I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance. –e.e. cummings
How many times have you been sitting in class, trying to listen to the professor’s lecture but actually stressing about the homework you need to do later, the test you need to study for, or the report you have yet to write? By the time I leave class, I am overwhelmed with the pressure of the next five hours—the death-defying trudge through trenches of the busy work and the little assignments that bury us alive. So wait, what did he say? What was today’s class topic? I’m pretty sure I had an interesting thought about that but it was quickly suppressed by the drone of homework. A bit dramatic? Of course. But the point is there. When did my education become more about completing work for grades than exploring the depth of the world’s unanswered questions? I would rather sit in class with the freedom to dive into global issues for the sake of debate, research for the sheer joy of knowledge, and ask my peers questions out of pure curiosity! I want to marvel at my studies without thinking twice about my GPA’s trajectory. I want to be motivated by more than the letter grade. I am looking for an institution that views my willingness to ponder and reflect not as laziness, but as profound exploration. I am looking for open education.
Learning for the sake of learning. What a concept!
Of course, our society’s system is not conducive to this notion. How would employers eliminate candidates’ applications without a GPA cut off? How would we compare intelligence? Would we need to consider more than the number? What would the world do without grades? Honestly, I’m not sure it could handle it. However, I believe taking a page out of Brown University’s curriculum requirements is a step in the right direction. In their open curriculum system, students have much more freedom to choose classes based on their likes and interests rather than required to take certain core classes. While there are ‘concentration requirements’, students are less constricted and instead presented with opportunity.
Less structure. More open exploration.
A Brown student emphatically states: “Because we don’t have general ed requirements and have flexible concentration requirements, I am able to take the classes that most interest me. The workload sometimes doesn’t seem like work because I choose what classes I like.”
What if every student had the opportunity to experience this academic freedom? To return to the core of what education is: the love of learning. I want to fall in love with my studies and my University should want me to (should beg me to), as well.
Set my brain free and watch it fly.