The Academy:  rationale and theory


How do you shape an axe handle?
Without an axe it can't be done.
How do you take a wife?
Without a go-between you can't get one.
Shape a handle, shape a handle
the pattern is not far off.

- Shi Jing





Focus:  the teacher

Heart:  communication

Measure:  cooperative competence

Purpose:  enlarging the future



Enlarging the future is the purpose of the Axe Handle Academy

In the Axe Handle Academy we emphasize preparation of our students for a future that we cannot know by giving them a solid understanding of their place on the earth, their place and identity in society, and the ability to listen, observe, reflect and then communicate effectively with others.

Nearly everyone would say that the purpose of education is to prepare students for the world they will enter upon graduation.  We all want students to have the knowledge and skills they will need to be mature, competent adults who have a range of options in employment or careers and who will be responsible, productive citizens.  Over the years, however, we have slowly drifted from preparation to planning.

Planning is our most frequent defense against the unknown future.  It gives us a sense of security and a sense that we are doing the best we can to be ready for what comes.  Unfortunately, planning is really a way of limiting our imagination of the future.  A plan limits our responses to predicted outcomes.  With a plan we seek to control outcomes, to eliminate change, to eliminate the random and the wild.  Our plans for the future dictate our current choices.  A plan exercises an abstract power on the present by limiting our imagination of the options to those considered by our plan.

Preparing is different.  In preparing we always expect diversity of outcomes.  In preparing we assume we do not know or cannot predict what future conditions will be.  In preparing we enlarge the future in our own imagination.

Both in planning and in preparing we look to the future, but in planning we seek to restrict the future, in preparing we seek to make ourselves ready.  In planning we express our belief in our reason and our ability to control outcomes, people, technology.  In preparing we express out belief in our adaptability, our responsiveness. our willingness to accept what comes.


the academy

the curriculum


life of the land

comparative culture studies

responsive communication