Friday, December 10, 2010

Everlasting University...Who Needs Gobstoppers?

My current facebook status is this:
Does anyone know if (and where) there is a "school" where people can just take classes and learn for fun and personal interest rather than for a degree or career sake? If not, who wants to start one with me?

I have serious doubts as to the existance of such a place, but oh, how I dream of it! This idea is just beginning to mill about in my brain, but I think it would be such a fun invention. A "university" of sorts where folks could enroll in a class or two for a nominal fee simply for the sake of learning. Perhaps local professors could share an hour out of their week (again, for a nomimal fee) and lecture and lead discussions about ideas, histories, philosophies, sciences, arts, etc.
Or perhaps, blast the thought of it, in this computer savvy world, with the genius of Skype and whatnot, there could be virtual classrooms completing the tasks mentioned above.

Say I'd like to take a class in Russian Literature? Click! Enroll! From 3-4pm CST Professor Plum lectures on the likes of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.
Perhaps a course in art history to brush up on theories and style? Oh, I know all sorts of folks to teach this one (Ms. Gilkerson, I'm looking at you)
How fascinating the human body is! Perhaps you'd like to enroll in the physiology course taught by Dr. Bod MD. It's Saturday mornings 9-10am.

An on-going university simply alive for the purpose of learning?Yes. Yes please.

There was a point in time when individuals coveted knowledge simply for the sake of knowledge. It seems now that in many cases, universitities have gone from haven of learning to graduated techincal schools.
(Two side notes-1. This is not true in every case. I was fortunate to have gone to a university in which both discussions and ideas were valued. 2. I in no way wish to demean technical schools. Those who emerge from them are far better equipped to do the necessary tasks that life demands, which I am far incapable of doing. And quite frankly, in today's society, tech schools are most likely the most logical and economical choice for making a living in the real world.)
Universities, it would seem, have become gradiose, expensive trade schools. Learning for the sake of learning has all but disappeard. (From my life, anyway. This could all be stemming from no longer being in university, but rather drudging through the mindnumbing "real world.") And yes, I realize with the internet at my fingertips and google providing me every tidbit of information I could ever desire, this is not what I am after. Real people discussing real ideas face to face (even if it is face to computer screen face)...that is the creme de la creme.
But, I can't go to university forever. Not in the way that it's set up now anyhow. I'm already up to my ears in student loans. I don't want to bury my children in them. It always boils down to money, doesn't it? When declaring a major in college, the million dollar question is "What can you do with that?" (At least for those of us who chose the less practical fields of study.) Translation: What kind of job can you get/How much money will you make? When did it happen that anything worth a damn has to have a price tag affixed to it? I can't get degrees in history, philosophy, art, physics, biology, etc simply because I'm interested in them. My children's children to the 28th degree would bear the weight with tuitions what they are these days.

I need a place where I can sit and absorb and discuss ideas, both new and old and learn and wonder how this world works.

So, this everlasting university thing is probably just another hairbrained idea stirring from my cranial mush as a result of 8hrs of mindless and mindnumbing "work," and will most like result in nothing. But, it's a fun idea. So, if you agree...if you're in....when do we start? And how the hell do we get something like this off the ground?

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