Sunday, May 6, 2012

Transformation of the Thesis

I began my research with the intentions of exhibiting the benefits of alternative education, just with Naropa in mind. I planned on focusing on all types of school which differs from the traditional 4-year model, including technical colleges. I decided to focus instead solely on the spiritual aspect of some universities, deciding to use Naropa as my main focus. Slowly, the positive light with which I was trying to depict Naropa in became impossible to present, as more and more negative factors began to show. I then shifted my focus from praising Naropa itself, to pointing out its flaws in the context of privatization, and the fact that despite its Buddhist roots, it is a business after all. By looking at other for- profit universities, as well as schools with spiritually inclined curriculum, it became evident that the education at Naropa is not worth the price paid. Because of the imbalance between the cost and quality of education, Naropa is no different than any overpriced online chain school, in that it observes the needs of its students, and capitalizes on them, in this case those needs are spiritual ones.

Monday, March 26, 2012


My case is that including alternative approaches in education is beneficial to the student. This can range from the inclusion of small concepts, to the attendance of a completely alternative school or university. My focus is on the Buddhist university, Naropa, in Boulder, CO. This university is the home of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets, and was home to a large portion of the beat poets of the twentieth century. It's historical roots and modern educational methods provide a unique educational system which is conducive to the development of the self as opposed to the implantation of an already finished produce: text book knowledge, as mentioned and analyzed in John Dewey's Experience and Education.

Book Review #3- Experience and Education

I had a big problem finding a book that went against what I am trying to argue. Nearly everything I found was arguing the same thing that I am, that integrating alternative components of education is beneficial to the student. I was able to find some sources that analyzed both traditional and nontraditional means of education, and highlighted the pros and cons of both. I am currently waiting for the book that I found to come from Rutgers Camden.

In Experience and Education, John Dewey focuses on the shortcomings of both alternative and traditional types of education. His insights are useful to me in my analysis of the benefits of alternative universities such as Naropa, as I can analyze his reasons for the insufficiency of alternative medicine by measuring them against the truths about traditional school.

Dewey, John. Experience and Education. London: Collier-MacMillan, 1969. Print.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We should be avoiding these headaches, no matter the age...

Although this image is a simple one, it speaks volumes for the modern education system in the United States. If a child is portrayed as overwhelmed and stressed with stacks of work to accomplish, then the work gradient from child to adult must be exponential. I aim to explore childhood alternatives this problem, and to examine ways in which these patterns can be avoided all the way through graduate school through alternative modes of study.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beats at Naropa: an anthology

This book, as indicated, is an anthology of writing by the beat poets of the 1960s and 1970s who attended and were involved at Colorado's Buddhist university, Naropa. It traces the historical involvement of the writers and university, and compares their work among one another, in the context of the setting of Naropa. What was then the Naropa Institute, now features a school within itself named "The Jack Kerouac Institute of Disembodied Poets", as a tribute to his involvement at the University. The book mentions other institutions, such as the Zen Center in San Francisco, but focuses on Naropa as the central institute of learning and creating among the culturally valuable beat poets of the US.

              "Allen also went on to describe the subtler definitions of the term, including beatitude, beatific, the hipster perspective of everything being exhausted, which had also Buddhist connotation,  the framing of the historical period, and then the broader view of resonance and association of a range of people, including editors, filmmakers, musicians, and several generations of writers, activists, thinkers, and what we call at Naropa, the "outrider" tradition." (14)

This passage of the introduction gives the reader an initial glimpse at the original student body of Naropa, and its cultural relevance at the time that it was started. Allen Ginsberg's description is in reference to the "beat" culture and what it represented, something which was key in the development of the Naropa curriculum and its educational importance. 

              Allen and I declared in our “mission statement” on the founding of The Kerouac School in 1974: Though” not all the poetry teachers are Buddhist, nor is it required of the teachers and students in this secular school to follow any specific meditative path, it is the happy accident of this century’s poetic history- especially since Gertrude Stein- that the quality of mind and mindfulness probed by Buddhist practice is similar to the probes and practices of poetry. There being no party line but mindfulness of thought and language itself, no conflict need arise between religion and poetry, and the marriage of two disciplines at Naropa is expected to flourish during the next hundred years.”(165)

This quotation supplements the previous one in terms of cultural relevance, and speculation towards future relevance. By examining the intentions for the Kerouac school and its Buddhist involvement, the entire mission statement of Naropa can be analyzed. Is it more effective? For poetry it is, but what about for other disciplines? 

                   In 1948, in an auditory hallucination of William Blake, Ginsberg had experienced the voice of the poet as a time machine. But we don’t have to hallucinate to get on the time machine. There’s this window of time that opened here at Naropa, and was captured in the archive. We’re only three decades old as an institution, but our archive holds the voices of people who were borth at the start of the last century, and it has their students and their students’ students, and twenty five minutes from now, it has you. And it will have your students too, if we get it right. This is our community of memory.(215)

The description of Naropa as a "community of memory" is what separates it from other schools and universitys. Its rich history coupled with its unique religious and integrative curriculum sets it apart from other educational institutions and something more substantial and truly educational, not just for the mind and for the professions, but for the development of the spiritual, cultural, and mental self as well.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Alternative Education for the 21st Century

Woods, Glenys, and Philip Woods, eds. Alternative Education for the 21st Century : Philosophies, Approaches, Visions . New York: Basingtoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.

This book focuses on a wide range of alternative philosophies and schools based on these philosophies and cultures.From Quaker, Buddhist, and Islamic schools, to education in Canada and Palestine, Alternative Education for the 21st Century gives the resources to find ways to incorporate holistic spirituality and democracy into education. This book gives insight into the options that students and educators possess in a shrinking educational climate, at least in the traditional sense. By introducing less common means of acquiring and fostering knowledge, Philip and Glenys woods present the opportunity to involve something more meaningful into a system which is becoming dull, undesirable, and ineffective. 

Authors Philip and Glenys Woods are a married couple who focus on spirituality and enlightenment. Philip is a professor, a sociologist, and an "educationalist", and Glenys is an "educational researcher, with a holistic approach to learning, and a healer, priestess and lightworker" and focuses on spritual development and alternative forms of education.

As this is a collection of essays, I would like to look at individual chapters of the book that will be most suited for my research subject. The book focuses on education as a whole, and I feel that examining elementary and secondary education is crucial in the study of college education.

Chapter Selections:

The K20 Model for Systemic Educational Change and Sustainability: Addressing Social Justice in Rural Schools and Implications for Educators in All Contexts
O'Hair, Williams, Wilson, Applegate

This chapter presents the common education system in a light which is faulty in the context of rural America. In response, it proposes and examines a 20 grade model in which educators abandon the K-12 Model and refer to education as a Kindergarten to Graduate School process. This model was developed by the K20 Center of University of Oklahoma, in order to benefit students in rural education systems.

"To date, the K20 center has impacted more than 500 schools, mainly rural, and more than 90,000 students. It helps reduce the inequitable conditions of professional, cultural, and social isolation and the lack of professional development in rural schools." (17)

A Buddhist Approach to Alternative Schooling: The Dharma School, Brighton, UK Clive Erricker

I will be using this chapter in conjunction with my analysis of Naropa University in CO, which is a Buddhist University. I feel that spiritual education is a beneficial experience, and plan to exhibit this through the analysis of The Dharma School as an introduction to Naropa.

"The vision behind the type of education that this conference and its report wished to promote is well expressed in the following extract:
Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. however, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness (Carrey 1992) "

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blog post 6

The research question that I am asking is as follows: Are 4 year colleges and universities truly the education end-all be-all? How do alternate universities such as religious institutions, liberal programs, community college, and technical programs compare to a traditional college education? What are the benefits of these alternative programs, and what can we do to encourage their attendance and accessibility?


Coburn, Thomas. "Secularism & Spirituality in Today's Academy: A Heuristic Model." Liberal Education 91.3   (summer/ fall 2005): 58-61. Print.

McDonnell, Tim. "The Nonconformist Class." Sierra 96.5 (Sept/Oct 2011): 36. Print.

Olsen, Lynette. "Aztec Middle College: High School Alternatives in Community Colleges " Community College Journal of Research and Practice 34.8 (Aug 2010): 662. Print.

Woods, Glenys, and Philip Woods, eds. Alternative Education for the 21st Century : Philosophies, Approaches, Visions . New York: Basingtoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.

Coburn and McDonnell examine universities which use a hands on approach to education through spirituality and connectedness with the earth and other students. Olsen discusses the possibilities of integrating high school and community college, and its benefits for minorities and underprivileged students.