How I Wanted to be Educated
While I enjoyed many of my educational experiences up to the day I left school for work, there was much of it that I found annoying and a profound waste of time. During my High School years, I thought about this a great deal; wondered why the education process was the way it was and slowly formulated a plan of how I thought a school should be run. I had a chance, in 1956, to present this concept at a conference of educators in San Francisco [link: the student environment]. It intrigued them - I could tell - however, it clearly did not match with their paradigm. There was no way they could fit what I was saying into the structure that they considered to be education. At this time I was just staring my work in architecture with the plan to go to the Architecture School at University of California, Beckley the following year. Why I did not do this is highly relevant to what follows; the full story is told at the link below below.
The story of Welton Beckett, the Tower and the Professor is one where circumstances conspired to push me down a path different than the one I had planned. In June of 1956 [link: the promise - 1956] I finally accomplished my goal of several years to find work in an architect’s office - in this case the San Francisco office of Welton Beckett and Associates. Instead of finding the world of philosopher designers that I had envisioned, I found a world of frustrated, angry and prematurely burn-out, bitter professionals who had come to the point of open hostility to any notion of ARCHITECTURE as a noble and life-giving art [link: what is architecture]. It was a shocking experience.
I was, even at the young age of 17, used to being considered out of the main stream of the 1950s “Pleasantville” paradigm; however, the full scale assault that I was to endure in this environment lives with me even to this day. It was not that my ideals or specific ideas were attacked - I could have understood this and I was prepared to stand for by point of view and also learn ways to improve my ideas. It was that very fact that I had them that was the basis of their condemnation. We never discussed the issues of architecture, it was always an attack on the idea that any of it mattered.
In this period of recoil, I designed my first major work. It was an exercise that I gave myself one day walking in the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the question I asked was: “why put a park in a city?” ”Why not put a city in a park?” The project [link: vertical housing project] was aired on Public television [link: what is this?] and I was naive enough to believe that this thesis would earn my way into the community of the drafting room - of course the very opposite was true. I realized, then, that what I was facing was not rational criticism but hatred aimed not at me but at the idea of architecture as a sacred trust. I knew nothing, of course, of the gentle art of easing innovation into a culture, I was blunt to a fault and the battle lines became drawn. It was along road from this place to the the idea of successful collaboration without compromise.
The TV show did provoke a fair amount of positive response and one of these was from a professor of architecture at Beckley - it was this that really did me in. The professor turned out to be at once over effusive in his compliments, pandering in his attitude and, at the same time, aggressive in his excuses for why nothing like this work would ever be possible - I have forgotten his name but I will never forget his soul [link: the professor] .
The sum of these experiences, so different than the world I grew up in, convinced me that I would not subject myself to whatever it was that had so profoundly crippled these young-in-years but so aged-in-heart architects. They were educated - “lead out to” - this condition. I was repulsed. This was and remains a basic contrast between two world views. At that time, to me, a vast dilemma that offered no mediation. I was to realize, many years later, that humankind was on the cusp [link: rebuilding the future] of having to decide what kind of a world we were to have - to this day, at this moment, we stand at the fork in the road. The power of gods [link: the monkey’s paw] with the mentality of a child distracted by all the toys in the marketplace with no awareness of the consequences [link: a future by design not default] of their making or use. Humankind is yet to decide if we will have a future let alone what kind it will be.
I made up my mind that I would not abandon a positive view of the world - and of human potential - that I would never succumb to this destruction; I decided I would find the means to rid our species from the chains they had imposed on their own soul and mind - from the limits that had become accepted as given, as law. I determined that I would return the practice of life as art [link: to hold an unchanging youth] - as quest [link: the art of quest] - to the realm of the practical. This became my mission [link: mg taylor mission]. No matter what mistakes I have made, the times I became lost and confused, I never have given up this desire [link: what do you want - 1858] - and I never will [link: confessions of an unrepentant idealist - 2000].
It was not until I met Gail, nearly 20 years later, that I worked with someone, educated in education, who had drawn similar conclusions and had put them into action both in her teaching and with the creation of the Learning Exchange [link: the learning exchange kansas city].
With the creation of MG Taylor, we formalized each of our individual past work into a System and Method that treated the educational and creative processes as essentially the same process. For a quarter of a century, we have applied this method in a wide variety of settings and applications from grade school through university levels. Given the experiences we have had by doing this, our convictions, strong in the beginning, are even more so today.
We believe the educational process is:
First off, a natural and easy process for nearly everyone. It is our society’s present approach that has made it expensive, difficult, political and, now, increasingly irrelevant to the future requirements of our citizens.
That while it is possible to bring system and method - and measurable results - to education, every individual is unique and has their own learning and creative style. The method has to employ these unique attributes as an asset not something to be ignored and “rolled over.”
The purpose of education is not to prepare someone to get a job or prepare them to fit some social norm; the purpose is to prepare and facilitate them reaching their full human potential - profitable creative work and social contributions are the natural consequences of education - not the goal.
Knowledge is not passed on from one person to another - the learner is not a vessel that wisdom is poured into; the true process of education is such that the learner is stimulated to, themselves, build a new construct in their own body/mind. As the learner advances in their learning skills, their awareness of how they do this increases and they progressively take control of their own process of education - a condition necessary for maturity to be reached. An individual learning how they learn and create - and how to do both in the world they live in - is the core achievement of an environment and system of education.
While learning and creativity are unique to each individual, GroupGenius® is real and the experience and practice of it is not in conflict with the demands of individual learning and creativity. In fact, both learning and creating are intensely social enterprises where all build on the work of each other. Although individuals have their own style of learning and creating that never should be violated, a properly designed and facilitated group process stimulates GroupGenius to emerge. This establishes a learning environment of another order which encompasses all styles. This experience greatly accelerates productivity and compresses time. The character, quality and magnitude of the result is increased. So is, often, the pleasure of the experience.
Since late 2004, a number of educators, who have been thinking and working along similar paths have found their way to us and us to them. It seems that the old education paradigm - so strong and tenacious - is shifting; as Heinlein says “when its time to railroad, people build railroads.” Our work with these educators is prompting the creation of several NavCenters in support of their work - an unprecedented leap in the number and scope of NavCenters dedicated to learning that spans all stages of life. In addition to this, there are several Community NavCenters trying to spring to life. “Trying” is the sense that money always seems to be the issue with community projects - one wonders why.
There are four core models that provide the basis for our approach to education:
The 5 Es of Education Model outlines the modes that both teacher and student have to bring together, simultaneously, in order to create a genuine learning experience. The weight between these five, may be different in any circumstance yet all must be present. This model is of an emergent process, iterative and recursive through many cycles of experience.
The Teaching Modalities (or Administrative Method) Model describes five components of a life-long, institutionalized education delivery system: self-paced, computer aided learning, human mentoring by subject experts with peer dialog, connection to the work experience - all integrated by a NavCenter.
The Recreation Process Model outlines four critical transformations as an idea progresses from abstraction to material manifestation; it stresses that the idea must be recreated each time it moves from the form of mind to media to artifact to to built lived experience. It then, of course, starts the journey over. High frequency, low magnitude cycling is best.
The Five Points of Mastery Model identifies that to sustain the path of learning the explorer must seek and ultimately obtain competency and ultimately the mastery of the steward, facilitator/guide, advocate, learner and expert - learning, teaching and creative, collaborative work are the same thing; the skill of one requires the other and all must be practiced to master.
These Models cover a range of key aspects of the education and recreation processes. The 5Es set the conditions necessary for learning for both teacher and student working separately or together. The Teaching Modalities Model describes a systematic system for individual learning, peer group leaning and work as an integrated lifelong experience. The 4 Step ReCreation Process Model show the transitions as idea becomes reality. Learning and creativity are essentially the same processes. Learning is creativity aimed inward at self development. Creativity is learning aimed outward at making something - self expression. Both are transformational - they require recreation. Notice that what we call today, recreation - which is often aggressively mindless - is a distortion of the true meaning of the word. The Five Points of Mastery Model expresses two important aspects of learning: that the teacher and the student are both learner and teacher, respectively, and that they have to accomplish competency in all five mastery roles in order to become a true lifelong learner.
My childhood learning experiences were unusual and varied. The most valuable of these were not in a formal schooling situation [link: inventing a machine] which was a mix of extraordinarily good experiences and some rather bad ones which provided to be a valuable instruction in their own way [link: that does not look like...].

For further comments on my educational experiences, go to:


The Education of a Heretic

I do not think I am a heretic yet the orthodoxy in several professions tends to think I am. A set of circumstances and subsequent experiences set me off in a direction from which there was no recovery. Be this good or bad in an open question yet to be answered. Click on the graphic to see how it all began...


Although, I was luck enough to have some unusual and valuable opportunities that were far from average then - even today - I do not believe my education was that much different that what many experience - it was not designed to meet my requirements it was designed to fit the social model of the time. I rebelled against this with results that were largely beneficial and some that were not. Many are not so fortunate. We are not educating knowledge workers for a 21st Century reality which includes a high prospect of the singularity happening in their lifetime [link: a future by design not default]. This is a silent tragedy in the making.

Return to INDEX
GoTo: The Promise - 1956
Return To The Second Decade
GoTo: iteration6
School of the Future - Today
GoTo The Student Environment

SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted July 3, 2005

Revised: March 10, 2008
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note: this document is about 230% finished

Copyright® Matt Taylor 2005, 2006, 2008


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