the Road,

loose worldwide metacollective of itinerant scholars and teachers. An entrenched institution, a stage in life for a majority — “what you do when out to be taught” — it strives to remain “half-mythical”: never a promoted or prepackaged choice, the Road has been always — at times inventively — masked out, downplayed, guarded from routine or ritualization.  ■    Family travels early in life rehearse for the adolescent Road: without the supervised diversity and proactive meme vaccination in childhood, the later Road is more of a cliff to jump. After the festive “childhood as adventure,” however, the Road of learning is starkly different in tone: everyones secret discovery, an inborn explay void you can only fill on your own, it is coming of age that you grow into — an expectedly painful metamorphosis. Perhaps before all else, the Road is a coevolving response to every unfolding minds hatching crisis with its restlessness, “missing out” frustration, dissatisfaction with self and with the world: leave the sore confines of your natal nest to emerge into adulthood. ■    Adolescence is the age of aloneness but also of friendship — which often catalyzes the escape, friends leaving together; younger travelers family-hop, older ones apprentice at collectives or form roaming student bands; Mind/Human couples start their inknowing, some to evolve into lifelong companionships. The core Road metaphor is passing from one understanding to the next — not necessarily physically, though few graduate without any traveling: in the classic homeless hiking on foot, “to shake down the absorbed lores,” scrolling backdrops aid retention — and airbrush sketches need no blackboard. ■    The talkers vs. listeners divide is situational: a settled teacher would get lifted by the updraft, leave with her disciples — now classmates at the next Road stop; older roadies “naturally shift teachward with age.” One-on-one engagements (from a sunset dialogue on a hilltop to years of apprenticeship and near-adoption) at best plant an outline for the ultimate learnables — but its a crucial seed; many remember their Road as flashes of giddily interactive sessions between long retreats into self-study. Towards the end of the Road, many look for a graduation teacher to launch them onto their first project, others quietly drift offroad — or their studies enter uncharted lands with no next teacher to work towards; but some get addicted — keep on the Road well into maturity or return to it in binges throughout life. Pursue your thrills, seek whoever shares your passion, learn from and together: if nothing else, the Road will be your first lifemaking, will build your stock of lived identities a future you may borrow from — and if ever you rise to fame, your emulators will retrace your travels, encounters, courses, books (“reroad,” a variant of relife).  ■    A serendipitous Road explainer may seek no pupils nor be sought — only happens to know the right thing at the right time, natural wizardry amplifying an unplanned tutorial into a lifechanging elucidation. Successful teachers go professional: publish lectures, tests, qualifications, hire assistants (the strata is densely if nonobtrusively networked, with a sub-Road for educators), migrate towards “Road countries” — sparse campus-like provinces whose subject maps guide students' itineraries. With age, educators tend to self-censor: get picky with admissions, close up into “teacher towers”; eventually leave — or namechange to “restart the cycle” and return to the Road as learners.  ■    Ancient traditions (apprentices, vagrant scholars) notwithstanding, the modern Road most directly inherits from modernitys mass education — and its discontents. Back then, secularizing and homogenizing of education were resisted by those who “knew how to teach”: charismatic headmasters of the “joy of drill” persuasion walled up against the creeping rot of world-gone-mad. Their antipodes were the happy adhocrats who saw every student as a talent minefield, not to mention the exciting unpredictability of the world to be taught: only the informal, individual, evolving may ever work, understanding trumps knowledge, “revivals of the classic languages only began when they were no longer institutionally crammed”; for them, the standardized mass education — “progressive at the time” — felt rigid and underchallenging. Between these extremes, a continuum of theories, groups, projects seethed, families meandering in search of an ideal school; eventually that stratum of rovers became, itself, a viable alternative to “a university far away” for family-shedding teenagers: a way to go wild studiously.  ■    Already under pressure from distributed distance education, traditional establishments accommodated the itinerant scholars; best universities — “cities on the Road” — catalyzed the transition: opened up their courses, welcomed single-lecture or single-semester guests; notions of institutional prestige and elitist networking were being sparsened away just then. Averages and aggregates becoming meaningless, “the very notion of quality education” seemed to be up in smoke; a whole generation, caught in the turmoil, went undereducated — underrealized — for want of simple self-management; equal opportunity in education, historically just achieved, looked hopelessly squandered. A conservative reaction of “authority-based teaching” surged, provoking the first attempts of engaging subversion. ■    The dust of the “unaccredited revolution” has long settled, the mature Road having refound or refounded much of what was explayed in the transformation; confrontations mellowed but the equilibrium is still dynamic: a newborn educational project starts by walling up against the stream of the Road — only to open up and dissolve into it in the end. Important Road adaptations emerge at the micro level: blur, lifemaking templates (associations, referrals, educational rituals), knowledge that is “increasingly self-aware” — teeming with minds, “intelligent throughout”; the post-sparsening world is learning to learn and teaching to teach.

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