autonomous accredition

by noah

Wednesday night I took the opportunity to sit in on an incredibly intimate discussion titled “An Autonomous Alternative Accreditation Agency” led by a young Syracuse professor Thomas Gokey. The general idea of accreditation being restricted to universities is a myth so rarely questioned with such constructive criticism, and the two hours spent on our hands and knees scrubbing towards a collective yellow brick road was oh so satisfying. Before recapping the discussion it should briefly be said that developing an autonomous accreditation system is, simply said, dreaming up how to integrate a formalized education with the practice of everyday life. It is a move towards understanding academics as life and life as academics, making clear that our knowledge is extended into all that we do. Majorly, this move also invalidates the role of high tuition universities and allows for education to reflect classic equality. It is not the hope to see these institutions shut down, but rather become a democratic force than a job coupled with debt machine. Since 1978 tuition in America has raised 900% as universities have adapted into the role of banks, and if we do not collectively conceptualize a new form of education then tomorrow we won’t be able to afford the time we wasted today.

In introducing his own reimagination Thomas shared how Mozilla has embraced a network of merit badges [more info] among software developers. These merit badges can be collected from anywhere on the internet to share a history of what one knows and has achieved, adding a little prestige to one’s digital endeavors depending on the reputations of their parenting firm. Now what if we applied a similar model to our physical communities? In a reputation economy no two badges are created equal, and badges are assessed in a network of trust and reputation. Achieving badges is comparable to building a portfolio, and this portfolio of scholarship will eventually become a degree. For the remainder of the discussion we shared ideas concerning free schools and ivy league community colleges, and we eventually shared #occupytogether stories. The occupation in Los Angeles launched a free school this week, curated by Antioch’s Urban Sustainability Program and faculty of UCLA. When asking students in NYC if they have even been able to visit our #occupywallst there are frequently “no’s” excusing the experience with either school or work to pay for school when this is a moment in history affecting the way the symbolic order of the everyday is acknowledged.

A theme I’ve taken to this is a notion of time and control. What is the necessity for stabilization, homogenization through fundamentals, and the breaking of the individual spirit? Education is a pursuit of knowledge and a self-discovery in comprehensiveness, of practice, and of understanding. Let’s reflect that appropriately.

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