Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Education ... and me

About six years ago, I read A Thomas Jefferson Education and was completely astounded, mesmerized, blown away, all of that.  The philosophy was amazing and captivating to me.  It is a must-read for anyone interested in exploring education outside the box.

And I've continued to have a small love affair with TJEd aka Leadership Education ever since, but never quite implementing the entire philosophy, never quite going all the way with it.  I read and devour everything written about it, I download the talks and other goodies which are always inspiring, and I ponder. I dream.  I pray.  I implement only what I like.  But something always holds me back from jumping all in, and I think that's a good thing.  You should be able to trust your gut, your instincts when it comes to how you foster your children's education in your own home.  Right?

Yet, there is something to be said for this TJEd way of life and I do incorporate LOTS of elements.  Maybe the purist TJEders would be offended, I don't know.  Is it possible to adopt certain ways and parts of something into your homeschool without going whole hog?  That's a good question :).

Let me begin at the beginning with TJEd, just to give you a little background.  The cornerstone principles, as explained in the book linked above, are called the "Seven Keys of Great Teaching," and here they are:

  1. Classics, Not Textbooks
  2. Mentors, Not Professors
  3. Inspire, Not Require
  4. Structure Time, Not Content
  5. Simplicity, Not Complexity
  6. Quality, Not Conformity
  7. You, Not Them

Some have added an eighth principal, that is "Secure, not Stressed."  THAT was a good idea, because implementing the principles in totality takes a great leap of faith!  

Lately, I have been VERY excited about principle #7, You, Not Them.  Essentially, you have to educate yourself before you can pass on any inspiration to others.  Ever read a classic? No? Then that's where you begin.  Ever discuss a classic with someone else? No? Then do that.  Need to inspire your kids to enjoy math? Then read a math classic and get excited about it, pass it on to your kids.  You see? Your education is really a key to your child's education.  If you are excited about something, they will want to know what all the fuss is about.  So, I continually work on my own education, and for me that has taken the form of reading classics.  I read for myself, but also with an eye to recommending it (or not) to my kids.

LOVE the Kindle for this.  Most of the classics are free downloads, so you really have a wonderful library right at your fingertips and not taking up space.  Here's a taste of what books I'm currently breathing:

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Miss B is also reading, we go to Starbucks every other Monday night to discuss the plot and characters, GREAT bonding time with my teen! This book is chalk full of tongue-in-cheek humor as it comments on charm versus virture in the Victorian era. An interesting romance! 

Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

I've just finished previewing this with kids in mind. Ms.L'Engle is one of the top ten banned authors in many Christian Schools.  Yet, the book has been critically acclaimed.  It keeps popping up as a classic and I think I would feel I was missing something by not reading. Its actually quite good!  I think it would make a great read-aloud and that way you could discuss the very few elements that might spur some questions regarding faith issues.

If Protestantism is True by Devin Rose

Hubby and I are reading/have read. This book is one of the very best Catholic apologetics books I've ever read.  Rather than bantering over this Scripture verse or that, (because you can always seem to find verses to support either viewpoint), Devin Rose uses logic and reasoning (my kinda language!) to answer common Protestant issues.  LOVE it.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I'm reading with an eye for my 12 yo son, but its going to be a no-go.  The book is disturbing to me, full of mature themes that are unpleasant, and quite a bit of swearing. I found this book suggestion among a list of "50 books for boys and young men", on the blog "Art of Manliness" HERE.  Many of the recommended books do look good though.

You, Not Them.
Enjoy the journey!!

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