Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflections and Interests: The New Classroom

I am trying to build a new kind of classroom. This should look like a start-up company. In fact, I am trying to make it a start-up company.

So, here is the idea: I build something where studying means working in a start-up. 

I have been exploring competence-based education for a while, and one thing I learnt that there is a lot of difference between the rhetoric and the practice. The competence based courses become, all too often, about studying the marketing of the local deli or creating strategies for the cash-and-carry, the problem being that none of these businesses are interested in what the student is doing. They see no value, and for the student, it becomes an uninteresting paperwork to complete. In this form, it is worse than mass-manufactured degrees, because the student does not feel so bad.

But, then, there is little point in mass-manufactured degrees. They are so disconnected from everything else that goes on in the world. They are hardly about anything recent. Besides, they do more harm than good: If your degree is about obsolete things, one thing you learn is that there is no point having a curiousity about what's going on. That's the most pathetic education you can get out of college.

So, here is my idea: What about building an education in start-ups, for start-ups, by start-ups? I am not talking about the street-smart stuff that entrepreneurs are supposed to be made of. I am not sure that really works for the normals. I have never understood the reasoning why we say that the entrepreneurs don't have to learn when we are supposed to be in the knowledge economy and everyone else has to have so much more education. Yes, too much bookish education may kill off the spirit of hustle, but that's a reason for changing the method of education - not to get rid of it. 

I am trying to create a real college education through the projects of start-ups. The idea is that I create a global co-working space, bringing in different kinds of businesses with a common aim of trading globally, and enable them with a set of globally minded students, working on research, administration, supply chain, sales and fulfillment. The projects that the students do earn them credits towards their diploma; they also learn language, ethics, cultures, and the usual disciplines alongside. It is like working on projects and attending streams of seminars, all with an unified purpose and constant stream of reflection, alongside a global community of most exciting people you will ever meet.

Right, this thing can't be done on massive scale, but I don't want to do this on a massive scale. I just want to build a small community here in London, which is what I am working towards. If my plans work, I may get a few identical communities set up in China. I am also trying to work with a friend of mine to do an identical community in India. But once I get this going, this is a replicable model. So, scale comes from replicating the idea rather than creating those huge education factories that people talk about.

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