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.

This past weekend we wrapped up our 21st long-term immersion program. When we started in August I had big plans about blogging every day, but the realities of field school life intervened and I only posted twice during the course. There were lots of great moments, from the weasel who lived under my tent and [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

If you eat a great meal at a restaurant, is the type of spatula the cook used responsible for the taste of the food? If you see a beautiful house, how important is the type of hammer the builder used to the final structure? If someone has a beautiful website, do you ask them what [...]

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 [...]

I’ve been thinking for several years about putting together an expedition-style course for young men where we’d spend three or four weeks in the north woods canoeing and living outdoors.  It would be a similar, although less rigorous, curriculum that we use in our college semester programs, with a focus on academic subjects such as [...]

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 [...]

 


 

Web Sites
· JMB Field School – Long-Term Immersion: Semester & Expedition Programs. GI Bill & College Credit.
· Classic Wilderness Guiding – Canoe, Snowshoe & Sea Kayak Trips
· JMB Folk School – Lodge-Based Programs & Short Courses
· School Of The Forest – Teen & Youth Programs
· BushcraftSchool.com – Online & Distance Learning
· JMBS Master Calendar – All 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 demonstrating prodigious artistic prowess.

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

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
1 2 3