Replacing academia with a learning community
My name is Nick St Louis and I’m the current Chief Nerd within the Foot Nerd community. The role of Chief Nerd is to deeply understand the vision for our community and to constantly edit and evolve the reason we exist while facilitating the emergence of sensemaking within our global network of health leaders. One of my roles is to research the current education landscape and identify opportunities for improvement. In our mission to create a better option for learning health, it’s important to know where the current health education landscape has gone off track.
Understanding the limitations and structure of conventional academia has given me some unique insights in how we can carry over the positives and leave behind the negatives that no longer serve the greater good. Three primary features of academia that inhibit learning are ego, value placed on grades, and professor tenure (I think the process of selecting teachers based on their ability to publish or get research grants instead of for their ability to engage and teach students is a major problem as well)
Ego is rampant in academia. Professors are top of the food chain and viewed as the holders of knowledge. From my experience, professors are often wedded to the ideas they teach and if ever challenged, will fiercely defend them instead without fully weighing the merit of alternative perspectives. With the Foot Nerd Program (FNP) we eliminate ego by codifying open mindedness and a willingness to see alternative perspectives in our community values. We are all lifetime students and we all contribute to the knowledge base by bringing our perspectives forward. The most compelling ideas becomes our collective truth and are replaced when new information is presented that makes more sense.
There are no grades in the FNP. No formal exams. The objective isn’t to memorize and regurgitate information. The goal is to inspire a desire for learning and provide a framework through which personal experience and asking good questions leads us individually and collectively to an expanded understanding of health.
Tenure in academia guarantees mediocrity. It eliminates the pressure for teachers to improve their craft and deliver value to the students paying to learn from them. University professors are guaranteed massive salaries and given the option to be crappy at their job without any consequences. Teachers are selected within the FNP under the framework of a meritocracy. Those with the deepest understanding on a topic are given the right to teach that topic to the community. Everyone is given equal opportunity and encouraged to contribute knowledge in their area of interest.
In the quest to create a better option when it comes to health education, we’re replacing academia with a learning community. We’re re-humanizing education. We help each other learn health by supporting and holding each other accountable to BEING health.
We are Foot Nerds and we lead by example to create a better future for team human.
Thanks for reading.