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Renaissance University:

        The School of Education


Photography courtesy of Elan Sun StarRenaissance University's School of Education will indeed truly be that since one of its cores will be miaeutic Socratic Method, combined with modern CPS (Creative Problem- Solving) techniques, both of these being systems of methods for figuring out understandings.

Another core of Renaissance University's School of Education and its own teaching methods will include Lozanov-derived Suggestopedia, and a third core will be some of the various forms of accelerated and enhanced learning method represented in Ostrander's books on "Superlearning" and/or as currently represented in the International Alliance of Learning (IAL). It is our intent to also include some of the learning and performance-enhancing methodologies of Learning Strategies, Inc. of Wayzeta, Minnesota, as a fourth core. Though not for martial purposes, for both physiological and intellectual reasons we intend to include as a fifth core some content, at least, from several of the Oriental martial arts.

With reference to creativity method and CPS - Creative Problem-Solving - technique. literally hundreds of effective creative problem-solving techniques now serve in professional use around the world, result of the movement and training disciplines which began in the 1950s from such various taproots as Alex Osborn's CPS and Gordon Prince's Synectics.


Each of these hundreds of successful CPS methods can, with little modification, be turned into a profoundly accelerative and enhanced learning-with-understanding technique.  Examples of this phenomenon are laced throughout the present Project Renaissance website.


Indeed, the phenomena of learning, per se, appear to overlap by more than 90% the phenomena of creativity. Unbeknownst to most of the practitioners of either, the two fields—of education and of creativity—are almost the same field.


Also, all or virtually all of the successful creativity techniques in current professional use are essentially Socratic—causing one to closely examine one’s own first-hand awarenesses and to seek to respond from what one discovers there.



Missions of the School of Education:


For this reason of overlap with creativity, the School of Education will not be an isolated island in the archipelago of various separate university programs of study, teaching only teachers and would-be teachers. Instead its mission, like that of the School of Unified Studies, will be much broader:


1)  It will be intimately involved in the methodology and instructional process of the entire rest of the curriculum of the University.


2)   Part of the School of Education will also double as a Department of  Creative Studies, likewise not only with its own missions but intimately involved in the methodology and instructional process of the entire rest of Renaissance University's curriculum.


As a major element in educational curriculum is the integration of knowledge—one element and example of this is Jerome Bruner's "spiral curriculum"—the School of Education and the School of Unified Studies will be very strongly involved with each other.


Many present-day faculty involved with accelerated learning have also strongly developed proficiencies in other fields. We at Renaissance University will strongly encourage this tendency, so that the faculty of our School of Education will have strong proficiencies, experience and competencies to teach from besides educational method— no less than the teachers we graduate from our main programs will have genuine proficiency and competence in the fields in which they will be teaching.


Because Renaissance University will be crossing traditional academic boundaries at so many points, early in the development of the University the entire system of separate divisions, departments and schools will come under review. Foregoing the conveniences of such divisions and architecture, especially during the start-up of the University, is not lightly undertaken.We have no present plans to impose some different structural system, but there are so many flaws in the existing academic structure that we will definitely be looking for possible alternatives.  For the short run, we will have our hands pretty full starting up a model University which is already so different in so many ways from what people are used to.


Besides functioning as its own laboratory, the School of Education will develop and conduct one or more systems of lab schools at all other educational levels, whose mission will include the improvement of existing methods and the development of new ones; demonstration; training for our education students; and the generation of new and appropriate educational materials for publication.



Missions Beyond Renaissance University:


The School of Education will also provide a variety of services to the community, and possibly the bases of services whose provision will extend far beyond particular communities. Some of the more immediate and obvious services it may provide:


1)  Training in learning methods, and tutoring, to people enrolled as students in courses at other universities.


2)  Special training for faculty in existing secondary, elementary-primary and preschools, and in a variety of adult training programs.


3)  Programs providing improved methods and procedures, and faculty training, to other universities. Our competition is not other universities but the shortfalls in quality educational levels which all of us are committed to correct. We would be delighted to aid other universities in this regard now; we will be delighted to aid other universities in this regard later.


Part of the faculty of Renaissance University's School of Education will form an independent or autonomous department which can contract its services not only to this University but to other universities, variously as a department of Socratic studies, a department of accelerated learning methods, and/or as a department of creative studies. We will be pleased to see various of our faculty, both in and beyond the School of Education, serving in several universities simultaneously, as a means to promoting cooperation and educational advance along a broader front.


Indeed, forming this autonomous independent department, possibly in the context of other and existing universities, may precede formation of Renaissance University as such and serve as one of the means through which Renaissance University will be created. Also, some good can be accomplished by this means in the other host school or schools, since for purposes of needed reforms and improved practices in such schools, an organization of faculty is likelier to be taken more seriously than are individual faculty members. In every instance, whatever resources and tools may come to hand in this approach are to be used not for advantaging narrow interests, but entirely for positive advance along a broad common front.  The underlying criterion will always be, what will better enable more people to more completely fulfill their positive potential as human beings.




Photo courtesy of Elan Sun Star
Photo courtesy of Elan Sun Star



Renaissance University:

The Developmental Programs


There are two things which no educational institution should ever forget, even if nearly all of them appear to have done so....


   1)   Each learner is a whole human being. His learning, even in seemingly the most abstract or narrowly specialized academic matters, involves all of himself, and to be successful draws upon all of himself.


   2)   Every identifiable skill or brain function which relates to intellectual functioning can be enhanced by the appropriate reinforcements and training to, in turn, enhance intellectual functioning.


The developmental division of Renaissance University will draw in its programs upon the following strategies and resources:


1)  Oriental martial arts such as T'ai Chi, Karate, etc., to improve focus and a closer relationship between intention and action, among other non-martial purposes.


2)  A strongly detailed program of calibrated sensori-motor activities, in the human developmental model, re-working and attuning the more basic functions of the brain in order to better support the brain's higher functionings.


3)  Training activities adapted from various sports, to train up faster and more accurate physical responses.


4)  Tachistoscopic-type activities to tune up, render faster, clearer and more accurate many functions more directly and closely related to intellectual functioning.


5)  An aggressive practice pursuing the very foundations of understanding, per the Jean Piaget schema. Cognitive Structural Enhancement (see Winsights No. 44) is one of our initial primary ways of achieving this. Test instruments for monitoring, self-monitoring and "going meta to" one's own thoughts, perceptions, situational encounters and intellectual strategies, will be another of our means.


6)  We will also feature an R & D program developing computer games specifically for the purpose of enhancing intellectual and related functions, and the sundry additional, more basic brain functions which lead to these. Publications of games and programs from this endeavor are expected to become one of the incomes of the University.


7)  We will have each other, with our various talents, there at the University. We will also have there a large and building influx of world-class geniuses and leaders through our program of symposia, as well as by direct invitation for purposes of these developmental programs. We will therefore model and cross-model, using NLP procedures and using such Project Renaissance procedures as ‘Borrowed Genius" as a major resource for heightening sought-after abilities in all who participate in these programs.


8)  Through many procedures including, for example, "Toolbuilder," we will all be engaged in aggressively seeking out, creating and testing new protocols for enhancing intellectual functioning, some of which will be better than, and will replace, some of our initial developmental practices.


Each full-time and liberal arts student at the University, and many as well of other students, staff and faculty, will create and fulfill a succession of initially modest contracts for self-improvement in the developmental programs. The cumulative effect of these contracts should be somewhat beyond modest. Incentives will attach to not only gains in personal performance, but to instances and extents to which one helps and encourages others toward such achievement.


This developmental program will also serve older adults who are in or anticipating career-change, greatly broadening and improving their job options and prospects.


The developmental program, like the Renaissance University program generally, will also make available training in such fundamental skills as fast-math and PhotoReading. That likely majority of students who reach us who were not voracious readers previously, will be conducted through what amounts to a fairly conventional Great Books program to build background, at least those who are Liberal Arts candidates. They will also be conducted through an intensive and sustained PhotoReading program covering considerable literature, with activations and seminars, to develop in them the values and the intuitive and beyond-conscious understandings which are characteristic of life-long voracious readers and of well-educated Liberal Arts graduates.  In each basic subject of study in the curriculum, there will also be extensive PhotoRead material in addition to conventional readings and research, to develop an intuitive feel for and appreciation of that subject.


A well-detailed, well-monitored and incentivized developmental model which, as much as our institutional methods, is needed to make it feasible for Renaissance University to feature, together without contradiction, a near open-door admissions policy, a very low failure rate, and unconventionally high levels of intellectual achievement in its graduates.


As program capacity develops, this "brain spa" program's services will be extended to Renaissance University's system of laboratory schools, and hopefully will extend also to the students of other institutions along with services in training our learning methods— and to the community. Indeed, one of the main sources of income for the University is expected to be via such services, which may be extended to many communities and possibly world-wide.


Traditionally, universities have acted as much in the role of gate-keepers as they have in providing education or instruction, and in providing research. Most of the gate-keeping has revolved around assumptions about fixed levels of and limits to ability. Those assumptions are put aside: "Where there's a will, there's a developmental program."


Some gate-keeping no doubt remains for Renaissance University in some ability issues, but not very much; also considerably reduced will be gate-keeping duties with regards to values and motivation, partly because of the program of incentives. Also, as Renaissance University earns more and more of its way with valued income-producing services, it won't need to focus so much of its energies on fund-raising.


Thus, Renaissance University will become increasingly free to focus on its principal roles: educating; research; developing the finest possible human beings; and equipping them as well as possible for their finest possible roles in contribution to culture and civilization.



Photography courtesy of Elan Sun Star
Image courtesy of Elan Sun Star



Renaissance University:

Department of Creative Studies


One of its first duties will be to pick up where Project Renaissance’s website leaves off, which has an exhibit currently of about twenty major creative problem-solving procedures self-taught on the Web. We are building toward an exhibit which eventually will be titled "The World's 101 Best Effective and Creative Problem-Solving Methods." Many of these methods are Project Renaissance's; others come from other cited sources.


The point here is that a much broader range and number of programs and procedures are in service than have been thus far emphasized in the Department of Creative Studies at State University College in Buffalo, New York, the academic body which otherwise provides an admirable model for some of what the proposed Department at Renaissance University intends to do. The Buffalo-based department is built very largely around the original form of Creative Problem Solving (CPS) method created by Alex Osborn and advanced by Dr. Sidney J. Parnes.  Osborn-Parnes CPS method will indeed be one of the taproots of the proposed new Department; so will Synectics; so will the many original methods featured in Project Renaissance; so will other sources, programs and methods.


Major questions in recent years have arisen about key points in the paradigm theory on creativity and creative methods. These questions have not been carried through into investigation, and many of them appear to be of a crucial nature.  One of the other first duties of the proposed Department will be to develop studies to investigate those key questions and thus, where necessary and appropriate, to challenge the existing paradigm.


Two other special duties will be in highest priority as well for the new Department, involving it both with the School of Education and with the School of Economics and Enterprise. With Enterprise, not only will this Department be teaching students to be effective innovators, inventors, creators and problem-solvers; this Department will be extensively facilitating problem-solving throughout a swarm of student-run enterprises so that a much higher percentage of these may succeed and eventually support the College and University as well as the student and graduate entrepreneurs who own and direct them. With Education, this Department will actively develop additional enhanced and accelerated learning procedures. Nearly every successful creativity procedure can double as such a learning procedure, usually with little adaptation needed. We also wish to look more deeply into the fact that virtually every successful creativity procedure is essentially Socratic.


One other very important priority also faces this Department, in contrast thus far to other departments of creative studies. It will go to great lengths to be of service in the community, and to train many community leaders.


One additional priority:  in every aspect, the creation of Renaissance University itself will face many problems. Hence a functioning Department of Creative Studies, early in that process or even preceding it, will be invaluable in facilitating solution-finding in all these instances and aspects.


This Department of Creative Studies may even be formed up autonomously, partially independent of the University and preceding the creation of the University itself. As such, the Department can contract its services to other educational institutions, provide services in the community, and become one of the nucleii from which the Renaissance University itself can be launched. This is pretty much the same prospect as for what will become the University's School of Education. Since creativity and learning overlap so, phenomenologically speaking, and so many of the creativity methods can serve as basis for profoundly accelerative learning methods, and some of the people in the Department of Creative Studies will be the same as people in the School of Education: in pre-University days the aforementioned autonomous contracting agency may be both what will become the School of Education and what will become the Department of Creative Studies, contracting out its creativity services and expertise to some organizations and its educational services and expertises to other organizations.


Although Project Renaissance is playing something of this dual role now, because it is our hope that other programs will join us in the creation of Renaissance University proper, it is also our hope that some will join with us to create a precursor body specifically to play this role more directly on behalf of the forthcoming University.


All liberal arts graduates of Renaissance University, as well as some students who attend more narrowly specialized programs, will be well schooled in several, not only one, of the effective CPS methodologies. Given the variety of problems and contexts, each method can serve as back-up to the others, providing complementarity. What one method doesn't solve, another likely will. Our graduates will not be easily stopped. Many will also develop some skill in facilitation, and some can develop careers directly in the creativity profession. The entire program of Renaissance University, however, will be about as creative as we can render it.


For all its key roles, the Department of Creative Studies is the sector most subject to change. Here is why:  One of the best uses of a good problem-solving method is ON the problem of: how to create BETTER problem-solving methods. One of the best uses of those methods in turn is on the problem of:  how to create EVEN BETTER such methods!  This re-investment of methods into better methods can—and should—go on forever. This principle and pursuit are intended for the ages; the particular methods and forms consequently cannot be, and will be periodically reviewed and upgraded, as likely will be the whole of Renaissance University itself.


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