-fiction books and 20 classic novels.
- Set your home page to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random.
- Learn to write by listening to the Grammar Girl podcast and buying Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
- Instead of reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, read The Know It All by A.J. Jacobs, a good summary.
Don’t get me wrong. I subscribe to the Economist, set my browser home page, read about 30 non-fictions books a year. And Bird by Bird is one of my favorite books of all time. But for my time off, I want more doing and less reading.
Time Out, Mind.
I feel like I have a disproportionately enormous head on a tiny body.
Almost all my life, I’ve been a cognitive learner, relying on my brain to acquire information, and deliver orders. My body and hands, however, were given very little opportunity to be the instrument of learning.
Though my cognitive abilities have served me very well in disciplines such as product design and design management, now is finally an opportunity for me to learn with my body and hands, and feet even, to catch up with the mind.
The Body-Led Learning Program
So here’s an alternative to the alternative graduate school program, and I call this the body-led learning program. In the program, I prioritize learning opportunities that use my body more than my mind. I prioritize learning through feeling rather than thinking.
- Learn to dance, ideally an up-beat, collective type such as African dance. (2–3 months to reach functional proficiency level)
- Learn to sing. (3 months to reach functional proficiency level? I will report back on what my voice teacher says.)
- Volunteer in farming and agriculture projects, such as WWOOF. (At least1 month)
- Volunteer in care-taking of animals and people. (At least 1 month)
- Build a piece of furniture, a yurt, a cabin, or renovate a room, a tiny house, a vehicle, or anything physical. (At least 1 month)
- Publish a blog post every week. (Starting with this one)
- Go on a pilgrimage. (At least 2 weeks)
According to my time estimate, the program will take at least 6 months to complete, which will put me back on the job market in 2019. That sounds nice. Thank you, mind, for working hard in the past decade so I can afford this. Thank you, body, for keeping the system healthy and strong.
And here’s to learning — a brand new chapter of it in the next few months.