Educational Philosophy Posts

Educational philosophy is at the core of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog. Posts are about teaching and learning bushcraft, as well as the woods life in general.

I am sitting in my tent home tonight struggling to figure out how to start this essay on adventure travel, more specifically one aspect that...shucks, lost it again.  The problem is I am picking through a gorpy mix of nuts and fruit and these bizarre white coated black bean things than I'm not sure if [...]

To learn new things is challenging. When you stay inside your comfort zone, not being challenged, you're probably not learning new things. This is fine if you want to refine things you already know, but to blaze new ground demands that you be outside of where you feel 100% safe. In the photo above, participants [...]

During the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, we want people to learn how to plan food and meals for an extended trip, starting with themselves and finishing with planning for a group. We also want them to learn how much water water they need on any given day in order to feel good and have their body [...]

I read some advice about choosing the right axe recently. I want to make a statement about choosing the wrong axe, or at least the closest axe. I’ve met young people who couldn’t afford a high-end axe and felt that their skills wouldn’t develop until they could. It’s not true. The path to axe mastery [...]

Being a lifelong learner, I’m of the belief that wherever you’re at, there is always room for improvement. Leading up to our 35th long-term course this spring, I’ve been seeking out additional training in order to become a better instructor. It's been an immensely enjoyable experience. In early March I spent a weekend at Amherst Archery [...]

The modern world we live in is a thin veneer stretched over the raw circumstance of our human condition. Countless interconnected pieces give us things like central heating, the internet, smartphones, tax forms, and countless other modern realities. Despite its many benefits, the veneer insulates us from the experience of life our forefathers knew. While [...]

Two quick stories. One. Last week I went to see a movie with my dad at a classic old fashioned and equally rural theater in northern Wisconsin. The day was a mix of heavy wet snow, sleet and temperatures probably near thirty, this is all vital info, trust me. When we sat down there looked [...]

A bunch of years back I gave a presentation on sustainability in outdoor education at the Wilderness Educators Association conference (Read our paper here: https://www.outdoored.com/articles/asap-20-sustainable-possible). Our small group was proposing a model to help improve and correct some of the environmental problems inherent with most modern outdoor pursuits (think burning white gas for camp stoves) while also harpooning [...]

As winter winds on and the snow piles up outside the windows of my small cabin, it is easy to appreciate the wonder of the natural world.  There is the ruffed grouse that scurries around the perimeter of my clearing, hiding in the shadows of the cedar and fir trees.  A red squirrel has taken [...]

A goal I’ve set for myself this year is to be mindful and grateful for what I’ve done and what I've got. My plan for doing so is to avoid hedonic adaptation. I first heard of this term in the book A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art Of Stoic Joy (great read, [...]

They're trickling in from far and wide. England arrived yesterday. Texas and Chicago tomorrow. Ohio, Connecticut and California on Thursday. New Hampshire is ready to go. Alberta and Montreal are meeting us on the road. In two days our small group (on the Jack Mountain calendar as the Subarctic Snowshoe Expedition With The Cree) is [...]

It's easy to make something that looks like a bucksaw frame, but it's much more difficult to make one that will cut a lot of wood without coming apart. It's easy to make something that looks like a snowshoe, but much more difficult to make one that will allow you to walk on it all [...]

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time playing street hockey during the warm seasons and pond hockey during the frozen one. As we were in New Hampshire, we all wanted to be players from the Boston Bruins. My brother would usually pretend he was Bobby Orr. I always liked the scrappy [...]

During the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester we do two-night solos where participants head into the forest alone with very minimal kit. For many people it isn't easy to unplug from the modern world and be alone with themselves. We can get so distracted with life, the internet and everything that our minds are almost never where [...]

Yesterday I was part of a conversation led by a man who runs a small academic program for homeschoolers. He was talking about the modern fascination with being able to measure learning when he mentioned that problem solving is not as important as problem finding. This got me thinking. Modern education puts a high value [...]

Humans are social animals. Put two of us together and we'll talk and talk, even if there's nothing useful to say. I believe a small part of this is human nature. We're social animals, and verbal communication is a foundational principle of how we organize in groups. But I think the vast majority of this [...]

There is a difference between knowing something for yourself versus having read it or heard it. That difference is characterized by experience and results, not faith and information. During the early weeks of the fall Wilderness Bushcraft Semester we do a lot of work with plants. As we traverse the landscape of Aroostook County, we [...]

Learning something new demands more action than details. More often than not, excessive details and information get in the way more than they help during the initial steps. In my opinion, only the minimum amount of information that leads to a successful outcome should be provided the first time someone learns something new or completes [...]

Over the past few months I've seen numerous blogs offering tips and tricks on bushcraft and survival. But tips and tricks will never take the place of practiced fundamentals; learning the correct technique, then doing it until it is second nature. The seemingly inexhaustible human desire for shortcuts keeps the search alive, but don't be [...]

There's a grace that comes with experience when form follows function. Simplicity is the goal. The more experienced one becomes, the less work is needed to complete a specific task. This is accomplished by eliminating the unnecessary. When using an axe to procure raw materials for basic needs from the forest, the more skilled and [...]

I woke up before dawn and watched the sun rise over Squapan ridge this morning. We've had a bunch of hot and humid weather, but a cold front came through yesterday afternoon and the overnight temperature was in the low 40's. This morning the sky is clear and there a hint of autumn in the [...]

There's a legendary story about the band Van Halen and their tour rider with concert venues from the 1970's and 80's that has to do with brown M&M's (the candy). Buried deep within the contract was a clause that they demanded to have M&M's backstage, but that someone had to go through and pick out [...]

Following up on yesterday's post, I'm currently reading a book called Discussion Based Online Teaching To Enhance Student Learning by Tisha Bender.  This year we're adding a distance learning component to our immersion programs, and I'm educating myself as to how to do it effectively.  More on this later.  Bender relays a story on page 38 [...]

I first met Mors Kochanski in 1995 at his place in Alberta. Over the years we've stayed in touch and I've learned much from his sage advice. Recently at Woodsmoke we were chatting when someone complained about being kept up late the night before. Mors responded with several great lines I'll never forget. I'm paraphrasing, [...]

We're adding two new certification programs to our list of courses to go along with the Journeyman course: the Expedition Instructor (XI) and Expedition Instructor Trainer (XIT). They exist as add-ons to our current yearlong immersion program. There are no extra courses that need to be taken, nor is there any extra tuition involved. There [...]

These two quotations from "The Art Of Outdoor Living" jumped out at me because what they say about experiential education and a realistic assessment of skill through a practical exam apply directly to our new Journeyman Bushcraft Instructor & Wilderness Guide Certification Program. Scroll to the bottom for full bibliographic information. "The training and preparation [...]

One of the new aspects we're building into our Journeyman Certification Course are skill and craft benchmarks. It's great to learn how to make new things. But, to attain even a basic skill level with them, they have to be completed a number of times. For example, on some of our courses students learn how [...]

It takes time to learn. For some things, this can be measured in minutes. For others, it's measured in decades. When we become enamoured with something, we often want to shorten the learning time so we can get to the point where we're respected for knowing it, where we're the celebrated "expert". So the temptation [...]

 


 

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Typos, Etc.
Note: Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device that demonstrates his writing prowess.

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