¿Qué es el MPC? – MPCers en Así es la Vida de Libertopolis.com

Hoy fuimos entrevistados estudiantes y graduados del Michael Polanyi College (MPC) Isa Sagastuy, Samantha Montepeque, Nacho Galindo y yo por Raúl Contreras en su programa Así es la Vida en Libertopolis.com.

En el programa tuvimos una fascinante conversación sobre qué es MPC y nuestra experiencia en este departamento de la Universidad Francisco Marroquín.

Mis amigos del MPC y yo disfrutamos mucho la conversación. En ella Raúl nos hizo pensar con preguntas difíciles sobre nuestra experiencia en el MPC y el aprendizaje y la transformación por la que hemos pasado en este programa.

Samantha habló sobre los obstáculos que el MPC le ayudó a sobrepasar y cómo el programa del MPC también le ayudó a descubrir qué dirección tomar en su carrera. Nacho habló sobre el enfoque educativo en el MPC sobre el estudiante como el centro de todo y del aprendizaje como un proceso de inmersión a la realidad. Isa habló sobre cómo los estudiantes del MPC aprendemos a hacer la preguntas profundas y difíciles con las que se inician lecciones para aprender para la vida; y sobre cómo podemos ingresar al programa. Y yo hablé sobre cómo escuché primero sobre el MPC y sobre los retos que enfrentamos al pensar sobre nuestra elección de carrera.

Definitivamente nos quedamos con ganas de más reflexión y diálogo sobre el aprendizaje y el crecimiento personal, y cómo el Michael Polanyi College at UFM nos ayuda a alcanzar nuestro potencial en estas áreas tan importantes de la vida.

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What is MPC… On One Foot

I always have to explain to people the department I am enrolled in at the university, I want to explain here my own account of what MPC is in a condensed way as if I had to say it standing on one foot.

The Michael Polanyi College (MPC) is a department of Universidad Francisco Marroquin that offers a four-year bachelor of arts. The program is divided into three phases: the first year is the ‘Bootcamp’ phase, the second and third year is the ‘Fellowship’ phase, and the fourth year is the ‘Leadership’ year.

The Bootcamp phase is literally a boot camp year in which students are introduced to and trained in skills that will help them to be independent ‘learners’ and thinkers. Students go through a fixed, but unconventional program in which they read the “Great Books” of western civilization and engage in “Socratic dialogues” around these readings. They have no classes in lecture format; all classes are Socratic discussions in which students’ beliefs are challenged and their thinking skills are put to work and refined.

In the second phase, the “Fellowship” years students get to choose the courses they want to take in the areas of interest. They no longer have a fixed curriculum, they have to design their own courses and mentors whom with study their courses. MPC no longer directs guides their education, but only works as an assistant and advisor to their overall direction that they give to their own learning. But students have to report before each semester starts what course they are taking, what are the goals, methods, and materials for their courses, and who is mentoring them. They sign course canvases and mentor agreements with MPC and their mentors to formalize it.

In the third phase, the “Leadership” phase they get to embark on what is called the “Great Work”. The Great Work is a project in which they have to show in the form of some tangible, real-life project, the knowledge, and skills they learned throughout the program. When students graduate from the program they are awarded an academic degree on “Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with focus on [blank]” and students get to choose what the blank will say in their academic degree according to what their concentration in the years of MPC was. And the Great Work is the project in which students show why they deserve the degree they are claiming.

There is more to say about the MPC program, but this is the general outline of what this program is about. I will say more about the program and the different phases, and my experience in the program, and my evaluation of it in future blog posts. Stay tuned.

Five things you would not want to miss from the MPC Bootcamp

There are many things that you could gain and improve from the first year of the Michael Polanyi College (MPC) at UFM. The first year at MPC is about strengthening your learning abilities. It is, as its name states, a boot camp, which is an environment in which you will be exposed to experiences that will help you initiate your journey of self-directed learning.

Here are five things which I greatly valued from my experience that I think you would not want to miss from the MPC Bootcamp.

A stronger sense of independence

In the Bootcamp, you will have to rely strictly on your own abilities to stay on track of the learning experience. And although this is tough, the best experience at the Bootcamp demands far more effort than merely surviving. This is not about survival. Achieving success in the MPC is not the equivalent of avoiding drop off.

In the Bootcamp you will have the opportunity to develop a reliance on your own power to think, thus creating the foundations for the next years in the MPC. In these next years, you will be directing your learning, which will require from you that you rely on your power to make choices, to fail sometimes, but fundamentally, to learn and to grow.

You have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. You have to choose the work you want to do. If you find no joy in it, then you are only condemning yourself to sixty years of torture. And you can find the joy only if you do your work in the best way possible to you. But the best is a matter of standards─ so set your own standards.

Great relationships with fellow MPCers

A major aspect of the experience at the MPC is collaborative learning. Through the hours of classes being shared and the challenges and difficulties you and your peers will go through, you will have a significant opportunity to develop your ability to collaborate with others. The Socratic practice will also foster empathy between your peers and you, which will expand your capacity to appreciate and mutually help each other, not only in learning together but in social relationships more generally.

Appeal to the best in people which is their minds and you will have an ally in the arena of life with whom expand your potentialities for growth.

Develop better learning abilities

Learn from others, but know that learning requires an independent process of thought and evaluation that you must perform alone, and the standard by which you must accept something as true can be nothing other than your own grasp of the facts and the arguments.

MPC’s approach to higher learning is rooted in collaborative, Socratic learning. Through deep-diving into the texts and dialogues, one engages one’s mind in intense intellectual training to sharpen our thinking skills.

Your intellectual growth

In exploring the Great Books of the Western World you get to engage the ideas that have shaped Western Civilization. This helps us cultivate an appreciation for the great ideas and great stories that make up our culture. The great historical issues that surround the ideas we explore can also, for an intellectual-leaning student, breed curiosity as to motivate us further to understand the ideas and their importance.

The open exploration that the Socratic facilitators encourage fosters one’s ability to judge for oneself the arguments being presented and a great appreciation for questions. As questions drive our curiosity to explore the world and think about issues deeper.

Lots of fun!

Fun is about Joy. If you come to wait with expectation and hunger of knowledge the joyous arrival of each Monday, rather than the unexamined routine of the escape of reality of Friday nights, you succeeded as a value-achiever-learner and independent first-handed person that took advantage of the great potential this program and its students have.

As your group develops better dialogue skills the learning dynamics start to lighten and the classes turn increasingly enjoyable because you are succeeding in the activity of learning.

The morning meetings are a component of the program that can be molded into spaces for exploring your peers’ interests and learning all kinds of new things with them.

*Picture taken from: https://www.instagram.com/p/B74c3dpgX3Z/