Brain Canvas

Reach inside your brain and pull out something Beautiful.

Brain Canvas University – Go Brainiacs!!

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I recently saw the film Accepted. Its more or less your standard young adult male comedy (think any movie starring Ryan Reynolds, which this one some what shockingly does not). The protagonist Bartleby Gaines is the unlucky high school slacker who manages to get rejected from every university he applies to, including The Ohio State University if memory serves (I just like how they put the emphasis on the all the time. I’m a badger myself). Instead of disappointing his over zealous parents he decides to create a fake school, the South Harmon Institute of Technology. After writing himself a fake acceptance letter from South Harmon, Bartleby goes as far as creating a fake website, leasing an abandoned mental institution to serve as the campus and recruiting Lewis Black to act as the dean in an increasingly elaborate plot to fool his parents. The ruse predictably grows beyond his control as hundreds of fellow rejects apply to South Harmon and arrive on the first day of class expecting a real university. Rather than admit defeat, Bartleby and his gang of friends keep up the illusion to its bitter end, wherein the jealous ex-boyfriend of Bartleby’s new girl exposes the fraudulent university to the parents of all the students in an act of revenge. In the end, Bartleby is able to demonstrate to the state board of education that his ragtag, student taught classes merit accreditation, allowing South Harmon Institute of Technology to remain open. And of course he gets the girl. This movie would by no means be worthy of mention even here on the humble Brain Canvas blog were it not for the radical approach to higher education that it suggests. While the university system in the US is, supposedly, the envy of the world, my experience in it was not without its critiques. Too often the system discourages innovative and original thinking, rewarding those most able to repackage the ideas of those who came before them. It certainly teaches valuable skills for the life beyond college, but actual knowledge is often rather useless except to those few who aspire to spend their careers digging themselves ever deeper into an isolated hole of academia. In other words, professors. At the end of the day, the system is extremely adept at entrenching the ideas (and authority) of the status quo. Don’t get me wrong – it is without a doubt far better to have gone through this system than to not have, even for those of us who don’t intend to spend the rest of lives in the classroom. But Accepted, despite the puerile hijinks and token black guys, is in its own way unbelievably subversive to this status quo because of the one, simple question it dares to ask: What if universities taught students things they actually wanted to learn? On that note, check out my schedule for the fall semester at Brain Canvas University: The History of Water In this class we examine the history of our most precious natural resource, from pre-history to the modern era, from Kathmandu to Kansas City. We also examine the future state of this resource in our modern world. Students are expected to have formulated a concept and business plan to positively impact water conservation by the end of the semester. Debate Each week a different student will be responsible for posing a question to his or her peers for debate. Moderated discussion will ensue for the remainder of class time. Cooking with Rosemary Rosemary is undoubtedly one of the most delicious herbs known to man. This semester we will learn how to harness this little wonder to its fullest potential. Recipes will include grilled pork loin with mango-rosemary chutney, cheddar bacon rosemary bread, and the divine orange rosemary cheesecake. Biography The biography is a historical reference of particular usefulness, giving us insight into the minute experiences that shaped great historical figures into the people the ultimately became. In addition to reading select biographies, each student will be expected to complete their own auto-biography by the end of the semester. Students are free to use whatever medium they choose to complete their biography (writing, photography, video, twitter updates, etc.) Welcome to Brain Canvas U, Class of the Future. What are you taking this semester?
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Written by Andrew

July 31st, 2009 at 1:36 am

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