First Learn How-To, Then Why

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 a new skill. Variables should be minimized in order to create a simple, straightforward path from starting to success, without dabbling into the myriad details that lie below the surface.

For example, if someone wants to learn to light a fire with one match in damp or wet conditions, I don’t give them a long lecture on the principles of fire. Instead I try to just explain the minimum they need to be successful; find dry wood, carve it into small pieces, etc. I also minimize the theory, telling and showing them only the practical steps they need to succeed. Then I stop and let them have the experience.

I want them to feel the heat of the flame, hear the popping of the fire and see the flames grow. They’re better teachers and motivators than words ever could be.

If they become interested in the process, there’s plenty of time down the line to dive into the minutia of physics, wood working, tree selection, etc., that is involved. By then, they’re driven by their own interest, and nothing could stop them from learning it. It’s a huge difference than telling them all this information up front (ie. lecture), and hoping they develop an interest on their own and are able to pull out the important bits to ensure success. By starting with the experience, when they do learn the background information they have a framework of practical experience into which they can add the theory.

To summarize, first learn the how-to. The why can follow after.

Educational Philosophy, General

Comments on this entry are closed.



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
· – Distance Learning
· – Lakeside Lodging
· JM Outfitters – The World’s Smallest Outfitter
· Jack Mountain Course Calendar

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.


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