The Skeleton Key is in the Syllabus

So here’s the deal.

When I made the decision to leave my doctoral program, that did not mean I was going to cease doing intellectual work.  What it meant was, having realized that the academy was in no way the place that I wanted to do my research and intellectual work, that I needed to find a new way of doing things.

That meant engaging my intellectual work with my drawings and paintings, that meant increased collaboration and communication with my own, real, community (not the fabrication of community that I found in the academy).  And it meant becoming self-motivated and self-taught.

So, this is what I’m thinking.

It is often remarked by graduate students, at least in my experience, that the bulk of the professor’s academic contribution is actually in the form of the syllabi they formulate for their classes.  Which books to read, how to read them, in which ways to engage with or exercise skills originating from the texts.

And that got me thinking… I have made syllabi before, whether for the class that I taught as a teaching assistant at UCLA and as a self-employed tutor for varying levels of math.  If I could do that for classes I taught to others, I certainly could do it.

In a nutshell then, this is my project:

  1. Create a syllabus structured from books, essays, films, music, etc. that I’ve either already bought, or that is readily available from the library or other free sources.
  2. Give myself assignments that I will work on and publish to this blog (using the teaching helps you learn idea), and
  3. Ultimately use these syllabi to achieve some end goal, whether it is to learn a new skill, write and publish some form of completed work, or further my success on a particular research project.

The syllabi will be available for free here, and my “assignments (reviews, summaries, etc.)” will have plug-ins and links to resources where I can put them in.

Education is and will always be important, but I have come to understand that it does not need to originate from traditional – expensive, exclusive, elitist – sources just because those sources have glossy exteriors and high tuition fees.  Traditional institutions very often hoard knowledge in libraries inaccessible to the public, and in lectures formulated only for those who have “paid in”.

But I think, and I will make it my life’s work to demonstrate, that it can be so much more than that.  Lemme not get ahead of myself though.  Baby steps.

First, let’s get that syllabus poppin.

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