At NOCOFO we’ve developed a progressive pedagogical paradigm to help advance moral integrity, humanism and social consciousness in the face of what we feel are humanity’s two greatest social breakdowns: conformity and blind obedience.
Developed and piloted at Columbia University, we’ve designed a new existential model called, Ethical Nonconformity Education (ENE). The ENE curriculum posits that not only is it okay to not fit in, but sometimes it’s most ethical not to.
Accessible by a series of ten engaging workshops (also deliverable in a 3-day intensive), we aim first to de-condition the learner in an effort to kindle an awareness of the harmful herd mentality ubiquitous in our society. We compare the ethics of being complicit with exploitative authority and social pressures, to staying true to one’s own moral compass, integrity and heart. Ultimately, we hope to embolden participants to courageously stand up for themselves and for those without a voice – even at the risk of alienation and unfair consequences.
First and foremost, at the foundation of our ENE philosophy, we learn to appreciate the art of mindfulness, graceful acquiescence and noble silence. In one sense, we believe strongly that learning to “love what is” and the practice of compassion and non-resistance is germane to peace, health and happiness for all. Once fully committed to this essential understructure, only then will we begin to examine how to earnestly tune into one’s heart and listen for indicators of when it might be more virtuous to move away from yielding acceptance and strategically embrace principled noncompliance and action, in an effort to advance humanism.
Finally, we cultivate the artistry of not only knowing when to make such an honorable calculated stand, but most importantly, how to do so in a manner most productive and positive, without shutting down dialogue. Together, we’ll learn that we can indeed practice poise, tact, self-control and respect for the opposition, while simultaneously keeping true to a sense of uncompromising audaciousness when confronting social injustice. Certainly a tricky tightrope to walk, yet an indispensable life skill and art form we hope to help participants hone and master.
Nine sessions build up to the tenth and final workshop where families, teachers and friends are invited to attend participants’ creative and poetic “speak out” orations that address two fundamental questions: “What type of adult do I wish to unfold into?” and “Do I wish to be accepted and seek approval or make an impact?”