School of Living

Chapter 7 © Bill Sharp April 1, 2020

Upon Borsodi leaving Dayton in mid-July 1934 after a year of working with them to develop homesteading communities, it took him just two months to establish the School of Living.  As he pondered why the Dayton project had gone off the tracks, he asked how and why the homesteaders could make such an obvious error in judgment by letting the government take over the project?  Why did the leaders of the program, who originally sided with him, back down in the face of government domination?  I believe he felt of greater importance was the overall lack of a sense of the essential mission of homesteading – local self-reliance.  His position was clearly justified by the course of the failed government takeover of subsistence homesteading across the country.  
Borsodi left Dayton just a little more than 14 years following the establishment of his family homestead.  He had accomplished a lot before and since that flight from the city in 1920.  This next phase of his life would occupy another 15 years, starting with the founding of the School of Living on September 3, 1934, and formal incorporation in New York (October 9, 1935).  Management of the School was given to nine regents, three elected each year.  Borsodi was listed as Chancellor and Lecturer.  Other staff included Robert E. Toms, Dean and Instructor; Agnes J. Toms, Association Dean and Instructor; Edward M. Borsodi, Bursar; Emma Munsell, Clerk and Librarian; and Helen Matoske, Registrar.  

A Philosophy of the Good Life

Borsodi often said that what we most need is a philosophy to guide the way we live our lives.  For Borsodi, that philosophy grew out of reading, participation with the Georgist movement, and engagement with a growing network of leading minds.  In part, where Borsodi’s philosophy was going can be found in the Jeffersonian ideal, which was both an agrarian and an educational ideal.  Jefferson believed that a free, self-sufficient people must be educated, and that society would be guided by those with a knack for both learning and for leading.  He, and many of the other Founding Fathers, exemplified this ideal.  
Borsodi advocated personal independence and economic self-sufficiency – in short, personal freedom.  Was that ideal something the Dayton homesteaders wanted?  Freedom comes at a high cost.  Were they willing to work for it?  Or did they just want relief – for which they would pay with dependency.  Borsodi concluded that they were poorly informed; they lacked the adequate education to make the thoughtful decisions agrarian democracy mandates.  
Borsodi well knew that the public would not readily accept sweeping changes.  He had already documented the barriers he saw to the acceptance of social innovation.  At the root of the change process would have to be systematic education and leadership development.  
In Flight From the City published in late 1933, Borsodi stated that many had responded to This Ugly Civilization; that they wanted to return to the land.  He also showed the mass migration from farm to city that had occurred with a table of population numbers from 1910 to 1933.  This, he knew, was due in no small part to industrialization.  He observed that people were dissatisfied with both rural and with urban living.  He proposed a middle way – the family homestead near large cities – a dual life in the garden and in the office or factory or personal craft, trade or business.  
He believed that the Great Depression, an economic crisis, was a symptom of the age, that it marked a transitional period.  
“Industrial civilization is either on the verge of collapse or of rebirth on a new social basis.  Men and women who desire to escape from dependence upon the present industrial system and so have no desire to substitute for it dependence upon a state controlled system, are beginning to experiment with a way of living which is neither city life nor farm life, but which is an effort to combine the advantages and to escape the disadvantages of both.”  
Flight From the City was a handbook for homesteaders produced at Borsodi’s publishers request.  It received good reviews from the New York Times, Cincinnati Enquirer, Boston Transcript, and The Nation.  It was also a blueprint for building an alternative culture.  In the prelude to the first edition he noted that the Dayton homesteading project had been in progress for nearly a year, “a sociological experiment of far-reaching significance.”  That theme was further developed in the “Introduction” to the second, 1935, edition.
The focus is clearly decentralism, and it is important to note that this was a term carefully chosen by Borsodi.  As we will see below, there was a strong “distributist” movement in the country which Borsodi was part of.  It originated in Great Britain but likely had roots in Henry George (George was extremely popular in Europe).  Borsodi further developed that idea and gave it a context more appropriate to emerging conditions.  Chapter 11 describes this movement. 
Distributionism, or decentralization, was in part about getting people back to the land.  It was about restoring the family farm, family production of its needs, and agrarian roots and tradition.  Borsodi exemplified this ideal.  In This Ugly Civilization he made it clear that we need to end centralization of industry, economy, government; education and even religion.  Flight From the City described how families could break the cycle and achieve the security that had been lost in both the cities and countryside. And he demonstrated how his family did that. 
Borsodi emphasized that this movement wasn’t just people seeking escape and going back to a simpler life; it is “a conscious and planned movement” that requires “distinguished leaders in education” and with that he introduced “schools of living.”  In the second edition he announced that the first such School of Living had been formed “this winter in connection with a homestead project near New York City at Suffern, New York.”  He outlined the purpose of the school:
·      To associate a select group of artists, craftsman and teachers in a demonstration of the contribution which decentralized, self-sufficient living in the country may make to redress the economic and psychological insecurity of our industrialized civilization
·      To study and develop the possibilities of the home and homestead as a productive and creative institution
·      To furnish to men and women the opportunity to follow a carefully developed plan of learning and experiences in living securely, comfortably and richly and in leading others to live equally well
·      To offer those who may be able to come for short visits only a place to see and study the relationship of homesteading and domestic produce:
o   To the past, present and future
o   To our present industrialized, centralized, organized, political society; and
o   To make life more meaningful to themselves here and now.
This statement was also published in an article in the January 1935 issue of Progressive Education, four months after the founding of the School of Living.


Borsodi acquired a farmhouse, named Kikiat, just north of his homestead.  It was remodeled to provide a meeting room and library, and books were moved there from Dogwoods.  On September 3, 1934, 40 people first met at Kikiat to open the School of Living.  Gathering in a circle outside they transplanted a tree from Dogwoods.  Mildred Loomis reported the dedication (and this became the motto of the School of Living): “Let this tree,” said Borsodi, “be a symbol of life and living.”  His son added: “Let a tree of life be the emblem of the School of Living.”  Myrtle Mae spoke next: “Let the tree remind us the Creation dignifies labor, justifies suffering and gives significance to life.”  A tree has been the symbol of the School of Living from that beginning, and there was a tapestry of the tree of living, possibly woven on the Borsodi loom, from that time which followed Mildred to Lane’s end and then to Heathcote where it was, unfortunately, lost.  Over the years the image of the tree changed a number of times until it became a rather new age symbol.  
Like many abstractions, the original meaning was lost.  That symbol, of course, is an ancient symbol which goes back to the Garden of Eden in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Jung had his representation of the tree of life.  So did J.R.R. Tolkien.  The resemblance of theirs to the original School of Living tree is striking.  
The dogwood itself is symbolic.  It flowers early and heralds the spring, a season of new life, of rebirth.  Borsodi’s tapestry appears to represent the branches of how the universal problems unite to the trunk, an integral system, and with deep roots in the accumulated wisdom of humankind.  Bayard Lane

In his 1935 “Introduction” to Flight From the City, Borsodi made it clear about the pursuit of what he called “homestead colonization.”  Referencing the Dayton experiment, each “unit” was to average 40 families.  Perhaps a better word would have been “community.”  But the necessary community was difficult to achieve, in no small part the result of federalization of the project in the Spring of 1934 by Interior Secretary Harold Ickes.  Borsodi expressed his skepticism that homestead projects could be established by political means.  This statement gives an important perspective about how the School of Living program was to progress.
In 1935 Borsodi founded his first private land trust homesteading community at Bayard Lane near Suffern.  He acquired 40 acres of land divided into two-acre homesteading sites.  That year construction of the first of sixteen homes was begun. 
In 1936 he built the headquarters of the School of Living in the middle of the development.  It had four acres of land for gardening and recreational activity.  The staff raised most of their own food and conducted other productive activities.  It had a meeting room, library and office, a modern kitchen, and dormitory space upstairs for eight people.

Borsodi firmly believed that we must make education, in the pure meaning of the term – to bring out our true potential – the center of each of our lives.  It is also part of what I would call Borsodi’s triptych:
1.     He proposed a learning institution, the School of Living, which promotes adult, problem-centered education where people could draw on the accumulated wisdom of our species, develop critical thinking and form character.  The School of Living is the central feature of the community
2.     He placed the School of Living at the center of a community, a small, collaborative community, which provides collective security
3.     In order to break the shackles of economic thralldom, each family of the community must achieve financial independence.  This is achieved through the homestead.
These three principles are the heart and soul of the School of Living, as they are the heart and soul of American democracy.  It was in the formation of the American Republic that these principles were first actualized, or at least tried.  But from the start there were countervailing political forces.  Over the course of now more than two centuries, thoughtful men and women have struggled to keep those traditional principles alive.  On the balance, in this 21st century, we are losing ground at an alarming rate.  This is an apocalyptic time, but in that old literature we are called to stand firm for our humanity.
The homesteading community and the School of Living are not two separate things.  The idea of two sides of a coin is almost an understatement in describing the intimate association between these two seminal ideas.  The model is an evolutionary development of the ingredients of an ideal democratic society that goes back to Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson and about which Emerson had much to say.  Jefferson believed that a self-governing people must be well-educated, up to date on events, critical in their thinking and proficient in dialog and collective decision-making.  Emerson wrote and spoke extensively about the creation of a noble character through focused learning, living on the land and pursuit of the ideals that define our humanity.  (We could add Whitman’s poetry to this list.)  Borsodi synthesized these great ideas, and others from the classics and the East, into a very practical and modern arrangement.
And who are the leaders of the School of Living homesteading community?  The answer is teachers.  The teachers are not necessarily college-educated professionals but local men and women who through a life of study and living have developed a deep wisdom, who are impelled by a sense of compassion and an authentic desire to serve their community. 
The School of Living is the catalyst of a self-sufficient body of people that forms community.  It serves a society of people who enjoy a special quality of mind which is found in communal association with people seeking an optimal way of life.  Society is part of our human DNA.  The community Borsodi envisioned is small and autonomous – really a mere village of a few hundred[1].  Borsodi railed against bigness and centralization.  They would be self-governing.  A world of such communities would change the course of history, eliminate war and poverty, and let us get about the business of pursuing a human destiny.
The creation of the School of Living poised the question:  Can we educate people to become more fully human?  The roots of the idea of a school to shape and support the way we live goes at least as far back as the beginning of human civilization.  That has been the leading question of humanist trailblazers for more than 2,500 years.  In the 6th century BCD, the Greek Pythagoras had the idea of an extraordinary community organized around an exemplary learning institution.  Plato and Aristotle followed his example with the Academy and Lyceum.  We see it in the Confucian schools in China, the gurus of ancient India, the temple schools of Egypt, the Rabbinical tradition of ancient Israel, the monasteries and cathedral schools of the Middle Age that were followed by the Universities, etc.  Froebel, Pestalozzi, Montessori and others created such schools.  So did Alfred Korzybski.  Eric Hoffer, who sought to break the chains of collectivist illusion, championed a new school for the working people that he admired, a school with aims very similar to Borsodi’s vision.  Many of these schools place less emphasis on community organization than Borsodi did, but they all sought to improve the overall quality of life and to develop both independence and a sense of collaboration.
But even before that, in effect, nomadic tribal groups were basically a school of living.  They were all about learning the skills needed to survive, not only to hunt and fight, but also about how to form a social system that insured mutual cooperation and well-being.  Into the modern era schools have served this basic purpose.  Sadly, while focusing on the job of learning how to live in a vastly complex technological society, we seem to be losing knowledge of the skills needed to form community, let alone to be fully human.

The Quality Life

In This Ugly Civilization, Borsodi defined quality life and linked it to the homesteading lifestyle.  Such a life, he wrote, starts with physical, financial, as well as personal independence.  
“For quality-minded men and women, the economic independence which such a homestead would furnish would be of revolutionary consequence. For note this: while freedom from dependence upon the factory would prove a boon to all types of men, in it lies a distinctive value for this minority of mankind.  In our factory-dominated civilization it would enable them to ‘sell’ their talents without having to prostitute them.  If the majority of our artists, writers, architects, engineers, teachers, musicians, scientists were in this way to secure the freedom to refuse to do work which outrages their tastes, life for everybody would undergo a radical change. The mere fact that business men would lose their power to dictate to the idealists of the world; that they would have to solicit the services of idealists rather than that idealists should beg them to utilize their services, would be sufficient to change a society in which emphasis is placed upon money into a society in which emphasis would be placed upon ideals.”
“But it would go farther.  It would furnish a better pattern of how life should be lived because it would furnish mankind a more intelligent social leadership.  Our plutocracy, which today furnishes society with its culture patterns, makes accumulation seem the most desirable thing in life.  It stimulates all of mankind to a reckless race for material possession on the theory that wealth is the key to happiness.  An economically independent, intellectual aristocracy would very quickly demonstrate the hollowness of a life of mere acquisition.”
“How can the quality-minded create such a society unless they free themselves from an economic servitude which makes them ridiculed and despised by their fellows?”  
I don’t think Jefferson or Emerson could have put it any more eloquently.
The second part of the School of Living program was life-long adult education.  This is not remedial education for dropouts but what Borsodi called “re-education”.  It is a “higher” education.  This was, in fact, the core of his program.  Borsodi had a vision, a mission in life.  Mildred summarized it nicely in the subtitle of her Borsodi biography “Reshaping Modern Culture.”  It was not about reform but an alternative lifestyle, a counterculture if you will.  Summarized in a statement Borsodi made at a conference in New York City in 1940 (which I have called his credo):
“Believing that the full development of each human being is the supreme value, the School of Living has as its primary purpose to assist adults in their study and use of the accumulated wisdom of mankind.”
“Believing that such study and use of wisdom is best facilitated by being related to the universal and perpetual living experience of human beings, the School of Living aims to assist adults in becoming aware of and the defining the major problems of living common to all people.

School of Living Curriculum

There were two parts to the School of Living curriculum.  The first was homesteading skills.  The Borsodis, as noted, had invited friends from the city to join them on weekends to learn the skills they had acquired.  He had a small library of documents, many from the US Department of Agriculture (listed in the bibliography of Flight From the City).


The School of Living was a complex organization.  George Weller in an article in Free America reported five divisions of the School of Living at the time.:
·      Homemaking.  In an earlier chapter I list the publications of this division.
·      Agriculture, or rather gardening:  the cultivation of vegetables, orchards and raising of small farm animals from fowl to goats.
·      Crafts:  Workshop practices including making furniture, weaving and production of other household implements and farm products.  Looms were manufactured by the School of Living with its label.
·      Building:  Borsodi learned to remodel and built Dogwoods and other structures.  This was a natural part of homesteading life.  With the Bayard Lane community, a guild, with several groups of workers, was formed to do construction.
·      Small Business:  Training in how to establish a personal business.  This was also called “Applied Exchange.”


Borsodi loved to hold conferences and give lectures.  But he also admired the seminar model, and he picked up an excellent model from St. John’s College, in Annapolis, Maryland, with which Borsodi became intimately involved in a long association.  St. John’s was established about a year after the School of Living.  St. John’s president, Stringfellow Barr, was a regular visitor to the School of Living.  As described elsewhere, during World War II, Borsodi drafted a plan for them to become a self-sufficient institution.
St. Johns, then and now, sought to preserve the humanistic tradition of the classical past.  Students at St. John’s studied the Great Books, the writings of the greatest minds down through the ages, and, rather than attend lectures they assembled in seminars, under the guidance of tutors, to discuss these texts, to critically examine them, to engage in dialog, and to form their own distinctive and distinguished characters.
Borsodi understood that there was much to be learned from the great heritage of human experience.  He firmly believed that we need an institution that provides not only the basic skills required to achieve a livelihood on the land but also a deep understanding of what it means to be a human being.  The objective of this institution is to promote critical intelligence, clarity, and self-reliance – the integrated personality.


The Homesteading Division produced many publications, as noted above, and we know that they had wide circulation.  The How to Economize series sold 130,000 copies.   
We also know there were newsletters and probably other documents for each Division.  Unfortunately, the documentation for this period has been lost.  Borsodi and friends also started the journal Free America focused on the topic of decentralism and increasingly, during the war years, on homesteading practices.

Two Threads

There are two major threads in our lives:  Self and Society.  These are two potent and troubling influences.  They are seemingly mutually exclusive qualities and can cause stunning conflict.  They have been the subjects of thoughtful people since at least the time we first started to record history.  They are at the core of the great religions and social philosophies.  Borsodi knew that we must reconcile these two forces; not diminish one in the favor of the other, but to bring them together in a powerful synthesis.  This is the genesis of the School of Living.

What makes us human?

At root is an understanding of human nature.  What defines our species is self-consciousness.  At some point early in our lives we awaken to “I.”  There is only one of each of us.  The world becomes subject and object.  
But we are also a social species.  As a species we are unique in our consciousness and we are unique among the higher animals in our capacity to bond with others.  The other Eusocial[2] species are mostly ants, bees and termites; colonizing insects that have created profoundly intricate societies.  They have an unprecedented ability to survive as species.  They operate from instinct.  Humans are different.  We think.
That the human species is a part of nature is more than a clich√©; it is an absolute fact.  We too often impose our ideals on what Nature should be like.  I think we need to get to the basics, the facts of life as Nature defines them.  To start with, our species is the product of four billion years of the evolution of life on Earth.  Within each cell is a master template of our being, DNA.  In that coil of molecules is recorded every step of the evolution of life.  When the sperm and egg join in the womb, the organism that will become one of us starts as a little bud of cells and then grows through the evolutionary stages of life.  Over these billions of years life has become increasingly complex and at the apex of the tree of life is us, defined by the most complex organism of all – the human brain.  With it, Nature has become aware of itself.
Most of us have some understanding of the process of evolution.  National Geographic is full of stories about the discovery of our remote ancestors and other races, now extinct, that evolved into some stage of self-consciousness.  We know that people like ourselves, both physically and neurologically, appeared at least 200,000 years ago; a mere tick of the geological clock.
What defines our species is that awareness – of self and of other things.  This takes place in a newly evolved brain structure called the neo-cortex.  It is in that part of our new brain that language came into existence.  In that part of our brain we remember, and we imagine:  We are aware of past, present and future.  We are able to not only adapt to changing circumstances, we can anticipate the course of events and imagine alternative solutions[3].  I say “we,” but memory and imagination are functions only an “I” can do.  How we accomplish what we imagine is the “we” part.
Only humans have the capacity for abstract language.  That makes us a learning species.  With the invention of writing we gained an additional capacity to inscribe our experience on media that can be passed down from generation to generation[4].  Inevitably we developed libraries and schools.  The core value of the School of Living is Borsodi’s realization of the great power of this human quality that has not been fully developed.  Indeed, our educational systems are problematic in many ways.

Our capacity to learn

Borsodi developed a model for what he considered a true, or right, education.  It is first of all focused on the individual.  It is problem centered.  It is integral and holistic, not specialized, and it consults the accrued wisdom of the species – all of it.  
It is not learning for learning’s sake.  It is about how we adapt, survive, make progress, and find understanding and meaning in life.  Its true function is to develop our individual capacities to the utmost so we can contribute to our community and to the progress of our species.  This is a dynamic process, a process that is never in equilibrium and never should be.  It’s like walking a tight rope, or expressed another way in the Kath Upanishad, “the razor’s edge.”
The human mind is an astonishing function.  As such it has a natural purpose.  While it has the capacity of consciousness, memory, imagination, language, humor, etc., it has evolved for one purpose:  To solve the problems of survival.  It is an organ of adaptation.  It comes fully awake only in the face of a problem, a threat.
It is a complex system.  There are actually three brains built one upon the other that reflect the evolution of life, sometimes referred to as the reptilian, mammalian, and human brains.  Awakened to threat, our response starts through the lower brain and the result, especially to threat (real or imagined), can be raw, brutal and purely animal.  
Throughout our history we have struggled with the problem of the beast within us.  The great religions deal with this problem.  Typically, they put the solution in an otherworldly context; in other words, they see the realities of life on Earth as essentially unresolvable.  Nonetheless they give us a vision of a life we define as more human.
“Religio” means rule.  Religions have given us principles, laws and rules society requires to live in good order.  In the field of philosophy, we have gone further into the realm of logic, the rules of reason.  We have a sense of morality and ethics.  Somewhere in us is encoded the concepts of dignity, nobility, refinement, and such.  Wilson attributes this to our Eusocial nature, to an essential sense of community, and more, an innate altruism.  This is realized through what we call humanitarian behavior.  Borsodi was profoundly humanitarian.
Imagination can, however, sometimes be dangerous.  Nature operates by law.  The human mind does not.  As the Red Queen told Alice, she could believe in six impossible things before breakfast.  In short, we need a standard for objective reality.  We have pursued that from the time of Socrates and Confucius and across the centuries to today[5].
Rules, or laws, can serve good or evil.  Tyrants are good at making laws.  As Eric Hoffer so eloquently described in The True Believer, finding the world more than they can cope with, masses of people frequently choose to surrender the self to the collective.  The result is too often bestial.  
Borsodi didn’t like rules[6].  He is eloquently descriptive but not prescriptive.  His entire body of work is designed for one purpose only:  To get us to ask the questions, that is, to define the problems that our brains are stirred up about.  We can then consult our collective (historic) experience for insights and then formulate solutions.  This is learning.  

End Game

World War II brought this second phase of Borsodi’s career to a closure.  Following the war, he shifted into a new, higher gear.  With a return to prosperity, the Bayard Lane residents decided to break up the land trust and secure their property fee simple.  The School of Living continued to operate under Borsodi’s direction.  He built a strong core team and support network.  He continued to edit Free America and published a School newsletter he called The Decentralist.  He completed his St. John’s proposal, worked on a draft of a book with the renowned British philosopher Aldous Huxley[7], and developed a peace plan that anticipated the United Nations.
There were also two associated enterprises formed.  The first was the School of Living Institute chartered in January 1945 “to promote this new type of education” — “the scientific study of normal living in various communities.”  Carl Vrooman, of Bloomington, Illinois, formerly Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, was Chancellor of the Institute, and  Mildred Jenson Loomis, of Brookville, Ohio, its Dean.  The institute was headquartered at the Loomis Lane’s End homestead (Chapter 13).  Local study groups were identified in Bethlehem, Pa., Columbus, Coshocton, Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio.  
The second associated enterprise was Bayard Lane, Inc, Publishers, set up to print books and periodicals dealing with subjects of interest to the School of Living.  Herschel Papiroff was President, Frank G. Chiles, Vice President and Edward M. Borsodi, Secretary-Treasurer.
A publication from the end of the war (1946) reported that:
“The activities of the School fall into three main divisions:  (1) Research and Publications, (2) Education, and (3) Demonstration.  …. the following is a brief outline of its present educational activities.
“The regular day at the School is divided into periods each of which is used as a basis for studying the practices of living.  Every part of the day – including the rest and recreation period – thus becomes an integral element in the effort to obtain insight into the problems of living.  The Seminars on the principles of living were conducted under the leadership of Mr. Borsodi afternoons and evenings.  The Morning Experiment Period under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. Toms begins with a discussion of activities and experiments planned for each day.
“Among the projects and practices which will be the subject of experimentation, are the following:  Allocation of Time; Indoor and Outdoor Chores; Nutrition; Weaving; Recreation and Recuperation; Gardening, Pruning, etc.;’ Cows, Goats, Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits; Butter and Cheddar Cheese making; Freezing and Cold Storage; Preserving, Canning and Drying of Food; Economics of Home Production; Modern Laundering; Beekeeping and Pollination.
There were twelve bulletins of its Research Division dealing with the practical activities.  There was also a substantial library of perhaps 2,000 volumes.

Seminars on the Thirteen Major Problems of Living

Borsodi had begun a series of seminars across the country on his new problem-centered educational framework.  A comprehensive program of seminars was being offered at the School at Suffern: “Seminars on the principles of Normal Living.”  There were weekend and summer seminar programs.  They came in two categories:  Seminars on the Thirteen Major Problems of Living and Seminars on the implementation of Normal Living.  The first group included:
I and II – Definition of “Normal Living.”  The Normal Individual; the Normal Family; the Normal Community.  Methods of establishing Norms of Living.
III – The Thirteen Major Problems of Living.  The Major Aspects of Action; the Problems they create for the Individual; Ideas and Ideologies for dealing with them.
IV and V – The Psycho-Physiological Problem and Ideologies for dealing with it.  The three psycho-physiological functions:  Death, Birth, Living.  Organization:  Regimen and Therapy.  
VI and VII – Occupational Problems and Ideologies.  The functional aspect:  spending time.  The organization of time:  Production; Recreation; Recuperation; (Work, Play, Rest).
VIII and IX – Possessional Problems and Ideologies.  The functions of property:  Poverty, Security, Liberty.  The organization of ownership and trusteeship.
X – Associational Problems and Ideologies.  The functions and organization of individual-to-individual relationships.
XI – Group Problems and Ideologies. Functions and organizations of individual-to-group and group-to-group relationships.
XIII – Ethical Problems and Ideologies.  The problem of the consequences of action; the organization of law and manners.
VIV – Esthetic Problems and Ideologies.  The function of the feeling for beauty and ugliness; the organization of skill and good taste.
XV and XVI – Educational Problems and Ideologies.  Functions and organization of right education.  Instinct vs. education; adult vs. juvenile education; the four fields and methods of education.
XVII – Operational Problems and Ideologies.  The planning of living; the eight elements in the organization of projects and enterprises essential to normal living.
XVIII – Ontological Problems and Ideologies.  The functions and organization of man’s freedom and his power over nature.
XIX – Epistemological Problems and Ideologies.  Truth vs. reality; the validation of action.
XX – Teleological Problems and Ideologies.  What is the end or purpose to which life should be devoted?

Seminars on the implementation of Normal Living

I – Definition of Implementation and Normalization
II – Jurisdictional Problems:  1. Personal Action; 2. Group Action (Centralization); 3. De-Institutionalization (Decentralization)
III and IV – Property:  Access and passion: 
1.     Land – Purchase or Renting; Organizing Homestead Associations; the Normalization of Land Tenure.
2.     Buildings, Equipment and Other Forms of Capital – Private, Corporate, Cooperative, Government Ownership.
3.     Credit – The Commercial Bank; the Credit Union; the Normalization of Banking and Credit.
4.     Money – The three alternatives:  Labor, Debt and Commodity Money; the Normalization of Money.
5.     Public Services and Utilities – the Normalization of Special Privilege and Monopoly.
VIII to X – Occupation and Production:
1.     Domestic Production vs. the Production of Monetary Income
2.     The Production of Food, Clothing and other Necessaries of the Good Life
3.     Recreation:  Participation vs. spectator
4.     Provision for Recuperation
XI and XII – Psychological and Physiological Health
1.     Regimen and the Maintenance of Health
2.     Therapy:  Restoration of Health
XIII – Personal Association:  Mores and Manners and the Normalization of Individual Rights and Duties.
XIV – Group Association:  Organization and Normalization of Group Rivalry.
XV – Civic Association:  Legal Coercion and its place in Normal Living.
XVI to XIX – Education.
1.     The Normalization of Adult Education; the University and School of Living.
2.     The Normalization of Juvenile Education:  The Home; the Common School; the High School; Vocational Education; College
3.     The Normalization of the Curriculum; the Education of the Perceptions, the Emotions, the Intelligence, the Will
4.     The Normalization of Method; Opportunity, Example, Precept, Command
XX – Operating and Planning:  The Normalization of Organization and Leadership.
The term “normalization” is used repeatedly.  The objective of the School of Living program is “normal” living.  Normal in this case is not the average, the ordinary; it is the optimum, the Good Life.  We may interpret it in terms of self-actualization as defined by Abraham Maslow.  In contrast, almost everything about our urban-industrial culture is abnormal.  The only way to achieve the normal life is through education.


Borsodi, as noted, had been active in education since at least his teen years when he worked with the Georgist movement in New York City.  He taught classes, made speeches and edited the newsletter for them.  At Dogwoods, he invited friends from the city to learn the arts of homesteading and started a correspondence course.  The Borsodis homeschooled their children.  In This Ugly Civilization he proposed an educational program.  He advocated education at Dayton.  The School of Living formalized his program.  It continued to evolve into and through the war and was put on a solid foundation afterwards.  
Following the war, with Mildred Loomis taking over much of the responsibility for running the School of Living programs at Lane’s End, Borsodi completed his Education and Living (1948) which became a master text, the keystone, to his system.
As we shall see, the program, the problem-centered approach to learning, the wholistic development of the person, continued to evolve, beginning in 1950, into a university experiment, then a long stay in India working with agrarian educational collaborators and the publication of The Education of the Whole Man, and finally Seventeen Problems, which rounded out his research.
But he was not done with practical work.  Ahead of him also lay the work of developing his land trust system and local currency.  To support these, he would eventually develop two international organizations.

[1] The human mind evolved to be comfortable with a group of 150 to 200 people – you can know everyone.  This takes natural form in tribes, villages and successful organizations.
[2] According to biologist E. O. Wilson, of all the millions of species there are just 19 that exhibit the quality of being Eusocial.
[3] We also have extraordinary eye-hand coordination and that hand is capable of astonishing manipulation:  we are makers.
[4] Written language also includes musical and mathematical notations.
[5] Transition Centre uses Korzybski’s general semantics and Fuller’s synergetics (two closely linked systems) as a standard for objective evaluation and how that comes about.  Or not.  An outlines of those systems, and the nature of us, can be found in my Self-Reliance:  Achieving Personal Resiliency and Independence (link)
[6] He did devise a Constitution of the First Homestead Unit at Dayton and a Homesteader Constitution to create a corporation that put the land beyond the reach of probate courts.  These documents include principles and rights, not the foundation of a legal system such as the Constitution of the United States.
[7] The book was not published but Huxley referred to their common theme, and recognized Borsodi’s contribution in his 1946 Science, Liberty and Peace.

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