Where She Flies With Her Own Wings

by Richard Martin Oxman

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are –

— from Emily Dickinson’s There’s a certain Slant of light

There is a new two-year college in Portland, Oregon that is “at the heart of a movement to revolutionize higher education.” The quoted words are taken from its website, and I can tell you definitively — having thoroughly investigated the nuts and bolts which comprise its foundation — that it’s well on its way toward making a significant difference in academic circles.

I have contacts in academia which go back over half-a-century, and in just about each U.S. state there’s someone who believes in what Wayfinding Academy is attempting to do. Impressed, and gearing up to move in solidarity on some basis with them.

What are the key components in the institution’s agenda? I recommend that the reader check out the online presence (link) above. However, I think it’s worth noting here that I’ve never come across an educational institution which addressed what I call “self-labeling” without pulling any punches. And that’s over decades. Labeling has to do with dismissing the difficulty — or unpleasantness — of having to deal with a person, thing or event. Any subject that one pins a label on is immediately reduced to a type of some sort, a generic kind of entity which is less complicated and challenging than it would be if one truly engaged with it.

Let’s take immigrant, since it’s so much in the news today. That’s, obviously, a label, the use of which precludes really getting down with the nooks and crannies of a given individual, her or his singular nature. I think what I’m spotlighting here is fairly obvious. What Wayfinding Academy does, though, from the get go is to underscore the immense importance of students not self-labeling, not putting themselves into cookie-cutter categories.

One of Wayfinding Academy’s mantras is that we are humans to be cultivated, not objects to be sorted. And encouragement on that count is of immeasurable value in academia today, where — increasingly, to a degree that’s absolutely frightening — youngsters are insisting that teachers and administrators provide purely utilitarian tracks for their education. Liberal Arts is lost on campuses today, more and more with each passing day it’s virtually impossible to secure encouragement vis-a-vis Liberal Arts study. But Wayfinding Academy is the grand exception to that sad rule.

They are sane at Wayfinding Academy. Their point of departure for students is to press them to investigate the singularity of their individual souls. And there is a sacred dimension to that, which deserves to be honored. Which is why I am writing this piece, praying that it will be posted.

Each of the academics I alluded to at the opening of this article has asked me to circulate the good news out of Wayfinding Academy among alternative media outlets. And so I humbly and respectfully request that the reader spread the word about this modest group of educators in the state which had as its very first motto, “She flies with her own wings.”

I conclude on this note because of the recent emergence of a new Women’s Movement worldwide. And the point I want to underscore is that whereas I am all for women moving in solidarity along the lines that they seem to be doing at present, I am always wanting women and everyone to maintain respect for the ways in which macroscopic movement in solidarity can distract one from one’s singular nature, neglect the internal differences where the most personal meanings are.


Richard Martin Oxman has been an educator and activist for over half-a-century. He would be honored to speak gratis at any educational institution which makes a request at invisibleparadecall@gmail.com. He lives about one hour south of San Francisco, and — upon request — can host any initial core group meeting which might be appropriate.

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