'Utopia', literally 'no place' in Ancient Greek, commonly suggests a perfect zenith. Generations of risk-takers and thinkers, intrigued by the hardship in achieving perfection, have attempted to establish their own utopias with countless philosophical ideas. As idealistic as I may be as a high school student who is inspired by them, I have secretly accepted a 'daring mission' of creating (okay, I mean, 'imagining') an educational utopia, also known as 'Edutopia'. Of course, I will just be offering some personal perspectives that are largely based form my visits to thirteen universities and liberal art colleges in the United States. As my appetite for finding more about education grows, I reflected more about education based on a series of research. Let me share them with you.
First of all, it appears essential to address a concern - why, in the name of sanity, do we devote our time studying? Is it completely illogical that the more we learn, the more we tend to forget, and thus the less we remember and the less productive we are in learning?
Since ancient times, education has been viewed as a route to improving our social status. As Plato pointed out in his hypothetically utopian 'Republic', education determines one's future. Indeed, not only can education empower and inspire individuals, it also propels universal advancements holistically. Applying a range of approaches to learning enables us to satisfy our natural curiosity and to pursue happiness, liberty and greater equality. It may sound rather similar (or exactly identical) to the purposes of the United States Constitution, which illustrates the importance of education in forming a better world. Nevertheless, these objectives demand effective responses to the myriad of clashes, which are so prevalent in designing an ideal educational system that I can name seven of them right off the top of my head: global and local, universal and individual, traditional and modern, long-term and short-term, spiritual and material, competition and egalitarianism, expansion of knowledge and our capacity to acquire.
Edutopia in my mind attempts to resolve these tensions in education by establishing a brand-new curriculum that reflects the basic characteristics of liberal education as we know it. Distributional requirements stand between the strict guidelines of core requirements and the ambitiously broad open-curriculum, offering both breadth and depth that serve to highlight individuality in today's international world.
Welcome to Edutopia, where utopianism becomes reality. Students here enjoy small-sized classes, freedom to choose between homo and heterogeneous groupings, balanced hard work and happy play, privilege to be funded for their independent researches and even for inviting faculties members to dine with them (of course, apart from enjoying international cuisines, their main purpose here is to discuss academic topics). As you can see, Edutopia offers great flexibility - in fact, both faculty and students choose to work or study abroad at some point to become world citizens. The foreign language requirement further empowers learners to easily approach varied cultures. Everywhere, on campus, you can see bright shining eyes that belong to curious, open-minded communicators, risk-takers, and innovators. Oftentimes, some of the seminars and discussions are unstoppable - our only measure is to ring the nerd-bell at 2 a.m. Jingle bell, jingle bell, when the nerd-bell rings, we hear sighs. Are they signs of disgrace or pride? Is staying up late to fulfill their curious selves a fault or a virtue?
Separated into three key stages that resemble the IB (International Baccalaureate) PYP (Primary Years Programme), MYP (Middle Years Programme) and DP, the curriculum at Edutopia assists in forming individual beliefs, widening interests, moulding personal styles, voices and identities, and encouraging innovation. Key subjects available here include mathematics, the natural sciences, the social sciences, the Arts and a wide variety of languages for both native and non-native learners. Whether one is intrigued by Economics, Theatre Art, Philosophy, Psychology, Law or Creative Writing, he or she can always spot like-minded individuals both in and out of the classrooms.
Should a student wish to extend academic interests into the optional Stage II, he or she may participate in more intensive programs that involve more accessible resources, residential programs with dining choices, majors and minors. Another widely-accepted option is home-schooling which offers more individual attention under a general curriculum. Further, lifelong learning resources such as complimentary access to libraries and public lectures additionally fulfill long-term purposes of education.
By blending traditional and modern, global and local views, Edutopia offers individualized approaches to reflect on past and current events that influence our societies, and to innovate scientific, technological and socio-political measures in shaping and leading a more ideal environment for all.