The Sphere Program
There is a large population of people who are not a good fit for the current model of higher education: people with meager financial means, veterans, artists, career changers, and other talented people who simply want to learn. These people would benefit from a program that seeks to help each student identify what he or she is passionate about—what they most want to accomplish in life—and helps them gain the skills they need in order to achieve this. The Sphere Program is intended to accomplish exactly that.
The Sphere Program proceeds in three phases. In Phase One, entitled “Self and Other”, students embark upon a journey to acquire a deeper understanding of self, and to develop their understanding of how differently people think and how similarly people think: to discover what motivates the beliefs and actions of humanity. This will be accomplished primarily through reading, discussing and writing about great works of literature and philosophy and their relationship to both contemporary issues and the students’ own experiences. It will also involve further activities in the arts, sciences and humanities. In this phase students will seek to identify the direction of their future studies. Phase Two, “Tool Acquisition”, involves the acquisition of interdisciplinary knowledge and skills that support and implement the student’s goals. In phase Three, “Action”, students will draw upon their continually-developing knowledge to put their passion into action by taking on a project that is a good fit for the student.
The activities of the phases may overlap; for example, students may very well take on individual projects in phases one and two, continue the process of self-discovery in phases two and three, and engage in the acquisition of specific knowledge and skills in phases one and three. Movement between phases, however, will be determined by the student’s ability to demonstrate that he/she is prepared to move to the next phase. The student will employ the following questions in making this determination:
Phase 1 to 2: Do I know enough about myself and what I wish to accomplish to enable me to construct an individualized curriculum?
Phase 2 to 3: Have I gathered the necessary interdisciplinary tools to be successful with a project, and do I know what that project will be?
Phase 3 to Graduation: Have I successfully completed my project?
Specific aspects of the Program will change according to the changing social and cultural environment in which the Program is being implemented.
Copyright 2009 Richard Liston