Decentralized User-Generated Cellular Education
July 8, 2009 8:39 AM   Subscribe

"The Public School is a school with no curriculum. At the moment, it operates as follows: first, classes are proposed by the public (I want to learn this or I want to teach this); then, people have the opportunity to sign up for the classes (I also want to learn that); finally, when enough people have expressed interest, the school finds a teacher and offers the class to those who signed up." A project of Telic Arts Exchange.
posted by Miko (21 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Seems like that's not a "Public School" so much as a "Learning Annex."
posted by Sys Rq at 8:46 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

What a great idea. But you have to be in the area to use it.

How about a social networking site that pairs students with mentors? Mentors advertise the things they can teach, students advertise the things they want to learn. Pairings are made. Both students and mentors can get rated ("student wasn't serious", "mentor didn't really know what he was talking about", etc) to build up reps. For some topics or students/mentors, location may still be important and that could be specified. But for others it isn't.
posted by DU at 8:53 AM on July 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

This is pretty cool. The one thing I'd add is a "propose an instructor" feature. There are a lot of people out there I'd love to take a class from regardless of the subject matter.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:58 AM on July 8, 2009

Maybe we're really starting to see some substantial change in the way the education system works. It's long over-due.
posted by No Robots at 9:17 AM on July 8, 2009

I wish there was something like this in Chicago. I suppose someone with more ambition could start it up :)

DU, there are a few sites online that do something similar to what you are describing - I don't know about the rating instructors and students function. Might be something for MeFi Projects...
posted by baxter_ilion at 9:18 AM on July 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

That's cool. You know its probably not that hard to set up something like this wherever you are.

Where I live we have the Ithaca Freeskool
posted by Gregamell at 9:26 AM on July 8, 2009


This was, in part, how my primary high school got started back during the mid-'70s. It was built around credits called Community Resources, which were an outgrowth of a class called Earthworks, a big multi-disciplinary soup. CRs basically had the kid figure out what part of the state requirements they wanted to learn about, then find someone in the community that was willing to mentor them on it, then get it approved by the school for that requirement. Over time, the school drifted into more traditional pedagogical modes, with actual classes etc., with CRs being deprecated, but there were always some kids doing totally sweet shit (I took one on East Asian Films for a social studies credit), and there were always some kids abusing the system (a guy named Ben was a hero in the school because he managed to get gym credit for "personal relaxation techniques," where he documented his sleeping patterns).

I think I may try to teach a class on pinhole photography at the LA one.
posted by klangklangston at 9:28 AM on July 8, 2009

DU: there's also the School of Everything. It's based in the UK but I think teachers/students can be international too.
posted by freya_lamb at 9:31 AM on July 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

My local equivalent: Experimental College of the Twin Cities. I think the name was cribbed from something similar at Oberlin. Maybe the idea too? Lots of Obies seem to end up in the Cities.
posted by clavicle at 9:36 AM on July 8, 2009

The purpose of a Fucked Up Drawing Party is to get fucked up (i.e. intoxicated) and draw things that are fucked up (i.e. disturbing). What constitutes a Fucked Up Drawing is different for everyone.

Ah yes, I certainly see accreditation in your near future.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:41 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I wish there was something like this in Chicago.

Look at the pull-down menu in the upper right-hand corner. Cities listed: Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and "...coming..."
posted by ericb at 9:43 AM on July 8, 2009

Chicago's The Public School website.
posted by ericb at 9:44 AM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is awesome. I went to the New School at Dawson College in Montreal for two years and a lot of our learning was like this. My college transcript says I took a lot of courses in English and Sociology, but has no relation to what I actually learned.

Every semester the professors would post on the community bulletin board the topics they knew enough about to teach, and a time when interested students could meet to negotiate a course. You mostly got out of it what you put into it - a class full of slackers who want to talk about video games was not the place to request a sociological approach to online gaming communities - but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
posted by deadtrouble at 10:22 AM on July 8, 2009

So it's kind of like Wikipedia, only instead of being able to correct and amend the contributions of other nonexperts, you're graded on your ability to agree with them?
posted by ardgedee at 11:13 AM on July 8, 2009

i'm pretty sure new orleans is working on setting one up. don't have access to my home computer right now or i'd dig up the name & info.
posted by msconduct at 12:41 PM on July 8, 2009

Maybe the Chicago Public School will offer a class on paying attention ;)
posted by baxter_ilion at 2:45 PM on July 8, 2009

hmmm ... looks like i was wrong about new orleans attempting its own public school. what is in the works, methinks, is a variation on the street university theme.
posted by msconduct at 4:30 PM on July 8, 2009

Maybe we're really starting to see some substantial change in the way the education system works. It's long over-due.

First course on offer: Misuse of the Hyphen in the Internet Age: A Failure of Education?

posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:58 PM on July 8, 2009

It's a nice idea, to be sure, but I did go to a school where you did (or didn't do) whatever you felt like, and I'm still thick as fuck.
posted by pompomtom at 10:58 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

This reminds me a bit of now-defunct New College of California. Having dropped out of NYU, exasperated and disappointed by the undergraduate mill, I finished my BA two years later at this little school run out of an old mortuary in San Francisco's Mission District. The head of my program was Harry Britt, the successor and protege of Harvey Milk. The teachers were from Berkeley or were practicing artists. The students were all ages, some had three kids, one was an elderly former Black Panther. We talked about everything. We read difficult shit. We studied everything from Kant to New Urbanism to printmaking. I wrote a thesis on Russian poetry in the 1930s. I loved my teachers and my classmates. My advisor was a frail Beat poet. The school was an administrative disaster - it lost its accreditation for 'gross mismanagement of everything,' possible embezzlement of financial aid, and it took me over a year to get my degree mailed to me after I graduated (they kept forgetting I had certain credits). But who gives a shit? It was the best education I could have asked for, and my transcript bears no relation whatsoever to reality. Then again, what transcript does?
posted by bukharin at 3:52 AM on July 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

DU: That's what SuperCool School was set up to do.
posted by divabat at 6:22 AM on July 10, 2009

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