The Scaffolding Collective

Sharing our Skills
Collectively Researching and Learning

The Vision

The vision for this model comes from stories about prisoner-of-war camps. There they were, trapped as a group of captured soldiers in miserable circumstances and nowhere to go. Then the inspiration came; the choice. Either they stay as a gaggle of individual souls, each enduring their own misery, or they could reach out to each other and build a community of hope and vision. Some camps had a camp university, each offering their skills to eager learners in mathematics, knowledge of science and chemistry, languages, philosophy, tying ropes, weaving, etc.

They had circles of experts debating and sharing, and eager neophytes listening and learning. This collective brought hope of a life beyond imprisonment. It appealed to the best in who they were. By serving each other and being invested in the intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth of others, they developed a caring community which they all valued deeply.

The vision: celebrate the diversity and offerings of every member of the community (be it a small town or village, or a suburban neighborhood or a city block or two in the city). Free of charge we share our skills, free of charge we choose to learn, free of charge we mentor, we join a research quest. We collectively decide on a topic of interest, and eventually we will look back and stand in amazement of what we have learned and gained as a community. We join hands in gratitude for what we have been blessed to give and receive. We are glad to be alive and to connect to wonderful people who allow us to show we care and who show us they care about us.

The next step would be to see if this concept captures the minds of a community. Each community will take the concept and design for their context. I am eager to launch such a Scaffolding Collective. If you are interested to learn more, please contact me at the email listed below.

Here is a sample concept: The Lincoln Academy will have as its mission to educate the community by using local know-how, and as needed, including visiting instructors, teachers, or mentors. Distance mentoring and training will also be facilitated. Partners could be the public library, the chamber of commerce, the city council or county government, churches and other civic organizations, foundations, etc.

MENTORING The academy will have a cadre of volunteer mentors to provide guidance and collective reflection to any student. (Facilitate a personal reflection of your interests, your hopes, your skills, your talents, your learning preferences, your challenges. Then develop a plan or two, with a plan B and C on the table to achieve intellectual and learning objectives.

The academy will do outreach to universities and colleges to help academy members enroll, find scholarships, and succeed academically.

The academy will constantly reflect to provide the best possible opportunity for those with special needs. Those with exceptional talent will be optimally supported. If an exceptional talent is discovered anywhere in the country, their location should not determine the level of success possible to them in life. The academy has as its mission to help bridge the deficit, should there be, in mentoring, training, skill development, and support to achieve success. These fields include sport, music, art and intellect.

Learning could be targeted and career goals, personal development, life skills, and in-service improvement.

FORMAL INSTRUCTION The academy will have courses that are offered at a nominal fee. At least 90% of the fee would remunerate the instructor. The academy board will seek accreditation where feasible to allow students to transfer their skill set to other institutions. The academy will not seek to degrees, but provide components of highly transferable skills and learning. In the case of applied skills, a certificate will be issued to confirm the skills acquired. These are mostly vocational skills (to design, construct, repair, service.).

COLLECTIVE LEARNING Learning and Research Circles will be informal, and it will be organized as a learning community (LC). Participants will each research and collectively contribute to the knowledge of the LC. These topics may vary widely, including epidemiology, horticulture, urban planning, entrepreneurship, etc.

The Academy will have an Entrepreneurs Club. This will be an initiative to allow for collective reflection and mentoring to improve the opportunities of the community to develop businesses and improve the welfare of the community. Other clubs or circles are encouraged, such as financial management, health and fitness, community service, social intelligence, servant leadership, etc.

Dr. Jacques du Plessis
School of Information Studies
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee,
WI 53201-0413, USA
jacques @ uwm . edu