What methods of teaching will be employed?
There are various themes in pedagogy that cater to different types of learner so classes should do their best to reflect these types in the classroom.
There should be a division between lectures and seminars/lab work, or theory and practice/debate. This means information is distributed en mass initally and the discussed in smaller groups for clarification.
As stated earlier (e8) students who are proficient in a topic, mitosis for example, should be able to help assist teaching those of a lower level covering that subject. By explaining a topic one comes to understand it better.
Each high level student will have a mentor he can refer or defer to in times of need and have dialogues with. A mentor must be at least a number of grades above the student.
E-learning will be progressively worked on as will videos created to explain all topics in the subject, complete with questions to assess comprehension and open questions that students might consider writing experiments for, contemplate on or engage in dialogue about.
New methodologies of teaching should constantly be assessed and debated. Also all new members should have some exposure to teaching seminars and lectures [not just participating].
[Note: In the years since I’ve written this the rise of MOOC’s and available resources for learning everything from code to languages has exploded across the internet, in this case these give the community nearly all the material required to created an extremely nuanced hierarchy of grades without lifting a finger. However, all free open projects should be given as much support as possible via the community to continually help and improve their services. I know these initial thoughts were written on buses and trains around town, each one of them could be the basis of whole books in themselves, however the good news is there is a huge wellspring of available resources now to help any community member learn an incredible amount even if they are the first in the community to express an interest in the field.]
What types of research will the community endorse?
As long as the research does not go against the ethical oath [e57] of the community it should be allowed. Initially there will be limitations of scale and time constraints, represented disciplines e.t.c. But personal research should be given as much autonomy as possible. When it comes to resource usage, available equipment or problems of costs, there must be a meeting with the head of the relevant departments to request a loan, grant or new equipment. A project requirements document is needed [e62]. Conversely while projects can be endorsed that tackle similar subjects there is a focus on collaboration, so having 3 people doing the same thing seems like a waste. There should be a clear database of projects that are currently in progress to avoid such problems (or at least a list of projects internal to the country not including others).
[note: Massive projects and subjects require hundreds of concurrent teams collaborating, projects can also be approached from a number of novel angles. We could take cancer cure research or A.I as two examples where there are a vast variety of methods being applied to try and discover the best way to solve the problem. Similarly pure research into subjects such as climate change have thousands of teams researching a whole host of elements, while two teams doing precisely the same thing is not useful (unless of course there are multiple teams working on replicating research for peer review) there are a number of reasons that multiple avenues of research may run in parallel.
The database of current projects though is a great idea, more than this a list of potential project or research ideas could be added to the list allowing people to browse research that is considered open for review or investigation.]
What standards will be applied to differentiate a novice from an expert? The present undergraduate, graduate, master, Professor / Doctor system is ultimately misleading. When someone claims “I am a Dr” you must then ask “of what?”, biology, philosophy, humanities etc. being a professor doesn’t suddenly give you a status to talk on every subject. Consider the martial arts and their more gradual system of grading; starting at the basic level and progressing to 1st Dan (the black belt) which, contrary to popular belief, is the where the basic level of training ends and you start to master your skills in earnest.
The difference in professional Go players is also worth noting, it is measured in a similar system from the lowest Kyu grade to the highest Dan grade, however, an even more interesting in this system is the concept that each grade difference between players is considered an extra stone handicap to the weaker player so that they can play a master on an equal footing.
All these systems correctly understand that there is a continuum of ability at knowledge at work here. You start at nothing and then progress over a lifetime to mastery, where systems differ is in how to measure how far along the continuum you have progressed so others can gauge your skill/knowledge/ability/suitability. As things stand standardized tests like GCSE’s, BAC SATs or A-Levels are created to give us a grade of our ability in each subject.
However, many people question how accurate this methodology is and whether it misrepresents or marginalizes students, it certainly only measures academic ability and knowledge, not practical application or personal experience. A much larger range of levels must be devised for the community that reflects the levels of knowledge, experience and usage of a subject, so the level will be a blend of a number of factors. This will be extensively investigated in a future entry.
So I have a test in 13 days for my French. Which has put me immediately into panic mode. I think perhaps I should have skipped this one as my level isn’t to a standard where I can truly benefit from the grade I’ll receive.
However, it’s a good exercise in desperation. If I can revise an hour every week day evening (including tonight) and 2 or 3 hours every weekend that will give me around 17-20 hours of preparation time. Also I’d expect with that much work to substantially improve my French.
As part of that exercise I’m going to write a paragraph each day into my Blog. If you’re French or you speak better French than I do, which isn’t too difficult, please correct me. I’ll owe you one!
This amount of study on top of work and projects I am in the middle of will probably be a challenge but I’m actually really looking forward to setting myself something difficult. Here’s to me getting a B1 level in two weeks time!
Oh on that note I thought I’d mention some good websites I have found for studying French
- A fun site where you listen to music in French, Spanish, German etc. Then you have to fill in the blanks appearing in the subtitles as you listen to the song. Very good for improving your listening skills
- A new site and a new way of learning a language certainly has my vote as a novel method learning. Check out the review on The Economic Times.
- Far from perfect but with lots of good repetitive exercises that clearly reinforce your ability to remember conjugations and vocabulary. Well worth the very small charge for a subscription (also available in Spanish, German etc).
What balance of time will there be between duties, research, training and leisure?
It should be as much as possible a balance between work and pleasure with exercise simply being considered as part of a daily routine. Regular sabbaticals and times of relaxation and mindfulness should punctuate the working day, week and year and these should be considered as mandatory as physical exercise.
Consistent over-workers should be closely observed to ensure they aren’t destroying themselves out of some perceived obligation; However, some people are workaholics and passionate about what they do, as long as it isn’t detrimental to their performance and health making people relax should be seen as a guideline not an enforcible standard. Work can remain a static amount but shifted between personal research, training and duties.
Study time should also be factored in outside of normal working hours. Regularly, say, every 2 years, members should take at least a month long holiday travelling and absorbing other cultures. Or a quiet retreat to friends and family, a long sojourn in a private retreat. The vacation or retreat would be subsidized by the community and the only rule is that the holiday must recorded and a journal be written of things learnt, This will then be placed into the communities library / wiki / openstreetmap e.t.c. Every map and experience will in this way help add to the whole.