Get Ready for Paideia 2020

This year’s czars are excited for a festival full of teaching, learning, and exploring new ideas

Make your way back to campus this coming January if you don’t want to miss out on Reed’s annual Paideia festival, a week long celebration of community engagement that promotes the exploration of interest through the spread of knowledge. This age-old tradition is a key element of Reed culture that aims to promote a safe environment for all members of the community to express their passions and engage in curious inquiry. The time and energy needed to pursue individual interests tend to get lost in the chaos of the school year, but Paideia creates a space for these interests to thrive. 

Paideia comes from the Greek word Παιδεία that denotes education in its broadest sense. In ancient Greece, paideia referred to a system of education provided to the elite members of the polis that promoted intellectual, moral, and physical refinement as well as proper socialization. Typical subjects that were included in this aristocratic rearing process were philosophy, poetry, mathematics, physics, rhetoric, gymnastics, music, and medicine — all of which contributed to achieving the highest standards of ‘beauty’ and ‘the good.’ Although Reed’s representation of this tradition mirrors similar values of knowledge and creativity, our community reaches this conclusion by mode of a more holistically accepting route. This festival aims to include all members of the community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, who are allowed and encouraged to participate in any way they desire. This adapted structure allows for the significant reversal of roles between students and teachers that recognizes the importance of education unobstructed by the implications of an uneven power system. Students and peers become valuable sources of knowledge that offer new insights to each other in an environment with less stress than the conventional and serious classroom. 

Paideia Czar Nitya Vikrant explained the significance of the event by stating that “it means I get to remove the pressure out of learning — oftentimes the sentiment I feel in a classroom — and enjoy the experience of learning in its truest sense.” This distinctive structure makes for an environment in which students feel safe to make mistakes and develop meaningful relationships with their peers in a new context. Additionally, this tradition provides both the time and resources that are needed to be able to meaningfully explore your interests and share your findings in such a way that isn’t available in the typical classroom setting. 

Paideia this year will run from Saturday, January 18 to Sunday, January 26, so be sure to participate, get involved, and get to know your peers in a new and exciting context. The festival features hundreds of hands-on workshops on a diverse range of topics. The Paideia czars stated that, “like every year, there will be many new classes and new students who are sharing their talents and skills with the community” — so there’s bound to be something that’ll intrigue you! Additionally, the Paideia Committee is working to bring artists on campus to perform, and they encourage artists that are interested in performing at paideia to get in contact with the committee. For anyone interested in teaching a class, contact info and the application can be found on the paideia website at

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