the Road,

loose worldwide metacollective of itinerant scholars and teachers — or, ones way of life “when out to be taught”. An entrenched institution and a stage in life for a majority, the Road strives to remain “half-mythical”: never a promoted or prepackaged choice, its been always — at times inventively — masked out, downplayed, kept from ritualization.  ■    Family travels early in life are a rehearsal for the adolescent Road; without the supervised diversity and proactive meme vaccination in childhood excursions, the Road may prove too much of a cliff to jump. After the festive “childhood as adventure,” however, the Road of learning is starkly different in tone: it is coming of age one grows into, an expectedly painful metamorphosis; everyones secret discovery, it is an inborn explay void you must fill on your own. Perhaps before all else, the Road is a coevolving response to an unfolding minds crisis of hatching (restlessness, “missing out” frustration, dissatisfaction with self): leaving the sored confines of your natal nest is a first step into adulthood. ■    Adolescence, the age of aloneness, is also that of friendship — which often catalyzes the escape, friends leaving together; Mind/Human couples are common during their stints of coordinated inknowing but most part ways afterwards. Younger travelers tend to family-hop, older ones join collectives or form roaming bands with similar-age students; the core Road metaphor is that of going from one understanding to the next (not just physically, though few graduate without actual journeying): in the classic homeless hiking on foot “to shake down the absorbed lores,” scrolling backdrops aid retention — and airbrush sketches need no blackboard. ■    Talkers vs. listeners is no class-like division on the Road: a settled teacher may get lifted by the draft, leave with her disciples — now classmates at the next Road stop; older roadies “naturally shift teachward with age.” One-on-one engagements (from an evenings talk 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 the Road as flashes of giddily interactive sessions between longer retreats into self-study. Towards the end of the Road, some find a graduation teacher to launch them onto their first rooted project, others quietly drift offroad — or their studies enter uncharted lands with no next teacher to work towards; but many addict — keep on the Road into maturity or return to it in binges throughout life. Pursue whatever thrills you, seek who shares your passion to learn from and together: if ever you shine, your own emulators will trace your travels, encounters, courses, books (“reroad,” a variant of relife). If nothing else, the Road — ones “first practical lifemaking experience” — builds up a stock of lived identities whence a future you will be borrowing.  ■    A Road explainer may seek no pupils nor be sought; he or she just happens to know the right thing at the right time — wizardry amplifies an unplanned lesson all the way into “life-changing pedagogy.” Respected masters go professional: publish lectures, enforce entry qualifications, hire assistant teachers (the strata is densely if nonobtrusively networked, with a sub-Road of its own for educators), migrate towards “Road countries” — sparse campus-like provinces whose subject maps guide students' itineraries. With age, notable teachers tend to self-censor: get picky with admissions, close up into “teacher towers”; some Leave — or namechange, “restart the cycle” to return to the Road as learners.  ■    Ancient traditions (apprentices, vagrant scholars) notwithstanding, the modern Road is most directly related to modernitys mass education — and its discontents. Back then, some resisted secularizing and homogenizing of education because they knew too well how to teach: charismatic headmasters (“joy of drill”) walled up against the creeping rot of the world-gone-mad. Others readily admitted not having all the answers (a student is a talent minefield, the world we teach keeps turning on its head) so favored the informal, individual, evolving, prized understanding over knowledge: “revivals of the classic languages only started when they were no longer institutionally crammed”; for these, the standardized mass education — “progressive at the time” — was too rigid and underchallenging. Between these extremes, a continuum of educational theories and endeavors bubbled, families meandering in search of the ideal school; as that stratum thickened it became, itself, a viable alternative to “a university far away” for family-shedding teenagers: now you could go peripatetic without being untutored.  ■    Already under pressure from distributed distance education, institutions started to accommodate the itinerant scholars: best universities — “cities on the Road” — catalyzed the transition by opening up their courses, welcoming single-lecture or single-semester guests; notions of institutional prestige and elitist networking were being sparsened away just then. As averages and aggregates were 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 — “authority-based teaching” — surged, provoking the first attempts of engaging subversion. ■    The dust of the “unaccredited revolution” has settled now, the mature Road is refinding much of whats been explayed in the transition; confrontations have mellowed but a dynamic equilibrium endures: 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 happen at the micro level: blur, lifemaking templates for associations, referrals, educational rituals, knowledge that is “increasingly self-aware” — teeming with minds, “intelligent throughout”; the post-sparsening world is busy “learning to learn and teaching to teach.”

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