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Harrison Danneskjold

The Classroom of the Future

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Yesterday, in this thread about raising awareness about Objectivism, this happened:

 

22 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

A kid's TV show would actually be [an ideal way to rapidly disseminate Rand's ideas] (something like the Magic Schoolbus with the occasional deep-thinking activity thrown in periodically) but in today's political climate they'd probably kill it with legislation after the first season.

22 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Well, say more about this. Five minutes of one of the episodes.

20 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

It'd start out with some kid (let's call him "Will") eating breakfast with his mom and dad. He'd listen to them talk about the weather or bills (etc.) and they'd ask if he was excited for his first day at school and he'd give a non-committal kinda "yes", and after about a minute they'd all get up, throw their dishes in the incinerator and go outside.

Outside there would be flying cars, massive buildings that don't seem possible, androids walking down the street and just a few blocks away a skyscraper, stretching far beyond the clouds and making some loud sort of ascending noise. His dad would make a mildly displeased comment about missing the 7:25 before his parents walked him down into the skyscraper and inside of something that looked like a Subway car standing on one end, strapped him into a seat between two other children and kissed him goodbye.

After a few seconds he'd introduce himself to the other kids and they'd talk for a while about their parents' jobs before being interrupted by a countdown over the intercom, followed by that loud ascending noise and lots of vibrations. One kid would try to make a joke about it (which everyone would pretend to laugh at) and as the interior of the skyscraper sped past the windows they'd all fall silent. Over the course of about thirty seconds you'd see beams and girders flying past at a steadily-accelerating rate and then suddenly there'd be nothing out the window except bluish-white, slowly fading to black.

A bit later the noise and vibrations would stop, the voice on the intercom would give them permission to unbuckle themselves and they'd all do so. A game of zero-G tag would probably ensue. Then their teacher would come in, welcome them all to the orbital ring, give them a few tips on moving around without gravity and invite them to follow him to the classroom. As they filed out of the space elevator some benevolent and overly-chivalrous kid would be holding the hatch open for everyone, but accidentally release it onto Will's fingers. He'd yell and cradle his hand for a minute (obviously determined not to cry in front of girls), the poor kid who'd dropped the hatch on him would be on the verge of open blubbering, the teacher would investigate and make sure everything was okay before rubbing a "topical anesthetic" on his hand. After a brief pause Will would marvel at that, openly; asking how it worked.

 

This would prompt an explanation of nerves, for a while, back in the classroom. The teacher would demonstrate that knee-jerk reflex test on the jokester (he volunteered), explaining how the brain is where thinking happens and how some efferent nerves are built straight into the spinal cord but most of them won't fire without an impulse from the brain, itself: "which is why your arms and legs can't move themselves unless you think them to - which is a very good thing, indeed!" And they'd learn how certain kinds of stuffs (like anesthetics and chocolate) can do very funny things to neurons. He'd briefly mention that the human brain is completely made out of neurons and that the human brain is the most complicated and amazing thing we've ever found before.

A somewhat grubby-looking girl, in clothes clearly inferior to the others', would've been floating by a window and looking down on the Earth this whole time. She'd sigh wistfully, then, and say: "this place is pretty amazing to me. How is any of this even possible?"

Hearing that, the teacher would chuckle: "What makes it possible? My dear, it's all a matter of figuring out what things are. What any thing is ... and what it could be..."

She'd spin around to face him with an astonished "what?!?!!" to which he'd respond "oh, my! It's time for lunch!"

 

Lunch would include a musical number. Every episode would center around a different member of the class. If I ever see this on TV, without my permission - good for you! The world needs more of it!!!

I'll be here all week!

 

P.S:

Yes, there is an excellent reason to put a school on an orbital ring: because it would be fucking awesome.

19 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I understand the fear of legislation, generally -- but imo, something like you've proposed (and especially the sample) would have no problems. And it's never been more possible, given how the internet has allowed content providers to access the public almost directly.

A "collective" of Objectivist artists dedicated to creating content like this for the web (via YouTube, webcomics, whatever) could be financed via crowdsourcing and never have to actually meet-up to produce, given Skype and all of the other amazing resources available today. It might even work on some cable channel, or a streaming service, but I don't think that's even necessary.

The dedication should be to quality entertainment (and education), and the most important aspect is: passionate creators.

19 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Well, if it's an internet thing, I want nothing whatsoever to do with the animations. You'll need someone else for that.

 

Now, I've actually found that I really kinda like this idea, but it is too much for me to try single-handedly.  If anyone else likes it too, wants to help or has any suggestions - that's what this thread is for!  I'll also be fleshing it out more, here and there, whenever something strikes me.

 

What's the worst that could happen?

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I've changed my mind about the first episode. It should be centered on the scruffy little girl (Amelia) so that the exchange about "what makes it all possible" will actually be the primary focus. It'll explain how scientific discoveries lead to innovation, which leads to a better life for everyone (skipping over any possibility of people choosing to stay miserable); the basic link between your mind and the quality of your life.

 

Now, Amelia doesn't live the same way the other children do. Her grandparents have very few childrens' necessities (books, clothes, toys, etc), a shoestring budget and the early stages of senility. So she spends her first few minutes in this classroom literally speechless. The shock eventually gives way to a melancholy, hopeless sort of longing, though, which is when she prompts her teacher, Mister I., to explain what makes it possible.

She'll be feeling much better by the end of that; asking Mister I if anyone can be an inventor, if they want to be. He'll chuckle, tell her 'yes' and mention offhandedly that he had been an inventor himself, once, and considers it one of the very best things a person can try to be. 

She'll involuntarily blurt out "really?!", her eyes glistening with awe and admiration. And after a few seconds her face will scrunch up in total bewilderment as she asks "then why did you stop?".

He'll answer, easily: "because of the reasons that made me stop", laugh and then change the subject before she can demand a real answer.

 

After that, every episode will revolve around a different kid and discuss some technology (from the scientists whose discoveries made it possible to the people whose lives benefit from it, and anything particularly cool or interesting inbetween). And at some point in every single episode Amelia will try to learn why Mister I dropped inventing for teaching, never by the same method twice but never successfully.

 

Edit:

Well, only once successfully, and that wouldn't be until the very end of the series.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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