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’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 [...]

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 [...]

Our first online course, titled “Becoming A Bushcraft Instructor,”, has been a great experience thus far. We’ve had some thoughtful discussions about our first book, Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, which examines how the brain processes information. I’ve been learning a lot from the discussion. As a sample, below is a post from Russ Venditto on [...]

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. [...]

Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson wrote that “adventure is a sign of incompetence.”  But if it isn’t for adventure, why do people do the things they do?  I’m with Stefansson on adventure.  It implies that you’re not prepared for what you face, which, in the case of living a life outdoors, should never be the case.  [...]

The number of primitive skills and survival schools has swelled in the last few years, and while all schools are not created equal there are many opportunities to learn wilderness skills these days.  It’s important to be clear about what we do because it’s different than what’s available elsewhere.  Yes, we teach skills.  We’re among [...]

We went out on a family tracking walk yesterday.  The snow was perfect and there were all sorts of tracks for my son to investigate.  It’s fun being outside with him and seeing the landscape through his eyes.  One of the neat things we can learn from children is the idea of vu-ja-de.  It’s the [...]

I saw an ad for a college today and in the photo they had as their centerpiece was a student in a lecture hall looking toward the front and acting interested. That’s a negative for me. I remember sitting through a bunch of lectures, some great, some not, but what I took away from the [...]

I’ve taken a wide variety of wilderness medical courses around the northeast. In 2000, I took a winter medicine and rescue course at the AMC center in Pinkham Notch at the base of Mount Washington. It was a two-day course, and on many nights they have slide show presentations for the people staying there. The [...]

Last summer I guided a trip to northern Quebec where we spent a week with Cree guides David Bosum and Lawrence Capissit. They were born in the bush and have spent their lives living off of the country there. One day one of guys on the trip was asking David some questions about winter trips. [...]

“Having done is worth more than having read, having watched, or knowing how.” I was thinking about experiential learning yesterday when the line above came to me. I think it will be our slogan for 2008. We live in the era where information is everywhere. But we should never confuse familiarity with understanding or experience. [...]

I had a professor in graduate school who said that we decide how the world works by the time we’re two and a half years old, and we spend the rest of our lives justifying and defending that idea. It’s a concept that keeps coming up and makes me think about what I believe and [...]

I spend a lot of time thinking about the teaching process in preparation for our courses. Years of doing so have led me to believe that there are many things that can be learned, but not directly taught. An example of this took place the other night when some of the participants in our winter [...]

A guy called me yesterday with questions about our Summer Survival Weekend Course. We spoke for several minutes about what the course covers, what he could expect, and other related topics. Then said he had a question about religion. He asked if we incorporated spiritual teachings or Native American ceremonies in the course. I immediately [...]

 


 

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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.

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