Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Thomas Jefferson Education: Seven Principles

Today I began my educational planning for our next "school" year. Like I've said before, we are hoping to transition into a more mentoring model of learning once we move. We figure that the transition will fit nicely with our relocation. A new home, a new educational method.

Before our move, I am hoping to fully study the Seven Principles, making them like second nature. Some of the ideas put forth by Oliver Van DeMille in A Thomas Jefferson Education are so different from the type of education I received in the public school system. If you look at each of the seven principles, you will see that many of us that grew up in the public school system were taught in a way that was contrary to the way most of our Founding Fathers were taught, or rather mentored. We are hoping to break that cycle and create an educational environment in which our children will thrive.

Here is a listing of the Seven Principles that are utilized in the Thomas Jefferson Education model, written by Rachel DeMille in A Thomas Jefferson Education in Our Homes: Educating Through the Phases of Learning.

The Seven Principles of TJEd -

1. Classics, not Textbooks - learn directly from the greatest thinkers, historians, artists, philosophers, prophets and their original works.

2. Mentors, not Professors - professor/expert tells the students and invites them to conform, and grades based on the conformity. A mentor finds out the student's goals, interests, talents, weaknesses, strengths and purpose, then helps him develop and carry out a plan to prepare for his unique mission.

3. Inspire, not Require - you can inspire the student to voluntarily and enthusiastically choose to do the hard work necessary to get a great education, or you can attempt to require it of them. Ask "What do I need to do so that these students will see my example and want to do the hard work to get a superb education?"

4. Structure Time, not Content - help your student establish and follow a consistent schedule, but don't micromanage the content. Let the student pursue their chosen interests during their study time.

5. Quality, not Conformity - once the student is inspired and working hard to get a great education, the mentor should give lots of feedback and help, but not in the form of grading or otherwise rewarding conformity. Two grade choices are either "A" for acceptable, or "DA" for Do it Again. Thinking and performing is the goal, not the grade.

6. Simplicity, not Complexity - the more complex the curriculum, the more reliant the student becomes on experts. This is great for socialization techniques, but not as an educational method. Students need to develop an ability to think, independently and creatively, with the skill of applying their knowledge in order to deal with people and situations in the real world.

7. YOU, not Them - these principles are not about improving your child's education without going on the journey yourself. Focus on YOUR education and take them along for the ride. Read the classics yourself and find mentors. You do not have to be an expert, as the classics do that for you, but you need to be setting the example.

1 comment:

Gregory Dudzienski said...

Great post and inspiring list. I have to get that book now! Keep us posted on how you integrate it into you home-school pedagogy.