Imagine a course without instruction. Four students with an idea of an idea, and a set of credits at the end.
We’re now two-ish months into this experiment, more independent than most independent studies and I’m still not sure what to make of it.
This past week was a week of reclamation, returning from the structureless anxiety that was two weeks ago. We’ve finalized the process and the project. And there was a time I wasn’t sure we’d get back something solid.
At the moment, I’m fascinated by that anxiety that we wouldn’t even finish – that everything would just sort of… collapse. Because that’s not an anxiety present (often) in courses. There’s a clear product described in the syllabus – a clear outcome that each individual student will have ready and complete.
In a course, we worship this clarity – to trick and to game. To figure out what the professor wants – what least amount of effort will hit the right preferences the grader could imagine. And so the work loses much of its honesty, trapped in the efficiency of a time-strung student.
But its different in our world, where it isn’t about the grade – but about a product that a team will find worthwhile. If you fail it isn’t a shoulder-shrug and a “well its all my fault anyways” sort of ordeal, but an accountability between friends. The personal and the performative overlap.
This layer of accountability without the clarity of the assignment produce a doubling affect on anxiety. Failure is a real and tangible thing because it layers onto real and tangible relationships. The whole course is a dreaded group project.
What could be more real world than that though? An education that teaches you to cope with this set of worries and accountabilities. Failure isn’t the option when you’d drag a collective down with you. You can’t call in sick to class when you’re hungover.