Rick's Journal

Monday, January 25, 2010

Are you Experienced?

No, I am not doing a Jimmy Hendrix post here, people. This is much more important! The topic, in short, is about experience. Skills Experience. Community Experience. Nature Awareness Experience. Gathering Experience, and well, you get the idea.

When I started Hawk Circle, I remember thinking about how important it was to me to include not only the time dedicated to teaching a new skill, such as tipi fire building, or throwing sticks, but practice time. Dedicated, experience building practice. Time for trouble-shooting, problem solving, sharing with each other about what works and what doesn't, as well as time for students to talk to myself or the instructors for help or inspiration.

When I first learned a lot of these skills, I was at the Tracker School, or some other workshop, and time was often of the essence. Meaning there wasn't much time at all. We often spent our time taking notes, talking about skills or techniques, and learning through lecture and white board drawings rather than in the field, feet on the g
round experience. It was more along the lines of 70% Lecture-30% Field Work.

This might not seem that significant, and I am not saying I had a problem with it during my study. I had a lot of previous field experience, using hand tools like hatchets, axes, saws, chisels and more. I already knew how to pitch a tent in the dark, or travel off trail, or work on projects from simple sketches and outlines and make them work.

However, I was an adult at the time of my training and I had grown up in a number of rural areas. I split firewood all summer (by hand) for the winter, as we heated by wood stove, and that was how I learned my trees. It was a great way to learn but it took a long time, too.

Today's average student or camper don't have that breadth of rural living experience, so when they come into a camp or program, often they don't know their knots, trees, or knife carving skills. Their hands aren't used to holding hand tools, or twisting plant fibers into rope or string. This isn't a bad thing, really, it is just something that we have to keep in mind, today more than ever.

I set up Hawk Circle so each program focused on learning that is approximately 80% skills, or direct hands-on learning, and 20% lecture/story/classroom time. This means we might not be able to cover as many skills, but that the skills we do teach, students will leave with a real, working knowledge. Which means they can actually do those skills! (Isn't that the whole point?)

Beyond this post, my question to you is this: What does it take to get experience? Where do you practice? When do you find time to practice, to hone and refine and 'make your own' for fire-making, tracking, carving, or crafting? There are so many things that compete for our attention, for all of those precious specks of sand that pour from the hourglass of our lives!

If you have something that works for you, post and let us know about it. If you don't, and you need help, add that too. Thanks. We are all in this together.....