Thursday, 24 November 2011

Independent Scholarship

As the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design is self-directed, as an educational experience its similar to post-graduate education (although apparently its considered to be about an 'A Level' qualification). The handful of tutorials included in the cost are less contact time than the average masters degree, and the task of getting educated is largely left up to you in terms of both form and content, with the accreditation criteria a framework goal.

Some voices would like to pattern permaculture education into a more recognised tertiary education format, indeed this is something of what Gaia University has done, by creating degree programmes for eco-social education. I'm not so sure about the value of doing that however, especially in the more mundane context of meshing with the UK HE sector.

Free Thinking not Fee Thinking

With a bachelors degree and two masters behind me, I increasingly question exactly what is going on in universities, what value they provide and at what cost. Cost is obviously increasingly an issue in the UK, as tuition fees rise and government support retreats. Universities are cutting departments, students are getting into debt and as paying customers rightly demanding a different experience base don their actual needs. I doubt whether universities can ever meet some of those needs any more. The financial and resources crunch has implications for education as it does for everything else. Paying thousands of pounds for a course taught at some institution far from home for years as a prelude to a working life characterised by the need to pay that money back is going to be a less and less viable path of education.

The recognition of this is rising, with anarchist free schools making welcome reappearances, skill-shares and skill-swaps occurring elsewhere, the University Project, open source education, commentary from Kio Stark, James Marcus Bach (see videos below) etc.

There's a long history of independent scholarship of course, and a great resource to check out is Ronald Gross's work, especially his The Independent Scholar's Handbook, which is downloadable legitimately and for free from here, but would be worth paying for just for the bibliography.

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