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Learning at its Best, Philosophical Meanderings

Of Education, Learning, School and the School of Life

After spending (much too much) time with the written words of such ilk as Plato, William James, C.S. Lewis, Focault, Derrida and others,  I decided to attend a one and one-half week seminar at an ‘alternative ed’ school — I went camping with the Indians.

They have been running their school for many generations. In a manner that parallels, but is not identical to the education-system-today-in-the-West they are thankful for those who maintained their school system over the generations. They name and respectf those who refused to give up and shut down their schools, who persevered despite: Being ‘defeated’ and removed to Reservations (why was Adolf Hitler fascinated by the Reservations?); The Mankato 38 (thanks to Abraham Lincoln, who ‘freed’ the slaves); and, near-total annhiliation of their culture, language and people (for some, The Apocalypse has come-and-gone).

They have their own Socrates, their own Horace Mann, their own John Dewey and their own Sir Ken and they recognize someone/thing preceded those individuals.

After being with them a while, they made a few cryptic remarks and left me alone for an individualized educational experience. The Curriculum was:

Dark Matter


The Lesson Plan:

One of the classrooms (Sweat Lodge):

Windigokan was one of  the teacher’s aide that showed up…

Having met several Natives who intuitively grasp and express the concepts of Dark Matter and Dark Energy without the benefit of ‘formal’ education, learning or schools I know that these concepts can be, and have been extrapolated from, by and/or through matters that the images depicted above suggest and further, I know such alterative vehicles allow for passing these concepts from one to another.

The foregoing images and concepts decidedly differ from those that turned up through a Google Image search of certain words and phrases. Since Google caters to the Western World’s cultural framework the images disclosed did not surprise me, but I was a bit troubled that the images seemed overly tied to brick-and-mortar locales, credentials, and geometric and verbal hierarchies of education, learning and school. EducationLearningSchool and the School of Life, it seems, does not mean the same thing to everyone.


About Brent Snavely

A construct of upbringing and society, holder of a BS. JD and an MA, I have practiced law more than 25 years. "The Truth shall set you free", but only if it is a Personal Truth that is based upon facts. Parrhesia may be humankind's only hope (see,


4 thoughts on “Of Education, Learning, School and the School of Life

  1. It’s difficult to imagine US public schools admitting other kinds of teaching and learning exist outside the system’s collective colonial agenda, but, clearly, I – as a teacher – could and should be doing more than I am to involve students and their ways of knowing and being. I’m fascinated and coming off a weekend in which I finished a book that taught me a lot because I could think about it without being told its answers.

    So I will keep thinking here, too.

    Thanks, Brent –

    Posted by Chad Sansing | May 14, 2012, 6:11 am
    • Chad, for whatever reason, images of Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead and Joseph Campbell flash through my head. Not one of them were credentialled in quite the manner we expect ‘students’ to become today and yet they were forerunners and progenitors of some amazing lines of thoughts, of astounding progress… perhaps they were imbued with the spirit of “White” culture’s Windigkan for they certainly lived and thought in in the alterative ways of Non-flight Contraires.

      I think it clear that top-down, standardized education produces manageable citizens (perhaps ‘tractable’ is more descriptive). Were trustworthy individuals at the helm (apply your own judgments here) that might not be a particularly bad end-result, but the USA seems to have gotten itself into a significant jamb and a true need for alterative thinkers and doers exists.

      I am unable to envision more ‘standards’ as producing alternate results and ponder how we, the adults, might enable youths to unleash the feral ‘newness’ that exists within them as human beings.


      Posted by Brent Snavely | May 14, 2012, 7:00 am


  1. Pingback: Of Education, Learning, School and the School of Life via @shellterrell « juandon. Innovación y conocimiento - May 13, 2012

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