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Learning something new

November 24, 2015

A Joy or a chore? 

That rather depends on how steep that mountain is perceived to be eh?

I was blessed for a while to be able to live and work in the most astonishing place – up on the Brecon Beacons. Several times a year we gathered great flocks of sheep off the hills, and just for fun instead of work, we trained for search and rescue on the same hills.

photo Jeremy Bolwell

These hills were curved, pudding shaped, what you thought was the top often deceived you as you approached the false summit to realise you had only survived the first 25%. The rest of the hill was out of sight.

Hay Bluff, Black Mountain and The Offa's Dyke path from Capel-y-ffin

Hay Bluff, Black Mountain and The Offa’s Dyke path from Capel-y-ffin. Photo: Martin Mackey (3)

At times we traveled to North Wales and, for fun remember, stomped up and down the sides of Snowdon. Scared the crap out me – the top was always on view (weather permitting), hostile and far too far away.

Quite oddly the Snowdon guys used to feel most uncomfortable on the grass slopes of the Brecons – aka The Ankle breakers!

Learning something new can present us with motivating challenges or hostile threats. The threats can be felt because we are presented with an overwhelming amount of stuff. The peak of Snowdon for the lone traveler, unfamiliar with the territory or the easier routes, can resist the experience. But accompanied by regular climbers the journey can be mutually enjoyed and achievement shared.

One day trip to Snowdon we were faced with a quite evil route dropping off steeply on both sides. This did not fill me with confidence since I was under tow of an enthusiastic Gordon and I spent most of my time with my head focused on the next stone in front of me. But when one of my companions started to point out the small vegetation, microscopically hiding for self preservation, the journey started to change. We did make the summit, slept over night with Gordon firmly tied to me and enjoyed a dawn of all dawns, then the clag came down and we descended in cloud for the next 5 hours!

Depending on our comfort zones – somewhere between pure academia or pure practical we find ourselves learning something new. An academic can explain in language we do not understand (for me that hostile Snowdon landscape) but find a common interest that brings the journey alive. The practitioner full of skills and experience can see more than ankle breaking grass slopes and teach those easy step techniques that hill shepherds have learned over hundreds of miles.

All our teachers need to remember to turn around and enjoy the views – point out the achievements, see the geography, explain the geology and try to understand the behaviour of sheep!

Whichever hill or mountain you decided to climb, keep your feet in touch with the point of the journey. It is not about getting to the top – that may be a bonus, but keeping yourself mentally fit, taking a side track to look at a waterfall, feel the Roman paved road under your feet and learn something you did not think you would learn.

Come learn with us:

January Training  Thoughtfully: Jesus, Alex and I will begin with a topic, but most likely it will side track to a waterfall. We will all stand around, take pictures, ask questions, taste the water, sit under the Mountain Ash tree, have a sandwich and tea from a flask. Learning will happen.

Often it takes one small nugget of information that can shift the bedrock of your training and everything takes on a slightly different perspective. New thoughts come into view, the horizons comes a bit closer, and underneath that pebble that you have just knocked is a micro-fern.

More details on the topics:

January also begins the two-year online course. This may be your Snowdon, but the journey will be traveled with wonderful companions.

One of this year’s students sums it up:

I had a long drive today and was thinking about how much I am enjoying this course.( I started by really puzzling and struggling to think of a better way to teach poorly paw) I am enjoying how much it is pushing me to think through the topics at hand. Think and re-think, take in and ponder all of the generous comments and videos. It is not easy, but so different and so much more fulfilling than classes that teach a formula, or “how to”.  It feels so luxurious to have the time to thoughtfully experiment. I feel like I am slowly building a scaffolding of understanding which underpins all of my training.

I am rather amazed that this all has taken place in this “Moodle world”.  Although it would be most wonderful to be able to meet in person…when I see each of your names and posts I do feel that I have come to know you and your terrific dogs

Enrollment and more info on the online course. Christmas Gifts can arrive as learning packages – education is never wasted!

If you are attracted to learning-mountains take a good map along with you. Research your possible routes and options, meet fellow travelers and make sure they want to share the journey at your speed and will enjoy stopping and looking at the view. I do not remember any pleasure from the days of climbing hills with the super fit speed merchants that only wanted to get to the top first.

The type of mountain you take on is your choice, be comfortable with the learning style, walking or climbing or a mixture of both, a sense of achievement should be guaranteed.

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