Whew! What a wonderful, exhausting, exhilarating and rewarding week. Sphere College effectively began on Monday, April 20 as small groups of potential students (co-learners*) and other interested parties came together at various times and in different venues. Everyone had an opportunity to learn more about the current status of the College and to get all their questions answered before deciding whether to sign up. And sign up they did. We even started reading Gilgamesh together!
The eleven students who have signed learning agreements thus far will bring a very broad range of life experience and world view to the discussions. More students may also join over the next day or so, further enhancing the mix.
My primary responsibility from here on out is to act as caretaker** of the project, a responsibility I look forward to with a mixture of excitement, trepidation, wonder, and probably some indescribable mixture of feelings that have been experienced by all those who have ventured before into unknown territory. I imagine the students will also experience this—maybe some have already begun to experience. And I applaud them for taking this first step with me. This is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I hope to prove myself to be a worthy caretaker, and that my co-learners will be forgiving along the way.
Once I have the signed applications and learning agreements from as many people as I believe are planning to join the first group, my next task is to schedule the class(es). It is highly unlikely that all members of the first group will be able to be scheduled at the same time, so they will probably have to split into two groups. Perhaps smaller groups would be good in the beginning anyway, although it would be nice if all the students could learn from each other. Tradeoffs—always tradeoffs.
At this point I should probably think of some cogent remark to give the College a nice sendoff. I can come up with nothing better than “Let the fun begin!”
* Still looking for a good word to describe those of us—”students” and “teachers”—who will be part of the College curriculum. A pre-existing word would be fine, but somehow I suspect there’s no word in our language that captures the expectation that the teachers will be no different than the students in many ways. The teachers will learn as much as the students—perhaps more—and the students will teach the teachers as well as each other. Maybe I just can’t think of the right word, but it seems as though the lack of such a word in our language would speak volumes on our assumptions concerning the nature of learning.
** Thanks go to Joe Laskowski, one of the students, for suggesting the word “caretaker”.