What is this place? [FAQ series: Campus]

Um, awesome. But not yet real.

Here’s what we want to do: Maximize intelligence through a culture of freedom.

If you’re not already, first go get on our level about what intelligence really is. Classrooms just aren’t designed to foster most intelligences. And while a good number of good people are trying to redesign classrooms and fit new ideas into them…

We’re over here like, …classrooms? There’s just no need to stay inside that box. To maximize our cultivation of all potential human intelligence, we need to be responsive to all manifestations of it. So here’s how we plan to do that.

Plan A: We get sufficient startup funding and secure property to transform into a brilliantly robust learning community.

School Grounds | We’ll need some serious acreage to develop our model vision. Our estimated cost benefit analysis supports some exciting elements. We want renewable energy sources (probably solar), bees, fairly extensive edible and nonedible gardens, a (perhaps relocated and restored) barn, a substantial greenhouse, a professional kitchen, an advanced technical and security infrastructure, tech studios, an art studio, a photography studio, a recording studio, an extensive hodgepodge of instruments and books (along with unlimited Kindle downloads), athletic facilities in various forms, an indoor theater and outdoor pavilion both also to serve as general assembly areas with flexible seating arrangements (open, audience seating, tabled seating in various forms). We’ll design for flexibility throughout the school grounds to accommodate a diversity of potential purposes.

Learners | Students won’t be the only ones learning around these parts. First, some of the above facilities will require committed attention. With students free to make any commitments they choose, we will retain residents (adult staff members) with learning objectives that ensure our campus development.

Speaking of campus development, once school starts, it’s in the hands of the School Meeting. Each student will have a standing personal budget and full discretion over spending. Yup. That’s a whole lot of responsibility being cultivated right there. And when those funds are insufficient to cover students’ learning ventures, they can make investment proposals to the School Meeting, either at a regularly scheduled quarterly budget allocation meeting or at a special budget meeting convened for time-sensitive proposals.

If a resident has an idea for an initiative, he or she will engage the same process. Those that are new to the process will learn by watching experienced students and residents make their funding appeals to the School Meeting. We’ll make our cases using things like: potential ROI for the school with a return-sharing structure considering risk; our OKR records; our personal budget management records; potential for humanitarian good; and likely an array of brilliant strategies students will conceive.

Community | Since we’ll have curricula tailored to each individual student, we can’t count on too much predictability. So residents won’t always (or often) have the relevant expertise to respond to any given inquiry of curiosity. Instead, our residential role will be to guide the student to and through the relevant resources. We can only begin to conceive the forms of said resources. It may be a YouTube tutorial. It may be any number of online learning resources. And it just might be a real, live, local human.

As we develop our relationships with potential community learning partners, we might identify particular value in inviting that potential partner to our campus. And we have a process for that: an approval process. And true to our democratic form, it’ll go down at the School Meeting. Any given community partner, or the student or resident liaison of said partner will make the case at a quarterly or specially convened approval meeting. They’ll petition and negotiate for any level of access they wish. Like, if Larry Page or Sergey Brin, or Ken Robinson or Richard Branson, or Daniel Pink, agree to a visit, I’ll be in front of the Meeting begging for free access. But not everyone is a Google co-founder, or a creativity knight or space travel pioneer, or otherwise really rad innovator. So maybe someone else gets approved for a couple hours to give a lecture. Or a series of lectures, with some buffer time thereafter to hang on our campus and enlighten us through casual conversations. Or maybe a community member just wants to rent out our sweet barn for their wedding on a Saturday. Maybe we do that.

We trust our Meetings will prove collectively rational enough. But we also expect mistakes. And we expect to learn from mistakes. But no collective decision will conscript students’ freedom to take their learning venture off campus. (Good waves today, Finley? Go. Learn about physics and ecology and the universe, kid. We’ll have some vans.)

Plan B: We don’t get sufficient startup funds and have more of a nomad thing going on for our brilliantly robust learners.

Grounds | We’ll find some places to convene. Libraries, bandstands, nature. Come on kids, school is just one big field trip. We’ll still need a van.

Learners | Rather than fancy-sounding residents, we’ll have a cooperative rotation of parents. We’ll engage the same voting process for expenditures, just on a smaller scale.

Community | We’ll be out in it every day. Same approval process for any community member who wants to hang or hitch a ride in our van.

Plan B lends itself to transition into Plan A. We’ll adapt, restrategize, persist, and get to Plan A eventually. It’s really all just Plan A.

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