The traditional view of knowledge, as I have discussed before in this blog, is that there is an expert who gives knowledge to the rest of us. I take serious issue with this. One important flaw I see in this system is the idea of ownership over ideas, as if some ideas are more original than others and thus owned by that person. To me, this is the least productive way we can think about ideas. I believe in no uncertain terms that knowledge should be shared. If knowledge is shared, it is built upon and improved. Sure, we may pay that person for their knowledge because we live in a society where this has to happen sometimes, but with the understanding that we appreciate their unique location in the world and the knowledge this provides, not that that person is above everyone else in their knowledge.
This is why I believe so strongly in student directed learning. I have created a group (3R Friends) on Facebook that many of you are a part of. I facilitate the group by monitoring and occasionally prompting conversation, but I work hard not to comment as a teacher. That’s what this blog and my own Three Rivers Facebook page is for. I do this because I believe that ideas that are produced through organic discovery, whether sitting on our couch, talking to our peers or those who inspire us, working with our horses or reading a completely unrelated book, are the most effective and best incorporated into our actual practice because they are truly ours, not gifted to us by someone else.
Where this takes me is back to the idea of the ownership of knowledge. I think to appreciate student directed learning one must give up the common belief that certain people come up with an idea, and that idea is unique to them. This is really hard in a culture where ideas seem to magically appear at some geniuses doorstep and the rest of us just hang out and wait for them to write a book! I just don’t think that’s how it happens. Ideas come from infusing and intersecting a million ideas before them and eventually they consolidate into something useful to that particular person, and maybe to the world. So, twenty different people could come up with that same useful idea at twenty different times using entirely different sets of knowledges.
I’m certain that some of the ideas I have about horses come directly from horse people I’ve encountered in my life. Some techniques I use are literal replications of the lessons I’ve taken, the conversations I’ve had, or the things I’ve read from these trainers. I also know that some of my horsemanship comes directly from an interaction with a horse I’m working or an experience while teaching a lesson. But, I know that just as much of my horsemanship comes from sources outside the horse world. From teachers of other sorts besides horseman, to books I’ve read, to the latest podcast I listened to or movie I watched, we are all a culmination of our experiences. And most of the time it is impossible to separate these influences and determine a pure lineage for each piece of knowledge. Yet, I bet some of the ideas I’ve formed on my own, through synthesizing ideas from every corner of my life and implementing them in the round pen, probably mirror ideas of other horse people that got there in a totally different way, and I think they may even have more meaning to me because they came from me, not from a teacher.
I hope that if you take anything from reading this blog it is that you don’t need someone to tell you exactly what to do all the time. It doesn’t matter if your horsemanship was inspired by Ray Hunt or Beyonce, if you feel like you and your horse get along better because of it, it is valid. I hope that you will all join the 3R Friends Facebook group conversation in between discussing things in person and really value the ideas that appear through these dialogues. The next time you are listening to your favorite podcast and have a wild and crazy idea about how it relates to your horse, go with it! Think that idea through and then see where it takes you. Just because you didn’t learn it from a horsey guru doesn’t mean it won’t work.