We believe you can’t buy character–you have to go out into the world and actually accomplish something excellent and difficult and worthy of your own admiration. Social media and computer games? Don't make us laugh.

On the other hand, classic cars can be a monstrous means to this end: they’re a fascinating and frustrating and fabulous lifestyle–there’s always something wrong, and broken, and expensive, and fubar, and ugly… but when you ride around in the dream machine you restored or repaired with your own two hands on a sunny day spitting fire and eliciting smiles with the wind in your hair, all of life’s problems either seem laughable or a piece of cake.

A Bold Proposal

Here’s our bold proposal: an old-school vintage automobile restoration school, private and for-profit, in the same vein as the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS), eventually offering a 2-year Associate of Arts degree, based on the time-honored principles of hard work, discipline, perseverance, and quality. But the real objective of this school will be to instill an Emersonian self-reliance, a can-do attitude that will enable and inspire the students way beyond cars and carburetors, and help them find meaning and responsibility in their lives. Our ostensible goal will be a vibrant vocational and education center loosely based on a STEAM curriculum, but we’ll also tailor it to our own ends and sprinkle in some Shakespeare, classical history, economics, and great books. As a career path for young people, or for anyone interested in traditional and valuable life skills, this school will be open to and benefit everyone, from anywhere in the world, of all ages. 

Let's get started. 

We’ll start now, with what we have–weekday, and Saturday and Sunday classes in the basics: troubleshooting, engine repair and maintenance, simple body restoration. We’ll hire a local (or retired) mechanic, and bring in specialist guest instructors on an on-going basis. Eventually the Academy will become a comprehensive, 2-year, accredited AA degree. We’ll have classes year round, with rolling admission, but will limit each class to 10-12 students per instructor. Classes will be will be 5 days a week, with Saturdays and Sundays reserved for specialty courses and seasonal seminars. There will also be a separate, 10-week summer intensive course from mid-June to mid-August.

Of course, we’ll also make full use of all media, both traditional and on-line– computers will definitely play an important role in ensuring our beloved hobby is passed on to the next generation, but we think old school is best school–so cellphones won’t be allowed in classrooms, students will wear uniforms (coveralls), raise and lower the flag every day, and eat our meals together to encourage the pursuit of knowledge, humility, and esprit de corps. Epicurus and his fellow Greeks had it all figured out 2,000 year ago: well-bred, well-read, well-said. 

We'd like this to be a broad-based, hands-on education, and we'll bring in experts, educators, and success stories from every field of endeavor, starting with our local community, to teach specialty classes that will add depth and variety to the curriculum. Glass blowing, yacht-building, stone and scrimshaw carving, old-fashioned printing, and creative writing to name a few.

The Audacity Center

We think that this valuable education can be taken one step further–to encourage and reward an enterprising spirit–the hustle, hard work, and humor necessary to create real-world products and then building companies to bring these products to the marketplace. Simply: a hub for entrepreneurship. Our ostensible goal will be a vibrant incubator for new ideas and bold concepts, paired with some old-school expertise and hard-won experience, to launch start-ups that’ll then change the world, hopefully for the better of course. But the real goal is to instill a sober but fearless, independent, and problem-solving attitude in all the students. We will eventually have experts in the field as mentors and investors, but for now let’s start small–and challenge students to think beyond the immediate tasks at hand to bigger possibilities, do-able solutions. The ingredients are all here already: creative energy, technical know-how, the necessary equipment and machinery, and deep wells of enthusiasm.     

Related or not to cars, the ideas can be anything under the sun, but we think since there are so many high-tech incubators already out there, we should lean toward traditional and lower-tech (or a mix of high and low), e.g. a beautiful, hand-made tool chest that a student might want to market, or an automatic sandbagging machine to alleviate the back-breaking work of filling them by hand. Another idea: a diesel motor conversion kit that runs on soybeans–an environmentally friendly solution for millennials and Chinese food lovers everywhere. Kidding!

Doing well by doing good. 

We’ve always been community-focused, and we believe that giving back is a huge part of any successful venture. Miriam Russell Fleck, our Quaker grandmother, taught us “Doing well by doing good,” with sincerity and focus, is almost always better than just writing a check. We’d like to have fun fundraisers that are participatory and engaging for everyone, e.g. hosting a breast cancer charity to participate in one of our car rallies, where donors sponsor the car per mile, and follow it throughout the rally in real time. Or let’s organize a “A New Gold Standard” where we take a vintage VW Bug and give free stick-shift driving lessons. Donations of all kinds will be welcome: expertise, time, money, vehicles. Scholarships will be offered to qualified candidates. There are endless opportunities that are win-win for everyone, and a blast to boot. Let’s make this a global community with a common purpose, an exciting, tactile, curiosity adventure we can all go on together.

And more than that, let's be dauntless in our pursuit of truth and dare provocative questions: What do we see as the future of our education system? What does and will technology mean to us and our children? When do we pivot; when do we preserve and conserve? Who do we want to be? How do we help today’s passionate youth think outside the box and innovate solutions to make the 21st Century world a better, healthier, wiser place?

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