• This topic is empty.
Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 12 total)
  • Author
  • #139945

    I have been reflecting on the notion of ranks/titles like ‘novice’, ‘adept’, or ‘knight’ and their place in Jedi realism.  Yes, they were in the movies and book canon, but as many have pointed out on this forum, while the books and movies serve as inspiration, living the path becomes a very different than the fiction from which it arose.

    In the more traditional martial arts systems in the East there were no ranks.  A person trained until their teacher one day turned to them told them that they were ready to teach.  The students trained as part of a process or journey, not in order to attain a goal.  Ranks did not begin to be introduced until the arts made their way into goal-oriented Western society.  It was simply the only way teachers could keep their students around long enough to actually become proficient in the art.  The hope was that once the student got to a certain level, they would be more interested in the process of learning the art than in the attainment of yet another rank in the system.  In some cases, they were right, but I have noticed over the years that in a large majority of cases, once that black belt is earned and students are faced with long periods of training between degrees rather than a shiny new belt every six to twelve months, a student will simply move on to new goals and challenges.

    So I have to ask…why is it important that the study of Jedi realism lead to any ‘rank’ at all?  Are we so much the children of Western culture that we just would not continue the journey without a rank at the ‘end’ of each period? Can we not, as a community, be counterculture and rise above such things and instead study just for the sheer joy of learning and growing?

    The above questions are rhetorical, really, as we are each a child of our culture and it is extremely difficult to step outside of this with any degree of objectivity.  As such, it is probably unrealistic to think that IJRS would survive without having some rank structure outside of ‘students of the Force’ who are at varying places on the path of self-development. This being the case, then there are a whole host of other complications that arise such as how things like spiritual growth, wisdom and maturity can even be ‘tested’ and by whom?  What qualifications would the examiners possess and even more importantly, as this is a ‘grassroots’ organization, how will those first members become qualified if there is no one to test them? How do taking the requisite classes and doing the integrative practice demonstrate spiritual growth? Certainly, it demonstrates perseverance and the coursework would demonstrate that the person has at least a cognitive understanding of the material, but can spiritual growth be determined by essays, journals, written exams, research projects etc?  Is two year enough time to truly get to know a person well enough to discern that they are ready to become an ‘adept’, given that the interaction mainly takes place asynchronously?  It generally takes four or more years to earn a black belt, for example, and the Sensei, in that time, has developed an in-person relationship with the student both on and off the dojo floor.  The teaching ranks (which seem to equate more to what IJRS sees as knight level) usually take another four or five years beyond that.

    An in-person trial for knighthood makes things more ‘rigorous’ but would only be a snapshot in time of ‘performance’ on a given day or days.  Also, what sorts of tests could one possibly set that would determine spiritual growth? In the movies and books, such a trial occurred after a very long one-on-one apprenticeship where the master and padawan lived and worked side by side for a decade or more.  The trial itself was a culminating experience that seemed more intended to given the padawan the confidence to make the transition from padawan to knight, rather than prove to the council that they were ready. The mentor would have reported regularly on their student’s progress to the council. As such, the council and mentor, in deciding to trial the padawan, had already determined that the padawan was ready to become a knight.


    I may be mistaken, but I do not think these titles we use imply any sort of spiritual mastery, but do demonstrate commitment to service, the martial arts, the jedi path and exposure to the concepts important to being a jedi realist set forth by this academy. 

    I happen to see no problem with being “western” in our approach.  Western civilization, after all, is the birthplace of the individuality necessary for this philosophy to even exist.  In the west, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, in the east, the nail that sticks out gets pounded down.  As a community of nails that stick out, the freedom of expression and individual thought is absolutely essential.  Freedom of religion, philosophy and politics is a western concept.  We should think twice before we go downing our roots.


    Well, the Jedi Realist FAQ’s list a set of ‘core values’ that are the mark of a Jedi Realist:

    What are the Core Values?
    The Core Values of the Jedi encompass many areas. A Jedi
    1. Has faith and confidence in the Force and the inner strength and guidance it provides,
    2. Disciplines and trains the mind to gain knowledge, a strong will and serenity,
    3. Disciplines and trains the body to develop and maintain health and wellness in support of the Jedi’s work,
    4. Disciplines and trains the spirit through a conscious connection to the Force, gaining focus and discretion,
    5. Acknowledges emotions without allowing them to alter their actions or vision.
    6. Strives to achieve balance in all areas of life.
    7. Respects and defends life in all its forms.
    8. Is a guardian of peace and justice.
    9. Approaches life with courage and honesty to gain wisdom.
    10. Humbly undertakes service for the betterment of all.
    11. Practices compassion and patience toward others as well as the self.
    12. Views the world critically and objectively, with a willingness to challenge conventional thinking.
    13. Accepts the responsibility to pass on their knowledge to willing students of the Force.

    Item 4 specifically speaks to spiritual development and many of the above values are things difficult to measure. The wording of the above ‘core values’ and the requirement for integrated studies indicate that the ‘goal’ is to to do more than simply be exposed to the ‘concepts important to being a Jedi Realist’.

    But you make a very good point in that the learning outcomes need to be very clear and measurable.  Perhaps the best that can be achieved is an exposure to the concepts in this sort of online setting. 

    As for the Western versus Eastern approach, each has its place.  If the outcome by the time a student reaches knight is that he or she will have a good working knowledge of the ideas and concepts of a Jedi Realist, then the Western approach is a good model.  If the outcome, however, is more along the lines of embodying the above core values in one’s daily life, then the Eastern process-oriented model is a better fit.  In this case, the journey would be an endless quest for self-knowledge and for deepening wisdom rather than a finite goal of attaining a title.


    As it is, there happens to be a limited amount of information available here at this site.  I am again assuming that the activities put forth here are set forth with the goal of fostering the habit of growth so that graduates do demonstrate the life long learning that you describe.  But as we cannot actually measure that, we have to sort of go off what we have. 

    Not many people would go to college if they did not receive a degree.


    First, thank you for bringing this up Tercenya.  I agree with much of what you say and struggle with just how to balance a focus on development and progression within the individual’s path with a need to set a minimum knowledge base from which a person trains or teaches from.  I’ve been thinking about it and view this as being a multiple component area.

    First, to clear up, the core values listed above does not define a Jedi Knight per se.  Yes, it helps define a Jedi, but it isn’t something set up with standards and levels, simply showing the breadth the Jedi path encompasses.  A Jedi, if they were to agree with this definition, would want to be sure to address each of these points in their training, but to the extent they are capable of.  These definitely aren’t testable areas, at least not in the traditional sense.  Though, observed over time, a student would show their level of understanding and application of each area, and thus indirectly ‘tested’.  But I see this list merely as a starting point. 

    Ranks require standards.  In the past my focus on standards was in reaction to the distinct lack of standards at many other sites who were promoting people after memorizing a few things and putting in their time.  Sometimes this was due to lack of seriousness, sometimes due to lack of experience and understanding of just what a Jedi should know.  We can correct knowledge gaps through standards and guidelines.  Then if a group still chooses to use low standards they are doing so consciously.  Or, if they know they have a lack of knowledge in an area they can work to correct it.  Or they can say our standards suck and create their own.  If they do that, at least they’re consciously thinking about the Jedi path as they see it, which is a positive as well. 

    Another purpose would be to define when a person has the knowledge to teach.  This is a longer term goal, since we’re doing the research today that we’ll expect everyone to learn in the future (we being the Jedi as a whole on this path now.)  That’s why I view everyone on the path today as subject matter experts, which is what I look for in teachers (as well as teaching ability.) 

    So now I’m viewing what I saw as a rank before as simply more precise training guidelines.  This helps people train either on their own or in a more structured setting.  It helps other groups see that there is more to learn and hopefully helps shift the focus away from rank and toward development which is all that really matters.  At the same time, once we have the curriculum fleshed out I still see value in having two tiers of courses (with that Adept trial of sorts in the middle) because it gives students something to shoot for and a good point to stop and see just what a student needs to work on.  Even in eastern styles of training there are ranks.  There may not be a strong focus on them (I don’t know) but they do exist.  Rank serves a purpose in allowing others to know what training another person has done.  It doesn’t mean that another person is better than any other person, just a note of a general point in their training. 

    The way I view having a Knighthood rank is like the black belt.  Those that don’t know think it’s a pinnacle.  Those who have trained know it is merely the beginning of the journey.  It is a statement that you have mastered the basics, and depending on the style, can teach others.  It’s a process that takes many years, even with full time, in person training. 

    I think we need to start discussing what the guidelines should be for a well rounded Jedi education.  We’ve had this discussion somewhat in the past but it should be started again since we have some great new faces and ideas around.  Also, more and more of the people that come here aren’t young beginners but older folks who need to work on specific areas.  Even if there aren’t courses for that we can create living documents which provide guidance. 

    As for testing, the plan was always to observe a student for months as they were preparing for an offline trial.  For full knighthood there has to be an in person test of some kind, unless there were extenuating circumstances that made that impossible.  Trials themselves have to be individualized as well.  And if you didn’t read it (or if it somehow got lost amongst the website) there is a research project to be undertaken as well, just like a thesis in college which would show the student’s knowledge as well as contribute to the community as a whole. That was Inari’s idea :-) So it’s not a simple process by any stretch of the imagination, even keeping the process online since there are so many ways to do live communication without spending a lot of money.

    I apologize if my thoughts were a bit redundant.  I struggle to explain what I feel is a nuanced position we will need to have.  We need to balance the usefulness of a minimum of ranks without a focus on them.  We need to focus on what is useful for the community to focus our energy and not waste time on things that really don’t matter in the end. 


    Western eastern culture, its all human culture to me its all mixed up in many of our lives, ranks seem to give other people the wrong impression, I have heard people say he`s/she`s a black belt they are so fantastic and brilliant then I find out that this person is an alcoholic or have some other serious problem and then I like to see the person as they are without the rank image getting in the way.

    As for testing, the plan was always to observe a student for months as they were preparing for an offline trial.  For full knighthood there has to be an in person test of some kind, unless there were extenuating circumstances that made that impossible.  Trials themselves have to be individualized as well.  And if you didn’t read it (or if it somehow got lost amongst the website) there is a research project to be undertaken as well, just like a thesis in college which would show the student’s knowledge as well as contribute to the community as a whole. That was Inari’s idea :-) So it’s not a simple process by any stretch of the imagination, even keeping the process online since there are so many ways to do live communication without spending a lot of money.

    Well, my biggest question here is one that I posed in my original message.  Who would be qualified to test those very first knights?  It sounds from your description of the current faculty (and correct me if I am wrong here)  that IJRS has some able faculty members who are currently developing the curriculum as subject-matter experts, but that who are not experienced enough in all areas to be a knight themselves. Also, as the faculty is still very small, it seems that those who are not subject-matter experts end up covering the classes of those faculty members who are currently on leave of absence.

    Such challenges are simply the ‘growing pains’ of a new organization, so are to be expected. Perhaps, though, under such circumstances, rather than overstretching into an advanced curriculum and knight standards, it might be better to work on a solid foundation for Adept level?  The focus being getting out all of the 101 classes, setting clear and measurable outcomes and on building up enough faculty such that there are sufficient subject-matter experts in each area to cover leaves of absence.  I am sure that there is some pressure to get out more material, but the students who have finished the current classes can always work with one of the subject-matter experts independently until qualified to become faculty member in the area.  

    Once the foundation is rock-solid, then it would be far easier to have some clarity about the knight curriculum and standards.  This would also allow time for at least some of the faculty to take the classes that they do not teach both at the 101 level and then later at the advanced levels. This has the advantage of faculty feedback on how effective the class is from a student perspective and also shows the students that the faculty is willing to ‘lead by example’.  Furthermore, this would lend some credibility to the ranks that are, eventually, awarded since the people doing the testing will at least have achieved the basics in every area themselves by actually doing the work rather than simply helping to proofread the classes outside of their area of expertise.

    A house (or Jedi temple in this case) built upon a weak foundation will not withstand the test of time, after all…


    First, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve never put a big focus on the advanced curriculum, however it is important to keep that in mind.  By discussing higher training goals it keeps us from growing stagnant in our training, it challenges everyone to think about the path more actively.  And the faculty members are expected to work on new curriculum as they are able to.  Believe me, there’s no pressure.   

    As for how the first knights are tested, ideally it would be a group affair.  It’s certainly never a one person decision.  But really, focusing on how to test at this point is shifting the focus from what is important – creating guidelines for training.  When I started there was nothing out there.  A few academy’s popped up, with a few basic classes, but no one ever made a list of what things to learn on this path.  Without a list for reference I was just following my on whims which is rather disorganized and not very efficient. 

    The rank doesn’t matter.  Not at all when it refers to any one individual.  The focus is on development of each person.  I’ve seen a lot of people leave I think because they never have an idea of where the Jedi path is heading.  They see some courses and misunderstand that as being the path – they are just basic tools. 

    We won’t award any ranks until they mean something.  I know you’re new here, but we’ve managed to exist for many years now without a focus on ranks.  We haven’t rushed ahead on anything because the focus is on foundation.  Please don’t confuse us with others because this is an area that was consciously addressed from our formation. 

    But really, focusing on how to test at this point is shifting the focus from what is important – creating guidelines for training.  

    Guidelines for training are helpful, certainly, and the fact that you have worked to implement them was what attracted me to IJRS in the first place. However, curriculum designers generally begin with a set of measurable outcomes and then work out how they will get the students there.  As such, at least thinking of the outcomes and the assessment would not be a shift in focus at all but would help focus in on what is important to learn.

    We won’t award any ranks until they mean something.  I know you’re new here, but we’ve managed to exist for many years now without a focus on ranks.  We haven’t rushed ahead on anything because the focus is on foundation.

    This is commendable and perhaps even suggests that ranks may well be unnecessary after all.

    Please don’t confuse us with others because this is an area that was consciously addressed from our formation.

    Actually, I was not comparing IJRS to any other group. My suggestions were based on my observation that there are still 101 courses in development and on the fact that there is not yet enough faculty in each area of expertise to allow leaves of absence while still having a qualified instructor to teach any given course. As I said in my other post, this is to be expected in an organization that is relatively new and, as such, it was not a criticism at all.

    I am, indeed, new and while I do have experience in many of the areas taught here, I do not consider myself a ‘subject-matter expert’ in any of them and would not presume to make any suggestions on specific guidelines etc.  However, I have an extensive teaching and curriculum development background and thought I would share some ideas from that perspective. If I have overstepped my bounds in making these suggestions, then I sincerely apologize.  I was simply trying to contribute to the community in a meaningful way.  Perhaps it was unwise on my part to do so while I am still the ‘new kid on the block’.


    I have no problems with your suggestions, they’re completely valid. :-)  I’m a little confused because they are already what we are doing or plan to do, mostly.  By explaining my perspective I hope to clear up what boils down to a lack of communication on my part as many of these topics were addressed privately in the faculty area.  I hope not to sound defensive, I just have this personality quirk that makes me want to explain things so people understand.  Sometimes I do it too much which shows me I have plenty of communication issues to work on. ;-)

    This is a tricky balance, as you well know.  We need to have a plan before creating courses so there is a purpose to them.  At the same time, we don’t really know the end point so we can’t necessarily have an outline to that point.  Personally, my strategy is to attempt to have a long term goal with my courses (Personal has been my focus for the past few years) and then try to come up with a way to meet that goal in an organic way.  I want a course to feel like it has a flow to it, rather than being a bunch of unrelated lessons thrown together.  This can be done with a single course, or it can be done with a series of courses.  Either way, standards need to be set to some extent to do so.  This is why we underwent this discussion the first time with the faculty a few years back.  Then we discovered just how difficult it is to see into the future, especially when not everyone had the same experiences.  :-)  Thus, as subject matter experts come I like to at least kick up discussion in their areas of expertise so we can attempt to expand training goals.  Unfortunately people tend to come and go in this community which makes most too unreliable to make official faculty.  This is why I tend to approach people early to see if they have interest in teaching but then wait to see if they stick around long enough to join the team.  Because we don’t have enough people to cover courses without everyone doing their part I have no interest in adding faculty just for fun – they need to work too. ;-)  In general that’s worked fairly well, though we currently have two faculty on hiatus simply because their life has put them in a place where they don’t have internet.  Unfortunately I don’t make enough money to subsidize their internet myself, nor does this website.  So they’re on hiatus while their life is sorted out.  It’s unfortunate as well because they have a lot to offer.  I know this is getting off the topic a bit, but I think sharing my personal philosophy as to how I’ve run the Academy can help you understand it better.  There are multiple faculty currently writing new courses to help fill out the beginning courses in our areas of expertise.  As we find more people willing and able to become faculty and develop courses we’ll continue to fill out the foundation so Jedi of the future can benefit.  Oh, and if it helps, all of the faculty should be aware of what is in another course, as we provide feedback and such before a course is made available.  Not everyone is able to step in and teach the course like the developer, but the basic knowledge is there.  And if they haven’t read them all (hint hint) perhaps they should do so.  :-D

    When I have time I’ll organize the discussions that happened in the past and see what might be most interesting to discuss now.  I’m not concerned about rank, just creating guidelines for people.  Who knows, maybe it will inspire others to create lessons for their own areas of interest.  No need to be an instructor to do that.  Actually, that’s how we decided to ask Kol to join was when he posted the WWTF series. It showed not only that he was uber-knowledgeable (which we all knew) but that he had the ability to create curriculum. :-)  Just something to keep in mind for the knowledgeable students out there.

    Thank you again Tercenya.  These are important questions to ask.  And for everyone else, please don’t think this means the conversation is over. If you have things to add, please do. :yoda

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 12 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Login here