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Uncollege is a concept developed by Dale Stephens, one of 20 recipients of Peter Thiel's "Thiel Fellowship" award, that paid students to drop out of college and pursue their life's passion (his is researching and promoting alternatives to college.) Check it out -- they recently added forums. I'm still trying to pull the pieces of something together that can get this topic more broadly discussed.

TEDxSF - Dale Stephens & Michael Ellsberg - Debating Higher Education

UnCollege Movement Challenges Students To Forget School!/news/local/UnCollege-Movement-Challenges-Students-To-Forget-School/135486268

RE: -- a discussion of alternatives to college - Miller0700 - 04-02-2012 06:34 AM


RE: -- a discussion of alternatives to college - The - 04-02-2012 06:35 AM

I will check it out

RE: -- a discussion of alternatives to college - Eidolon - 04-02-2012 06:53 AM

I wish I had something to say that hasn't been said a million times on these forums already. We all know that college isn't the only way to be happy.

The "resources" page is particularly interesting, though I'm afraid it will fall into the same category as all the other learning-related links in my bookmarks menu. "I'll get to it later." It's too easy to just surf the web or play video games. I just have very little motivation for doing important things, which I know is really bad, but I always seem to forget when I hop on the computer.

Maybe some of the other posters here on SS could find some use in the letter to parents:

Anyway, good to see you again, xcriteria. I'm curious about what's going on with Sympadia; can you tell us about that? Status? Plans?

RE: -- a discussion of alternatives to college - Efs - 04-02-2012 11:53 AM

They have some great resources (links) on the site that you guys should check out.

RE: -- a discussion of alternatives to college - xcriteria - 04-08-2012 05:55 AM

(04-02-2012 06:53 AM)Eidolon Wrote:  I wish I had something to say that hasn't been said a million times on these forums already. We all know that college isn't the only way to be happy.

The "resources" page is particularly interesting, though I'm afraid it will fall into the same category as all the other learning-related links in my bookmarks menu. "I'll get to it later." It's too easy to just surf the web or play video games. I just have very little motivation for doing important things, which I know is really bad, but I always seem to forget when I hop on the computer.

Maybe some of the other posters here on SS could find some use in the letter to parents:

Anyway, good to see you again, xcriteria. I'm curious about what's going on with Sympadia; can you tell us about that? Status? Plans?

Good question... it's a long story. I've been trying to figure out how translate it into a shared, interactive story that advances the discussion and breaks through the same old patterns of "what can you do?" since last summer, but profoundly torn as to how to proceed with both the company and my life ending up in a complete financial and interpersonal mess. I've sought for over a decade to find a path in life where I can address helping people learn and find the tools to make sense of who they are and find a non-mundane path in life. But too often I've faced the same problems Eidolon cited: motivational problems, lack of an engaging learning process, and only sporadic progress toward getting anywhere. The pressure brought on by this project blowing up put me in a situation of digging back through my life, everything I've written, dumping out the contents of my mind onto paper -- and then layouts of books and papers -- and then photographs of those layouts, and then layouts made of screen captures. And, a number of awkward emails to both the school and people I knew, attempting to stimulate communication about a situation more complicated than anyone wanted to see it as.

The student information system project itself was plagued by poor communication, not enough money, everyone with different expectations, and two of us stuck with a project bigger than we could handle that wrecked a friendship (along with my limitations as a software developer.) It's a case study in a project disaster, with me in debt and left holding the ball in a number of respects.

During this project I saw students getting poor grades, with behavioral problems, clearly bored, and being encouraged to pursue college even though that's not an automatic ticket to life. As the child of intellectuals and multiple-time college dropout, I knew that at least for some people, the whole process needs to be re-examined, including from the perspectives of interpersonal neurobiology & neuroplasticity (as Daniel Siegel and others discuss), temperament, interaction design, and positive psychology. As an INTJ, having grown up seeing the brokenness of the school-to-college pipeline from "within the ivory tower" since I was 14, thinking in terms of the big picture to the extent I could get my mind to function, and finding more and more credentialed people discussing a need for change, I found myself at a loss in explaining what I intuitively saw.

What did come out of it was the recovery of many bits of my past and the integration of fragmented parts of my psyche, and the development of active cognitive function that I've long struggled to achieve. I've developed methods for coping with extreme uncertainty and having to deal with being seen as there being something wrong with me for facing extreme conflict over how to proceed and being determined to translate all this into a story and materials that can be of use to others -- including some kind of video-based series.

"I wish I had something to say that hasn't been said a million times on these forums already." -> exactly. I've been called a broken record more times than I can count. I want to connect up the kind of discussions that occur here with the conversations I see happening elsewhere, including Ken Robinson's discussions of learning. A big part of the challenge is finding a way to be paid to be what you are. I'm trying to figure out a youtube presence as part of my path forward. I've recorded hundreds of hours of video of me talking through my situation, I've collected many key points of reference, but I need help making something that's really engaging.

Part of this whole saga is that my dad is a cultural anthropologist, yet we were all born into a culture that's in a rather chaotic state. I'm hoping to engage him in an on-camera dialogue where I can challenge him on his over-simplistic advice, including when I was 14 and since, to "get by and do the minimum" -- rather than finding a way to live life to the fullest, whatever that might mean. Anthropologist Michael Wesch has some excellent talks that address disengaged students, and he says, "a good question is something that leads people on a quest" -- and this is true of game design as well as the idea of life as an interactive story.

Part of the challenge of life in today's age is digging through all the information that's out there and finding the significant elements. It's easy to surf, but I've been engaged in an effort to pick out what's essential, especially to the extent it can be applied to life as an ongoing decision stream that one can become more conscious of. Massive amounts of money are spent on education, books, learning, psychological problems, and entertainment... and there are better ways to address these problems than many people are aware of.

I've received so many comments from people in my life that imply that life is suffering, most people is miserable, but to the extent that's true, I ask: "why?" is one example of refuting that perspective. Yet, many people are in rough situations. More can be done to help people confront their challenges and potential. Kio Stark raised $38,000 for her book "Don't Go Back to School: A handbook for learning anything" There's even a new "freenium" online university, with most of classes free and tuition quite affordable -- though I'd prefer a different structure to learning material.

I've put some videos on youtube, though they are rough vlogs... and I've started using twitter to begin networking --!/DoctorofDegrees not sure where all this will go, but I'm looking to develop this into a more user-friendly stream of videos and lectures and/or book, possibly called "Botched Education Nightmares" that addresses the search of myself and others to make sense of life and learn effectively, and get a discussion going that isn't just the same patterns being repeated.

My Playlist: Advice Management -- some points of reference

Even within school, tools like Khan Academy and Youtube Edu open up new possibilities, but a discussion needs to happen about how individual students (in or out of school) can address their situations. Part of what's needed, on all sides, is people learning to understand the perspectives of each other.


RE: -- a discussion of alternatives to college - xcriteria - 04-10-2012 01:01 AM

Here's a followup... one of the questions is... "what really is important?" and "important to whom?"

At many points in my life, I've only been able to find motivated engagement in video games... despite being interested in something more. A key thing a game, or engaging story/film/show/situation provides, is a "motivational context" -- even school provides this to some extent, but it's usually not based on things relevant to life... what it takes is passion, or "flow"...

I like this quote from Peter Thiel: "“I think we need both more optimism and more pessimism. We need pessimism that things can go wrong, so you need to be scared that things could be worse, and you need more optimism that things could be better and that the future could be a lot better. And, if you have neither optimism nor pessimism, and you think things are just going to be the same, and nothing is ever going to change, there is much less point in acting. So I think we need to do everything we can do to tell more of an optimistic and more of a pessimistic story at the same time. It’s a little bit inconsistent, but I think that’s a critical thing to motivating things and that’s certainly critical on the health side -- individually, and society-wide.” (Singularity Summit, 2011)

Richard Saul Wurman - On Passion
"At 45 years of age, I had nothing. I was literally destitute. Except, I still had curiosity, I wanted to do good work, and I had ambition, which I don't have now... I had ambition to do good work. To work at doing good work..." (Wurman coined the term 'information architecture' & founded the TED (technology, entertainment, design) conferences.)

TEDxKC - Michael Wesch - From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able
"A good question is something that leads people on a quest... and if you pay attention to the questions that students are asking in this [college] environment, they turn out to be questions like 'how many points is this worth?' 'what do you we need to know for the test?' -- and it's not like this group is lazy and disengaged [see American Idol auditions [or video games]]... so, something's gone wrong here..."

The Writer's Journey and Mythic Structure with Christopher Vogler
"How this all began, was on a quest, really, that I was on as a young person. I'm a farm boy from Missouri, and I had no real film background, but I was fascinated. The movies caused me to vibrate to certain energies that I found there, and I found them really exciting and wanted to be part of it, but I didn't know what those unwritten rules were, about storytelling. I knew there had to be something. So, on my quest, I ended up at USC at the film school there, and I encountered a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and there it was, the answer to what I was looking for -- the unwritten rules, the sort of super-outline that all stories appear to be connected by. And, my self-assigned job was to translate Campbell's academic language, his mythological examples into modern examples from classic movies and current films, and turn that into a kind of a report on what I had discovered. And, that eventually grew into The Writer's Journey, because I discovered the same things I was going through as a writer were being experienced by the heroes in the great adventures. So, the adventure is also going on for the writer, as well as the hero. This broke down in Campbell's work, which I borrowed from heavily, into 12 stages, that I seem to find in almost every story I've worked with. And, these are: The Ordinary World, in which the hero is discovered in his or her ordinary environment, maybe a comfortable place for them, but something's there, a seed of change for what has to be. There will be a Call to Adventure where the hero is told there's something they have to do, they have to undertake some challenge. The usually respond with Refusal of the Call, they don't want to go into the adventure for one reason or another. That's overcome by meeting with some sort of mentor who guides them and gives them the Magical Equipment they'll need, and that allows them to Cross the First Threshold into this new world -- special world where most stories take place. There, they will meet tests and allies and enemies that will train them, and prepare them, they might go through a stage of approach as they prepare to enter the inner most cave that's at the center of every story. In that cave, they'll have an Ordeal, stage eight, where they'll be facing their greatest fears, and they'll be transformed by that terrible ordeal. Then, there's a period of reward, where they get a sort of the payoff for having faced their fears, then there's a stage called The Road Back, where they turn around and begin to complete the adventure, and commit to finishing it with some new twists. And then, next to last stage is the resurrection where the hero will, once again, be challenged once more on all the levels, and also transformed by that, redeemed, and resurrected, and finally, Return with the Elixir, where the hero will return to the ordinary world..."

I've looked at a number of points in my life for parallels to that hero's journey concept... but it's often seemed to fall flat. Lately I've found more meaning in it, even though though I think the concept of "hero" is a little cliche'd -- been using as a point of reference for making sense of scenes and interactions in my life and that I see going on in the world. One of the most important concepts is that of -- the concept that in life, as in stories based on it, one can grow, become something greater, become more one's self -- and that's part of what happiness or fulfillment takes, even though it can be a convoluted path.

Too often people fall prey to seeing life as suffering, or mundane, or get absorbed in cynicism. I've had to dig through so much absorbed cynicism from other people... and of my own making... yet being excessively "idealistic" can also be a challenge. is an interesting way to think about that. Even on different days or at different times, there are different ways to look at things.

One of the biggest challenges is how to organize information and knowledge and prompts in a way that encourages going beyond existing memes and conversations. As Michael Wesch puts it, "media mediate conversations -- when the media change, the conversations change" -- this is also true of the way people conceptualize situations and life in general... and by thinking of life itself as open to multiple paths forward, and as consisting of more than dystopia, it can start to become a lot more interesting. The question is how to package that up like game designers do.

RE: -- a discussion of alternatives to college - xcriteria - 05-07-2012 03:28 AM

More pieces of the puzzle...

TEDxWallStreet - Michelle Rhee - Public Education - Are We Under, Over or Just Misspending?

Learning Analytics: Lots of Education Data... Now What?