Sunday, November 20, 2005


Alma mentor

Insolublog has an interesting critique of the modern university here. His criticism resonates with my blogging about seeking a college for my son Max. The basic point is to somehow inject mentorship back into the college or university experience:

Not everyone is a natural teacher, but there are many with natural gifts for creative building and innovation. Charlie was that rare blend of natural teacher and renegade technologist. He got all of that power from his own study and family dynamics. Apprenticeship is a old, tried and true concept, preceding all of the modern institutions of learning. Can this old concept be reinvigorated in our time, for more than the traditional electrical, plumbing and legacy trades?

Perhaps attempting to tap this mentor to apprentice communication will destroy it. Small team chemistry is meant to be small. Maybe it is best left alone.

Interestingly, large universities have this kind of chemistry. It's called graduate school, but unfortunately that kind of small-team chemistry is almost impossible on a large campus given the pressures toward funded research. Some smaller liberal arts colleges with 1200-2000 students have found this small-group chemistry, and that is why about half of the schools on Max's final list are of that type.

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