Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Odyssey Project

Here's an example of true radical pedagogy: a slate of college-level humanities courses (for college credit), offered for free to low-income persons:

The class enrolls 25 to 30 students, recruited from the Champaign-Urbana community and surrounding areas. Prospective students must meet the following criteria: they must live at 150% of the poverty level or lower, be 17 years of age or older, be able to read an English-language newspaper, and, in interviews with the project coordinator, demonstrate a desire to complete the course...

The course is offered free of charge; there is no tuition fee, and books, transportation vouchers, and child care (at the Douglass Community Center, adjacent to the library) will be made available to all students. Students who complete the course will be eligible for six hours of college credit from Bard College; these general humanities credits are transferable to other two- or four-year colleges.
Wow! Talk about inspiring! Talk about turning the "college as corporate supermarket" model on its head!

I've done something similar to this, teaching participatory music skills at a free, weekly 2-hour session, since about 1992, but I never thought anybody would be able to talk upper-administration into granting credit. Talk about getting the wheels turning...

Prediction: those students who stick with the course will be some of the most responsive (and responsible) students thos faculty have ever faced.

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