Conversation With A Student

downloadThe following is a short conversation with an online Masters student who is the mother of 6 with all her kids still at home.

From: Monticello College Student – MA in Natural Law

Subject: Readings

Date: June 24, 2016 12:02:07 PM MDT

To: Doctor Brooks <>

Found an accountability partner which is huge. Still only got 9ish hrs this last week but that’s a great improvement over the abysmal 3 weeks prior.

Trying to go back and really understand Strauss and that darn book puts me to sleep within MINUTES of picking it up. So frustrating. Maybe I’ll try again after we finish Aristotle.

Class today was good. I liked the discussion. I’m concerned that I’ve become familiar with the works but don’t have anything of my own to say. Does that make sense? Trying to think about what I could write to add to the great conversation as it were, and just facing a blank wall.

Looking forward to digging into Ethics again.

From: Doctor Brooks <>

Subject: Readings

Date: June 24, 2016 14:07:07 PM MDT

To: Monticello College Student – MA in Natural Law 

Let’s be realistic. Every single author in the great books spent decades if not a lifetime developing the ideas we are reading.

Is it even possible that we could have something to contribute after only a few hundred hours maybe even a couple years of study?

I would suggest that right now is not the time for contribution to the great ideas but a time to thoroughly understand and find ways to apply the truth to our lives from these life changing concepts.

But anyone can say that they are applying these truths to their lives… that’s a Sunday school answer.

The real test is are you actually doing the application. It is in the doing, it is in the applying of the truth that you will then come to new understanding and actual contribution.

New American Founders

From: Monticello College Student – MA in Natural Law

Subject: Readings

Date: June 25, 2016 10:02:07 AM MDT

To: Doctor Brooks <>

I see your point. Will I be like Isthmene or Antigone? Am I blinded by desire for power/prestige/control (Eteocles) or do I seek for justice/equality/to keep my word (Polynices)?

Do I pride myself in the knowledge I’ve gained such that I am closed off to learning and understanding more (Euthyphro) or do I recognize that to be truly wise I must acknowledge how little I know (Socrates)?

How do I use the examples from the readings to evaluate and improve my own life and current trajectory?

Thanks for helping me gain some clarity and perspective.

Readings referred to in this post:

Antigone, Sophocles

Seventh Letter, Plato

Crito, Plato

Apology, Plato

Earth Art

The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth) is where we learned to build with “Super Adobe.”

MC Students On Campus

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.44.29 AMI literally have had no time to update you until now. See the short student report and video below to her family and friends.







The Diary Of An Avid Reader

Okay, so you know that we teach the Great Books, and that we have long classroom discussions, and that we doing a lot of hard farm work.

But now I want you to hear straight from the students themselves. For the next few weeks, I will be featuring student blogs so you can get to know our students directly.

This entry features Dani Nieman of the Tri-Cities area of Washington State.

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Success vs Failure

failureIn our current culture failure means: lack of success; an unsuccessful person, enterprise, or thing.

But that is a narrow and incomplete definition.

If you look further, you will find a more complete definition: a lack or deficiency of desired quality; the action or state of not functioning; a sudden cessation of power.

What this demonstrates is that failure is not something that happens to you, but something you choose.

Failure is really just us quitting.

Failure quotes (13)EPIPHANY!! As long as we never quit, we never fail.

Let me say it differently. There are two types of success; gestational success and actual success.

Actual success is defined as: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the outcome of an undertaking specified as achieving its aim.

So Success means that you have achieved 100% or more of your desired aim or outcome. Gestational Success simply means that you have not yet fully achieved your desired aim or outcome, but are on the path to doing so. Success is not instantaneous. There is a lag time or gestation period between desire, action, and outcome.

On our campus farm, we often have a goal to hatch out chicks. We take action to setup the incubator, wherein we place the fertilized eggs. Then when we return the next morning and there are no chicks—we have no choice, we must concede failure…right?

Of course, not! Because we understand that there is a gestation period, we know that it is a work in progress and that it will take 21 days for the process to complete. So if we are not failing during the 21-day process, what are we doing? We are participating in gestational success!! Even though we can’t see it, there is plenty happening inside the egg, or the seed in the ground, or the mind of the infant, etc.

WebFailure then is not something that can happen to us, it is not a phenomenon that is out of our control—it is a choice…pure and simple.

Gestational Success is continued effort until the completion or end of the gestational period.

When dealing with the hatching of chickens or the breeding of any farm animal, long experience has taught us what to expect or has informed our expectations, so we are resolved to maintain our vigilance for the duration of the perceived gestation period.

But what if we are creating something new and are not sure of the gestation period or all of the proper steps to take during the gestation process? This is where preparation is vital. Even though the process may be new to us, it is not new to everyone. Chances are, someone has already done all of the hard work to figure out the gestational period and process. All we have to do is find them and replicate what they have done—and never give up.

090912-chick-chicagoWhen we are hatching chicks, we don’t get creative and try to change the gestation period or process.

In a similar manner, we trust those who have gone before us in areas where we have little first hand knowledge.

Our expectations are created based on their “fruits”and we follow their example to the “T” anticipating the same results.

We have full confidence that what they have done–we can do. We clearly see that Gestational Success precedes Actual Success and we never concede to failure, because we never give up.

Not all of our eggs always hatch…so do we then consider our efforts a failure? Of course not, even if only 5 out of 10 eggs hatch (which almost never happens), we still have 5 chicks that will grow up to lay eggs from which we can try again. As long as we never quit, we never fail.

successThe dictionary and real life definition of failure is to enter a state of not functioning or a cessation of power.

Only death can force us to not function or to cease exerting power. Let’s be honest, any other situation where we enter a state of not functioning or a cessation of power is nothing more than us quitting.

Bottom Line: we are either quitters or we are doers, and it has nothing to do with anyone else.


Bottom Line: I am either a quitter or I am a doer, and it has nothing to do with anyone else.


An Apple Orchard Is Born!

Orchard and Blue Mountains 4

Our “Blue Mountains” In The Background


We are so grateful to all the donors who helped raise the $8,000 + to fund this orchard and to Joelle Mancuso – CA (MC Trustee) who managed the entire fund raising project every day for over a month.


Who’s The Boss Around Here? Maddy’s Pretty Sure She Is.


A super big thank you to the volunteers who helped our students make this orchard dream a REALITY by planting 65 – apple, pear, and nut trees under budget and with 1/2 a day to spare.

Students mod

These Girls Can Give You A Run For Your Money When It Comes To Hard Work







On Campus Students:

(left to right)

Noelle Dupuis, Idaho Falls, ID

Rebecca Georgeson, Boise, ID

Dani Nieman – Benton City, WA

Hailey Hardman, Highland, UT

Heather Fuqua, Petaluma, CA

Ben Brooks, Monticello, UT (not pictured)


Planting Trees2

These People Know How To Work

MC Student - 2032 So Dang Cute

MC Student – 2032
So Dang Cute

Willam Downer – NV

Leigh Ann Downer – NV

Greg Downer – NV

Madilyn Downer – NV

William Downer (the smaller) – NV

Surveying What's Been Done, And What's Left To Do

Surveying What’s Been Done, And What’s Left To Do

Bella Downer – NV

Emma Leigh Downer – NV

Rosanna Downer – NV

Levi Downer – NV

Lori Mitchell – UT

Brent Mitchell – UT

creative copy









Brandon Mitchell (MC Mentor) – UT

Malinda Severn – UT

Kerry Severn – UT

Pete Ortiz – CA

Deena Ortiz (MC Trustee) – UT

Ben Brooks – UT

Julia Brooks – UT

Samantha Brooks – UT




Just Beginning To Snow As We Begin To Prepare The Orchard Ground

Just Starting To Snow As We Begin To Prepare The Orchard Ground








The Orchard IS Nearly Completed

The Orchard Is Nearly Completed

Lunch Time

Lunch Time


Securing fencing1 copy

Deer “Proofing” Our Trees