My UTNE Reader Project 1998 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread


-- Anonymous, November 04, 1998



"How I got my DIY Degree... at the University of Planet Earth" by William Upski Wimsatt, pages 50-51 and 102.

As I read through this article the first time I thought to myself that Wimsatt had a very unique and interesting perspective on education as it pertains to learners today. The second time I read the article I began to question his motivation as well as his practicality.

As an instructor at a liberal arts community college I must say that I strongly believe in the formal education that takes place at an institution of higher learning, most importantly the humanities. "The humanities are a foundation for getting along in the world, for thinking, for learning to reflect on the world instead of just reacting to whatever force is turned against you..."(46). This learning also promotes technical and skill training that also takes place in the classroom. It is my opinion that, not all campuses engage in useless curriculum with lessons that do not pertain "to the real world". Many instructors work extremely hard on lessons and activities that will inspire students to achieve at a higher level and at the same time apply to skills or information that will be used outside of the classroom.

Can a student truly understand personality dynamics and sociological changes without formal coursework? I don't believe so. You may go to the school of hard knocks, but you will not have the basic foundational theories that explain some of the complicated - why and how and where questions that arise everyday. There are huge gaps in that kind of learning, not to mention the assessment of true understanding. Wimsatt states that there are no classes that can teach you about friendship, about sex, how to raise money, how to love a child, and the list goes on. However, the courses you take at an institution of higher learning should give you the foundations you need to make your own judgements and perceptions, as well as a base for rationally understanding why. A good educator should challenge their students, and most educators do the best they can with the amount of time they have. This article discusses creating your own curriculum, creating ambitious projects, and acting on what you learn. These are all very commendable endeavors if you have the self-motivation and have a general understanding of what it takes to succeed in today's very unconventional society. I could have my students at the college construct a curriculum with projects that would apply to their everyday life or about life in general and I bet most would not have a clue as to what direction to even start. They look to me for understanding and guidance.

I am a strong proponent of higher education and will encourage my children to pursue a formal educational plan that meets with their interests and personal needs. I am not saying, however, that a formal or structured means of higher learning can only come from the classroom. There are a few individuals who have "mastered the planet" without a formal education, however the supporting numbers are rather low. My hope is that my children and students apply what they learn from the classroom to meet their needs in their everyday lives. Education should be valued whether it is from within the classroom or from "doing it yourself". I just strongly believe that through collaboration and planned curriculum education can be very effective in the classroom.

The experiences gained through self-directed learning are meaningful. They can save money and also broaden perspectives on how you see life. As far as practicality for this type of education goes, I wonder how you can get around the country to the seminars like Wimsatt discusses and also be able to pay for your next meal. Practically speaking, through grants or loans you can be a full time student at an institution of higher learning and manage Maslows hierarchy, but can you finance your way across the country living in different cities every year without a full time job? There aren't many banks that would finance that type of education.

I enjoyed reading this article so much that I shared it with my students at RRCC. Of course, the discussion was lengthy and very informative from my point of view. Some thought this was the answer to all of their questions about life, and others were somewhat reserved about the idea. I asked the students to get into groups and pose questions or concerns they had regarding this type of education. Every group came up with the same question "How many CEO's would hire someone with a degree from the University of Planet Earth?"

My point exactly!

-- Anonymous, December 07, 1998

Moderation questions? read the FAQ