There is No Syllabus for Life

By: Chris Unger

This Thursday, I look forward to attending the Seattle premiere of Where Students Lead (trailer) at our Northeastern University Seattle campus. The documentary, co-created with Overflow Productions by students at the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies (BVCAPS) in Overland Park just outside Kansas City, captures the impact on students when their passions, curiosity, interests and creativity connect with learning about the world of work. With well-designed guidance of mentors, teachers and community – this school and the CAPS network of affiliated programs numbering over 50 across the country (plus a recent partnership with a school in India), students are supported in pursuing their interests in the world of work. Students undertake real-world projects under the guidance of community members and industry mentors while engaging in unique and innovative courses with industry partners. Students have the opportunity to pursue learning under the guidance of career professionals.

The focus of this movie, aligned with the title, centers on creating a learning space and place at the core of a community for students to explore their interests and passions in the world. The night I visited their innovation showcase, I walked around the room while dozens of students were sharing their learning projects, products, videos and websites. While there, I was approached by three students who said they were making a movie about their program and that the director said they should interview me, as I was an ardent advocate for student-centered, real-world learning. I did my best to give voice to the amazing work I had heard about at the school, exemplifying what is possible when we put learning in the hands, hearts and minds of students. Fast forward several months, where upon viewing the footage, it was clear that they would truly empower their students by partnering them with Overload Productions to finish the final touches on the film. The result is, Where Students Lead, having been shown across several theaters throughout the Midwest and now this Thursday, May 30, at 6PM at our Seattle Northeastern University campus.

The most important take away from this movie is hearing students give voice to the power of owned agency and an opportunity to explore their interests and passions. While there is “no syllabus for life,” as one student states in the movie, schools can better help young men and women to begin thinking about the professions they might want to pursue, with a clearer vision for their future. We cannot lose sight of our opportunity, if not responsibility, to help students gain a better sense of themselves, explore their interests and begin to design their future.

For those of you in the Seattle area, I hope to see you at our Northeastern University Seattle campus at 401 Terry Avenue N @ 6PM this Thursday, May 30, 2019.

Additional showings are scheduled for:

For More See:

Chris Unger is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Graduate Programs in Education including the Doctor of Education program. Dr. Unger co-leads Northeastern’s Network of Experiential Learning Educators (NExT) with a number of his colleagues within the Graduate School of Education and throughout the university, and is the lead faculty for the EdD program in Seattle.

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