The Guild of Exception

square-50cm-spacer.jpg some working notes for a HE framework by John Wood
square-50cm-spacer.jpg see also our introductory essay Art School Futures
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Our Vision

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  • Team-oriented, creative, adaptive learning resources, tailored to the needs of each learner.
  • A Higher Education system that sustains itself financially, yet is free at the point of learning.
  • A world that values the unique and the special, rather than adhering to arbitrary standards.
  • A life-long learning framework designed to make the planet wiser, safer and more hospitable.

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Everything Must Change?

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  • Warnings about climate change and biodiversity losses suggest that we need lifestyles and habits to change.
  • Mainstream politicians seem to be in denial. They focus on short-term issues at the expense of the big ones.
  • It looks like grassroots activists and thinkers will be the ones to steer societies towards a paradigm change.

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Why Exceptions?

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  • Modern science searches for evidence of dependable laws and principles that make the Universe predictable.
  • This is useful, but we need to combine this approach with new ecological, political, economic & lifestyle visions.
  • However, exceptions can become more important when we see events within the full complexity of their context.
  • Attuning oneself to exceptions, rather than rules, helps us to notice rare phenomena and/or hidden opportunities.

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The Whole Person

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  • We aim to offer a comprehensive agenda that seeks to reconcile different modes of learning (see above).
  • We aim to reconcile analytical, critical & evaluative thinking with creative, emotional & practical experience.
  • Although this is inspired by art school methodologies we will use it across disciplines including STEM subjects.
  • Humour helps us to embrace differences, inconsistencies and ambiguities that may reveal hidden opportunities.

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Book-Based Reasoning

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  • Our universities evolved from scholastic traditions in which literacy & numeracy are pre-requisites to learning.
  • They created head-oriented pedagogies that tend to underestimate the intuitive & embodied basis of knowing.
  • Moreover, learning is usually constrained within subject-based silos and disciplinary conventions.

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  • We will encourage learning-with, learning-for and other auto-didactic approaches.
  • Each individual manages their own progress via our Integrated Relational Learning Framework.
  • This unique 4D system was trialled in a Russell Group university and adopted in several countries.
  • It enables us to prioritise open-ended and playful learning at the pace of the learner's curiosity and ambition.
  • It encourages individuals to identify and share the different curiosities, creativities and neurodiversities of the group.

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Team Learning

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  • Specialisation has led to the quantifying of standards rather than creating and exploring new synergies.
  • By identifying synergy as an asset in its own right we are therefore more likely to value the extraordinary.
  • Unit-based money obeys the logic of mining, therefore we expect everything to add up to 100%.
  • However, when we work with synergies, an output will always be more than 100% of the inputs.
  • Activities will therefore be ad hoc & opportunity-led, rather than driven by pre-determined curricula.

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An Exceptional Funding Model

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  • We aim to make learning free for selected school leavers and mature applicants.
  • Our students will be invited to enter into an entirely voluntary, lifetime, pay-it-forward agreement.

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Normal Economics

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  • Education systems responded to the rise of neo-liberal economic values by becoming more elitist and bureaucratic.
  • Governments focus our attention onto league tables, business plans, pay grades, targets and algorithms.
  • When this happens, grades, 'fairness' and 'value for money' become more important than 'wisdom'.

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Action Plan

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  • Our first pilot programme will run at a venue in South East London - ...see more
  • We will start this at a grass roots level - thanks to our volunteers - ...see more
  • Please send your comments and suggestions to John Wood at maxrippleatgmail.com.

(also see our metadesign manifesto, our research and our recent book).
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Inspirational Organisations

  1. The Ruskin Mill Trust offers workshops for young people around the Morecambe and Lancaster area.
  2. Escape 2 Make works for young people (also in Morecambe and Lancaster).