[iDC] alternative models for education?

Stian Håklev shaklev at gmail.com
Tue Jun 15 19:21:26 UTC 2010

Re: the role of courses

I still think there is a value to a small group of individuals coming
together over a limited period of time to discuss something in depth.
Whether online or offline. Like a reading circle for a book - it's nice to
randomly discuss books you have read with people you meet, but it's also
nice to have a group of people that have all committed to reading a chapter
by a certain time, and meeting up. However this is far from the only model
for how education can or should work.

As for university, it might be worth looking at Sweden, where they only
study one subject at a time in university. There is no concept of majors,
etc, rather to get a degree you have to study at least a certain number of
different courses (breadth) (each course = half a year full time) and taken
a certain number of courses in one topic (so that you reach a certain depth,
and don't just do all the introductory courses). I never finished my degree
in Sweden, but when I signed up, I applied for half a year of Chinese (not
to be generally enrolled as a student, but just to do that specific thing).

After I had done that half year, the university sent a letter saying "would
you like to keep studying? if so, what?". I signed up for the second half
year of Chinese, and studied that. I could then go to another university in
Sweden, if I wanted, and do anthropology. Previous studies are transferred
time for time, and since you are studying something very different from
scratch, there is much less problems about the same subject being taught in
a different way, etc. At the end, you can graduate from any university, as
long as you fulfill the two requirements (breadth and depth) mentioned
above, and you have certain total number of courses, and you spent at least
one year at that university.

Anyway, not saying that's the future in any way, but I think whenever we get
too focused on the five courses per term credit system in North America, and
it's nice to get perspectives from other places. The nice thing about it is
that after half a year of philosophy, you actually have people who have a
real appreciation of the history of the subject, and are able to do an 8
hour written exam that is not asking you to check little ovals about when
Plato was born, but actually asks challenging long essay questions.


http://reganmian.net/blog -- Random Stuff that Matters
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