Aristotle says that learning is one of life's greatest pleasures, and we at NELP believe that diverse kinds of learning are all valuable and pleasurable. Accordingly, we provide opportunities for NELPers to learn about things as different (or similar) as the rhythm of a poem and the song of a bird, the shaping of a piece of pottery and the shaping of a novel, the seasoning of a stew and the seasoning of a style. We believe that intellectual and physical challenges are often parallel and that each kind of learning reinforces other kinds. We try to respond to students' interests and to draw on students' abilities, harmonizing special interests with the central purposes of the program. Each year NELP is different because of the interests and talents of the participants.
Learning at NELP is steeped in nature rather than in the constructed environment of Ann Arbor. Communal living—where students and teachers share work, recreation, and academic experiences—further intensifies learning.
NELP is a cooperative community. All NELPers belong to work groups. Work responsibilities rotate among the groups, which prepare meals, wash dishes and pots, and clean bathrooms and other common areas. NELP begins with a work day during which equipment is unpacked and camp set up, and it ends with another work day to pack it all up again.
At NELP life is unified, and its rhythms are dictated by that fact, not by the demands of one or more separate parts. We live, work, relax, and study together. Life there is full, but the frantic "all nighter" is as out of place as the frenetic Ann Arbor party.
We have classes every day, but we also have opportunity for communing with nature, for quiet conversations with other NELPers, and for solitude. NELPers can find the right balance between solitude and group activity.