Monday, January 17, 2011

A Thomas Jefferson Education

I've been listening to the HECOA Super Summit the past few weeks.  I actually missed last Thursday's teleconference, but was able to semi-listen to it this morning.  I'm sure any homeschooling mothers reading this will understand what I mean about semi-listen!

The speaker was Rachel DeMille.  Her husband wrote the book A Thomas Jefferson Education.  She and her husband, Oliver, now do Thomas Jefferson Education or TJEd

There was a lot of information to share.  Some things were just mentioned in passing, but she did encourage the listeners to go to the website for more details.  I visited briefly just to flesh out a few of the Keys.

She described TJEd as "leadership education." It is "an education to match our mission."  Rachel compared the educational mindset of our founding fathers compared to now.  Now, you learn for the outcomes like good grades, good job, etc.  During the founding of our country, education was looked upon as a duty: to ourselves, our country, our God, etc.

They break education down into 3 types.
1.  Conveyor Belt (stick).  Everyone is "herded" into meeting the same standards.
2.  Professional Conveyor belt (carrot).  Encouraged to learn because of the benefits or rewards.
3.  Leadership (Love Affair).  Love of learning using classics and mentors.

The next thing touched on were The Keys of Great Teaching.

1. Classics, not Textbooks.  This concept falls in line with Charlotte Mason and classical teaching.  Basically, it's the idea of using "living books."

2.  Mentors, not Professors. The idea here is that professors (teachers) teach and grade while a mentor guides and encourages.  Mentoring deals more with working with the child's strengths and weaknesses instead of certain ideas and standards.

3. Inspire, not Require.  Instead of "What can I do to get them to learn this?"  ask, "What can I do to encourage them to want to learn it?"

4. Structure time, not content.  Have a consistent schedule our amount of study time, but don't micro-manage the content.  This is also based on what learning phase the child is in.

5. Simplicity, not Complexity.  When you start something complex, it requires an expert to explain/teach it.  On the other hand, something simple allows the child to think and learn more independently.

6. Quality, not Conformity.  This key means you avoid grading and use personalized feedback to encourage quality.  George Wythe (one of Jefferson's mentors) College used A and DA. "A" meant acceptable while anything less than quality would receive a "DA" for "do it again."

7.  You, not them.  You set the example for them by your learning.  If they see you loving to learn, it will encourage them to love to learn.

Rachel went into the learning phases they use.  I didn't get all the details on these, but I'm sure you can find more details on their site.  One phase I will mention is the "Core" phase which is from birth to 8 years old.  It's when the "core" of the person is developed.  Personality and moral character develop.  The core is very important because it will stay with the individual his whole life.

When you go to the TJEd website, you can sign up for the monthly newsletter.  They also send you 5 downloadable gifts.  Most describe all this and how to put it into practice.  One of the gifts is "Let's Learn Times Table."  It's cool and informative and well worth the sign up.

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