Something that I have seen over the past few years that gives me a good laugh is, yup, the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe it’s not the best of idioms to use here, but let me explain what I mean here in a minute. This has been, and is, quite a talked about topic in the Bushcraft and Survival communities. You can find it all over peoples blogs and even some websites ran by the “experts”. Not only can you find it in those places, but you can typically see it across social media on all levels by some of their followers, that stand fast on their guru being the only one who could be qualified.
So the topic you ask? It is people wanting to know what other’s credentials are with regards to teaching. Maybe more specifically, what qualifies them to be teaching Bushcraft or Survival skills. It seems nowadays, that if you haven’t been on television, or written a few books, that you couldn’t possibly have what it takes to teach this stuff. The television folks really crack me up. Get a bit of publicity, and they are somehow the voice and pinnacle of “Qualified Instructors”. To be put on television, and in most cases, in a scripted scenario, hardly makes you qualified in my book. Even if the scenarios are not scripted, it is still television and is strategically and professionally edited to get the intended outcome, drama. So do One thing cool, and you are an expert! The world probably didn’t see all the nonsense that was edited out. Now I’m not taking away from the fact that there have been some good shows, I like to watch them too. And some of these folks are pretty crafty and entertaining, but qualified to teach, or experts? I would beg to differ…..but that’s just me. I would say that makes them, at a minimum a celebrity perhaps, not the authority on teaching.
Upon leaving the TV scene, some of these folks have created schools, and profess to be the voice and reason of the two communities. Maybe they had schools before TV, though not hardly as successful as they would like you to believe, I can assure you. So now they have the public eye, and pitch to everyone how they are more qualified to teach this stuff than anyone else. Yet, they started just like everyone else. Their television experience has somehow put them at a higher level than you. While you were living it, doing research perhaps, practicing in the field and so on, they became far more experienced by shooting a television show? Again, I would tend to think otherwise, but that’s just me.
Writing a few books gets somewhat of the same effect as the television scene, though obviously not as much. So writing about your experiences, or doing research to write your own conglomeration of things also makes you an “expert”, or better than everyone else with regards, again, to teaching this stuff? Because you have written about the topics, makes your credentials to teach it, greater? I would tend to disagree here as well. I would say that makes you a writer, not the authority on teaching.
Newsflash, being on television or having written your own books does not make you a teacher or an authority on the matter when it comes to teaching Bushcraft or Survival skills. Being able to teach folks, in a way that allows them to grasp the information, and in such a way that they can then use it, or even teach it themselves, makes you a good teacher. Adding in that the information is relevant, accurate and promotes safety, would also be good to note.
So why does this happen? Well, there are a lot of reasons for this, but here are a few. Monetary competition, ego, marketing and the likes all play a big part in this, as well as trying to be the best out there (which is not entirely bad, but is when you have to knock others to try and do so). Being a “Legend” or “Expert”, aren’t tags that you can ever give yourself, they are given to you by others.
So I guess the short of the long is, worry about yourself and not what others are doing, or trying to do (wise words by my Mom some years ago). Don’t feel the need to bash or belittle other schools or folks for trying to do what you do, because you started out just like they did. I know a gentlemen who has done all of the above with regards to TV, books, has a Masters degree in education and more, but you never hear of any of that from him, and he has been successful for the last couple of decades, far longer than any of the newer, self-proclaimed experts.
Here is a great article that is worth your time and goes along with this pretty well: http://www.jackmtn.com/simplog/living-the-life/