I just finished reading A Thomas Jefferson Education... and it got me excited. Now THIS is a homeschool philosophy I can relate too. Learning through reading the classics. Get a good mentor, read, discuss and write about what you read. I like it.
What are your goals for your homeschool? What is the most important thing you can teach your child. Aside from a faith in God, I'd say it is this; I want my sons to think themselves.
Leaders is what we will need in our next generations. Will the homeschool education we are giving our children develop leaders? Or followers? Someone willing to take a stand? Or someone who wants to go with the easiest route available. The book starts out asking the question. "Is a mediocre education enough?" Then challenges us that "We must do better." Give your students true leadership education and training.
Now I must say I have some reservations..... A Thomas Jefferson Education homeschool seems to be a cross between classical schooling and un-schooling. In a perfect world this would be the perfect homeschool. Your children are eager to learn everything they need and life is good!
According to Oliver DeMille.... let your students have total control of their studies. My response to this is: In a perfect world this would probably work. However in the real world it seems to me if you have a reluctant student, this student still needs to have a basic understanding of certain subjects. So on that point.... I'd have to disagree and insist upon a certain amount of study. At this point I'd have to study and ponder this a bit more.
My second reservation is that as a unashamed Jesus loving born again Christian, I must say I hesitate every time Mr DeMille says things like "God/Universe" He is very careful to be politically correct and not limit this to a Christian viewpoint. I don't disagree with that. The process can be used by anyone...with their own choices of literature. But I must admit it gives me pause.
Classic writings, great literature, biography. A great way to learn. If you think classics is restricted to old heavy intimidating books with big words and paragraph long sentences, you are wrong.
Yes some of the more challenging classics are difficult to read and understand. However, a classic is simply a book that is so well written and has such timeless value that it will be read for generations. Things like Little House on the Prairie. Or The Narnia Series are a few of the more familiar reads for children. The Little Britches Series and Self help books like Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for the older kids.
A Thomas Jefferson Education emphasizes that we as teacher/mentors MUST be learning for ourselves as examples. Our children will learn from our example as we inspire them to learn and grow. Sound intimidating? I thought so. A Thomas Jefferson Education has a plan for you to start. A mini course for the parent if you will. Choices of books to start with. And they are not the huge volumes that you may fear.
But be warned, the mini course.... grows into a lifetime of study and growth for the parent as well as the student. In fact the parent as a mentor is the most important facet of a Thomas Jefferson Education homeschool. Your students will learn from YOUR actions as a mentor.
That is where the phrase "teachers teach and students educate". You can't make your child be educated... you can INSPIRE him to educate himself. Even in my example of a reluctant student I acknowledge the fact that I can't make my student learn. I can make him sit with a textbook and prepare for a test, and that is all. He has to want to learn. According to A Thomas Jefferson Education our jobs as mentors is to "inspire not require".
To get you, the parent, started on your own education Mr. DeMille gives a suggested book list with discussion questions. The course is simple. A step one, step two type of plan. You CAN do it. I know you can.
He also encourages you to find your own classics. You will not feel like a failure if you don't read Homer's Odyssey and the Iliad this summer. Your faith and book lists may be different than Mr DeMille. Focusing on the intent...(mentoring your sons to think) and gear it toward the classics important to you.
I've just realized I've rattled on and on and haven't even told you the 3 types of educational systems discussed.
DeMille also describes four phases of learning that children go through.
These phases are well described and I can verify that I see them in my own children.
Although A Thomas Jefferson Education does emphasize excellence in education and encourages us to settle for nothing less than excellence in our children's education. I LOVE that it does not emphasize rigorous formal early education for the little guys. The advocate a gradual introduction to reading and studying as your boy is ready.
The Core Phase is a time of life lessons for your son. His self concept and self confidence will be established here. The goal is a self confident, interactive child who understands that there is right and wrong, good and bad. All this is accomplished through family work and play. NOT sitting at a desk with workbooks for hours and hours. My philosophy for homeschooling preschool and kindergarten goes right along with this.
I'd highly recommend A Thomas Jefferson Education to anyone who is not satisfied with the status quo in their homeschool. It has renewed my desire to see more literature in my sons lives and given me simple easy ideas to implement a plan.