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.

A lot of what we do in our bushcraft courses doesn't look like formal education. The old-school image of a standing instructor lecturing to seated students taking notes is a rarity. We have no love affair with seat time, nor with the lecture format. You're more likely to see a small group of people engaged [...]

We stopped using sandpaper for smoothing wood on field courses years ago. Sandpaper is sand, or grit, glued to a piece of paper in a thin layer. It doesn't last very long, which precludes it from being taken on long trips. A simple alternative is to take a piece of fabric (denim or cotton duct [...]

You learn to write by writing. It's a truism, but what makes it a truism is that it's true. The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis. - William Zinsser, from "On Writing", p.49. Is there anything you could switch writing [...]

When you're learning a new skill, it should be as simple as possible, broken down into its necessary elements and with as many details as possible stripped away. The focus should be on the minimum input needed for success. This is why many how-to books aimed at beginners fail; too much detail. On our bushcraft [...]

Taking a course does not make you an expert. You become an expert by investing enough time, energy and sweat to really learn something in depth.  How much time?  Malcom Gladwell, in his book Outliers, popularized the 10,000 hour rule; "The idea that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill."  [...]

I  have learned more about fungi from Paul Stamets's book Mycelium Running (Amazon.com link)  than any other resource.  While other books on mushrooms are often great field guides for identifying individual species, Stamets's book has helped me to understand the ecology and relationships of mushrooms.  I still have a long way to go, but I [...]

"Craft teaches our dependence upon the natural material world directly and practically - not as an abstraction." -  Zabe MacEachern, from her article Crafting as a practice of Relating to the Natural World in the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE), Vol 5, No 1 - 2000. Crafting is often seen as a way to [...]

My experience running 16 bushcraft and wilderness semester courses has taught me the value of taking a time-out from modern life and living more simply. I've seen the positive effect the experience has had on course participants. I know the effects it has had on me. Some of these include: Separating needs from wants. Living [...]

Can you train people for white water canoeing without them spending time in white water?  Is training without a realistic setting viable? I spent six years trying to get people ready for white water canoe poling and paddling by having them complete exercises on smooth water.  But when we got to the actual white water, [...]

I've been researching the role of crafting on the learning process recently.  There is a mountain of how-to information on crafting, but most of it on how-to-do things; the questions of why and what are the impacts are aren't as common.  Since crafting is one of the seven core elements of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft [...]

It takes a minimum of 100 miles to learn how to paddle a canoe It takes a minimum of 80 miles to learn how to pole a canoe It takes a minimum of 100 friction fires to learn how to consistently make a friction fire It takes a minimum of 50 percussion fires to learn [...]

Assessment exists for the student, not for the instructor. At their worst, assessment systems put students in a competition with their peers.  At their best, they provide a way for students to gauge their progress and to see how far they've come, give them an honest accounting of where their skills fit into the bigger [...]

Teaching bushcraft these days is as much about helping people to eliminate the extraneous as it is showing them something new. Put another way, it's as much carving as it is building. Much of what passes for common knowledge in bushcraft and outdoor living is fantasy, created and fed by poorly conceived books, movies and [...]

"Toddlers ask many questions, and so do school children - until about grade three.  By that time many of them have learned an unfortunate fact, that in school, it can be more important for self-protection to hide one's ignorance about a subject than to learn more about it, regardless of one's curiosity."    - Jan Hunt [...]

We've had some great discussions about how the brain works in the learning process as part of our ongoing online course on becoming an instructor.  One aspect that we've only touched on briefly is the role of exercise in the learning process.  To simplify a complex subject into a soundbite, exercise is good for your [...]

Nutshimit is a word and concept from the Innu.  Previously known by the name given to them by the French, Montagnais, they inhabit a huge, sparsely populated region of Quebec and Labrador. For many Innu, life in the village is marked by idleness and a sense of loss and alienation, in strong contrast to being [...]

TV survival shows are about hardships and risk. With background music to set the mood, the feeling of jeopardy hangs heavily over the host as s/he negotiates within an inch of his/her life. The danger makes it sexy. In the real world, bushcraft is much more about heritage and tradition rather than risk. The old [...]

Thinking about taking a semester off from college and spending it in the wilderness? If so, compare the different approaches of our program versus the large, corporate wilderness education companies. If you're looking for modern, high-tech outdoor education with programs on backpacking and mountaineering, then check them out. But if you're interested in building a [...]

As part of the online course we're running titled "Becoming A Bushcraft Instructor", we're currently reading the book "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind" by Guy Claxton. We've been enjoying many thoughtful discussions on teaching and learning and how they apply to bushcraft and the outdoors. This gem of a passage is from near the end of [...]

I was discussing bushcraft on Saturday and trying to explain it to someone whose life experience has been all in urban areas. In discussing life at our field school, I explained that it was just like life anywhere else, except without the infrastructure. I thought about this for a while after the conversation ended, and [...]

I've never looked the part. Most people never do. We're TBH (trained by hollywood) that people who do certain things should look a certain way. After all, that's how they look in the movies. But it's a big lie. My high school soccer coach was adamant about people not using their appearance to stand out. [...]

Our educational system has become increasingly abstract over the last hundred years.  Instead of instruction in sensory development and hands-on skills, we focus almost exclusively on the intellectual and the abstract.  Much of this is the result of the influence of Jean Piaget and his stage theory of cognitive development from the 1920's.  He viewed [...]

There's a difference between outdoor leadership and management.  Management is when you ensure people carry out predetermined tasks leading to a defined outcome.  Managers aren't looking for innovation.  They're there to ensure things get done according to a preexisting plan.  When we're cooking a group dinner over a campfire in a remote location, we often [...]

We've been fielding a lot of questions about our yearlong program lately.  Several people over the weekend wanted to know if students live on-site for the entire year.  The answer is no, they don't.  The program is organized around three intensives: the fall semester, the winter program, and the spring expedition.  For graduates, there is [...]

I was recently interviewed by Iain Haywood at ooh.com.  You can read the piece here.  In addition to some nice photos of Ernie Davis and David Bosum, I'm quoted on educational philosophy: "At its best, teaching should be invisible; a person who learns from a mediocre instructor will realize how talented their instructor is. The [...]

I had the opportunity to do some reading and enjoy some spirited discussions on our recent trip to northern Quebec. One of the topics that kept coming up was the lack of decent terminology in english for the simple, outdoor lifestyle based on skill, simple tools and a relationship with the land and it's resources. [...]

 


 

Our Sites
· JMB Field School – Long-Term Immersion: Semester & Expedition Programs
· JMB Trips – Classic Wilderness Guiding By Canoe & Snowshoe
· JMB Folk School – Short Courses, Crafts & Lodge-Based Programs
· School Of The Forest – Teen & Youth Programs
· JM Outfitters – The World’s Smallest Outfitter
· JMB Master Calendar – Complete List Of Scheduled Programs

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.

RSS
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://blog.jackmtn.com/category/educational-philosophy/page/2/
YouTube
YouTube
Instagram

Our Email List
Join our email list; it’s the best way to keep up with what we’re up to. We promise to never fill your inbox with junk and we never share or sell your information. We value your time and privacy. We won’t abuse either of them. More Info.


Featured In:
Jack Mountain Bushcraft Media Appearances Image

Life Member – MPGA
mpga graphic
Life Member – MWGO
mwgo graphic