In the late 1950s, the New School for Social Research was one of the most progressive universities in the United States. But even by the institution’s innovative standards, John Cage tested the administration’s commitment to experimental learning. Cage was notorious for his radically innovative music, which challenged conventional ideas about harmony and composition. (He rejected the former and approached the latter with chance operations.) The New School employed him to instill this creative rebelliousness in students. When he proposed to teach a class on mushroom foraging, though, the university was nonplussed.