I mentioned in passing in my prior post from my CALawMama Blog, our homeschool has recently took a turn (an aspirational one anyway) towards A Thomas Jefferson Education, and I’d like to take the opportunity to share a bit more about what it is, for those who may be interested. Additionally, as I have begun my 7 Keys Certification process, my brain is swimming with all sorts of different information, and I need to get it out!
At it’s core, TJEd, or as my phone likes to autocorrect it TJED, is about training our children to be well read, moral, grounded, intelligent, tenacious people who have the ability to think for themselves, and who become leaders. On its face that may not sound that unlike any other garden variety homeschool program or aspiration, however, I believe TJED is different. And here’s why:
- Classics not textbooks– By focusing on the classics themselves, rather than textbooks, it requires students to push through difficult information in order to discover the depth of meaning. In addition to the mental stimulation and potential academic gains, there is also the learned persistence required in order to get through these works. Personally, I remember how wading through Heart of Darkness really changed my perception of what I could accomplish. James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was also like a mind explosion.
- The mentor system versus the typical student v. teacher relation. My AP English teacher was one of my few mentors in life. In fact, she encouraged our senior class to choose our own books on at least one project, based on our interests, and within a set of parameters for the assignment. Within that framework was when I think I read the Poisonwood Bible, or maybe that was extra credit, I can’t remember. Anyway, in her class we read so many life changing books, The Things they Carried, Othello, Portrait of the Artist, Picture of Dorian Grey, Pride & Prejudice, Madame Bovary, etc. and that was over 10 years ago! I cannot wait to share those titles with my kids, and awaken in them thoughts they didn’t realize were waiting there. That is a true education.
- Setting the example through self- education. This was one of the things about unschooling that it took me a while to realize, but is one of the central tenents of TJED, through inspire not require. You set the example for your children to find their own interests, by pursuing your own interests. As a parent, we feel that we have little to no time to dedicate to the things that we love, but as our children get older and we increasingly sneak in our hobbies & passions, they take note, and they become curious, and we are simultaneously fulfilled.
- Focus on integrity— in the core phase, which is when the kids are still little and impressionable, the focus is exclusively on developing moral character and judgment. This is reenforced by focusing on things such as good v. bad, right v. wrong, true v. false. I have often said, and deeply believe, that the single most important thing that I hope to accomplish is to raise kids that are good people. You can always take remedial academic courses, but you cannot go back and change someone’s character developed over a lifetime. When this is the main focus of your “lesson plan” you know that it is being addressed head on, rather than in addition to some pre-conceived notion of “necessary” academic checklist.
- A love of hard work-– while this has much to do with character, it is also a separate lesson that can only really be learned through experience. Recently, we had the opportunity to help a friend remove landscaping rocks from her yard. Though objectively I’m sure we weren’t that much of an added help, all three big kids dug in, literally, with shovels big and small, and helped move those rocks. And it was a good day.
- Family togetherness. This is just so important to me. It’s central to our decision to homeschool, and I believe TJED has an advantage over other methodologies in the way it integrates children in different stages of their studies. The annual project has piqued my interest to no end.
- Seasons of life. While this deals with service to others in part, it also caters to the different seasons of life, in terms of ages of children, but also in terms of what makes sense to do at certain times of the year, what families might want to encourage at different temperatures, etc.
There is so much more, but these are just some of the highlights.
Yesterday, I braved the quiet, adult section of the library, in order to pick out a copy of Jane Eyre, which I hope to get a chance to read as part of the Mentoring in the Classics group.
We have also recently been reading our way through The Violet and Green Fairy books by Andrew Lang, and even started Little Women.
It feels like such a special journey to be on with my kids and our family. 🙂
Happy Election Day!