School is not synonymous with learning.
Most learning that we do happens outside of the classroom, in real life situations with real consequences and rewards.
Given that most of us still spend nearly two decades of our lives in schools, what would our ideal classroom environment look like?
Below is a sample of what a RizeU college syllabus would look like, with a focus on learning and being independent (both of which are essential in life), rather than on compliance with arbitrary rules.
(1) The class would be limited to no more than around 30 students, to allow for it to be discussion-based, as lectures are not conducive to real learning. The world has evolved, yet the structure of the modern classroom still looks the same as it did in the 19th century.
(2) There would NOT be a midterm or final exam that requires a wordy essay of a minimum of x number of pages, since brevity is so greatly lacking in this world.
(3) Students would have opportunities to speak to their classmates and present their views and reasoning, but with an upper-bound time limit. And if you’re terrible you get voted down, so you get used to nothing getting handed to you in life. You don’t get a trophy for participation. Grab and hold attention, and communicate effectively.
(4) Information sources that are not typically encouraged in academia would be fair game: blogs, Wikipedia, YouTube, Quora, etc. Textbooks are one of the worst ways to learn things and are not always written by the top subject matter experts.
(5) The instructor would provide the framework for learning but much of the momentum would be driven by the students. There’s no step-by-step guide to life, so better get used to it now.
(6) Food and drinks would be allowed. We understand you might have had a busy day and weren’t able to squeeze in a meal. Life doesn’t stop happening just because you’re in class.
(7) Attendance would not be taken. If you are not willing to contribute positively, we’d rather you not be there. You are free to do better things with your time as you see fit.
(8) The grading system would be decided on by the students as a collective. Some percentage (not sure how much yet) of them would have to agree for the system to be ratified. This would teach them to collaborate, communicate, and negotiate.
If you are a college professor or administrator reading this, feel free to pilot this and watch your ratings on RateMyProfessor.com skyrocket. You’re welcome.