Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Student centered

Our course on the history and significance of the spiritual adventure of The New School began today, with a bang! We're committed to a course which celebrates "learning by doing" so we had students help draft a mission statement for the school (we're, um, between mission statements at the moment!). What they came up with is quite inspiring. A community of forward- and free-thinking artists and academics from all backgrounds and ages, attentive to the contemporary moment and with a broad view of what it means to be successful, empowering students to take responsibility for their own education through heavily interactive class structures where all meet as equals.

Good stuff! There is one striking gap, though. Well, not that striking, since I needed my co-teacher J to notice it! There is no mention of faculty. (The parenthetical insertion at lower right was made by me.) Which, J suggested, is just as it should be - and just as the founders wished, in their protest against universities of the day, which offered obsolete and reactionary knowledge chosen by faded professors, philistine trustees and progress-fearing alumni.

If "spiritual adventure" seems overweening language to you, it's not mine. Consider this, the last paragraph of the 1918 "Proposal for an Independent School for Social Science" - our founding document! - which we offered the students as fodder for their mission statementing.

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