The Life of the Land







Study Methods

The four modules of The Life of the Land are organized around a set of study questions.  The goal of this method is to develop scientific problem-solving skills as part of the process of developing a knowledge of the students' bioregion.

We suggest that the best approach to each unit of study is to begin with the set of orienting questions.  The purpose of those questions is to encourage students to think first in terms of their own place in the world at the moment of doing their study.

Most students will find these questions between challenging and very difficult.  We expect most students (or most teachers) will not be able to give answers to these questions.  The test should not be graded but for the purpose of stimulating a spirit of questioning.

Next the teacher and students should work out together a plan for developing the answers to the questions.  This can be done in several ways.  One method would be to divide the class into small groups, each with a single question to work on.  Another would be to assign single questions to individual students.  We prefer small group assignments at this stage.

The main point at this stage is to determine how students can go about finding an answer.  They should consider library resources, local resources such as city offices or museums, or governmental agencies.  In many cases the best resources will be people residing in the community and students should be encouraged to discover those resources as well.

Once the appropriate sources of information have been identified the students should be asked to pursue the most practical ones first.  In some cases we anticipate that there may not be a good answer short of studying some major field of science for a significant period of one's life.  It is important for students to know the difference between a question that can be answered easily and one which requires a considerable investment of time and study.

This process will inevitably lead to the need to reformulate the questions and to pose new questions.  This task should be done together between teachers and students with the new questions incorporated into the materials made available for the next group of students.

The two most important points of this method are that students learn how to locate the information they need and that whatever they are able to learn is passed on to following students.  Both teachers and students should understand that in most cases there will be no 'right' answers to the questions or answers that will remain established for long because of continually changing conditions.



The Bioregional Studies component of the Axe Handle Academy consists of four modules.  In the original plan these four modules were just sketched out and never fully developed.  The links above will indicate the outlines of this component.




the academy

the curriculum


life of the land

comparative culture studies

responsive communication