Monday, March 9, 2015

A Thomas Jefferson Education

     I just finished reading the book A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century, by Oliver Demille.  Seriously life changing.  I already had radical ideas on education since I decided to homeschool, but this book has given me so much more to think about.  The best way I can describe the philosophy of education is "back to the basics."  Demille goes through the mistakes that are being made in school today and walks you through why teachers would be better off simplifying the way we educate our children.  He examines the education of our founding fathers and breaks down why they became great leaders and brilliant men with just a mentor and being exposed to classic works.
     It's obvious education has deteriorated over the years.  Way back when.. we had inventors, philosophers, artists, composers,
authors of classics, freedom leaders. These people were driven by the love for learning and motivation to acquire knowledge on their own.  My main goal is to raise my children to be happy, independent thinkers who can create their own path to success instead of relying on the paths of others.  This book reassures me that my goal is simple to achieve.
     One of the most interesting thoughts I got from this book is that education does not require more money.  It requires LESS.  Less curriculums, less supplies, less textbooks.  And get this...the things that we need more of, do not cost anything!  A teacher that is a good example, classic works to examine and read, customized goals for the individual, caring support, motivating words, etc.  Well, maybe you need to purchase a pen and paper. ;)
     I have read some critics of the book and their concerns are that the method does not produce results.  I have taken this into consideration.  However, as a homeschooler, I am well aware that each child is different and there is no one universal answer, teaching method, learning style, or philosophy that will take care of education.  Obviously, the parent must examine their circumstances and their children and their goals, in order to determine what supplemental teaching philosophies they will apply.  There are always curriculum gaps when adopting a certain method.  And in this case, I think TJed offers a philosophy of education rather than a curriculum.  These are ideas that are meant to be applied to other options.  I can see that the TJed philosophy taken at face value would probably not produce a brilliant scholar, but the concepts presented in the book are thought provoking and inspiring.  As a homeschooler, I can never get enough inspiration. :)  Remember, it's more of a pep talk than a curriculum.
     If you are having trouble moving away from conventional styles of educating, this is an amazing book to read.  It redefines our understanding of education.  The methods of teaching are so basic and brilliant.  And I love the concept of entrusting individual students to love learning and progress naturally by providing support, encouragement, and inspiration.  This is truly an inspiring book.  I highly recommend all parents to read it.  If nothing more than to ponder the different options of educating. But I am confident that anyone who reads this book will find valuable ideas and methods of teaching.