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Gathering Information | Raising Leaders

Picking up where I left off on “The Beginning“…

After finishing A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching A Generation of Leaders For the Twenty-First Century, I knew that I had read something that would change my life. (From here on out I’ll be referring to the principles and type of education outlined in this book as TJEd.)

A few days later I was enjoying a girl’s night out with some friends {remember Jake was out of town?} . BFF Kim {although not BFF yet} was there. We were driving home together and began talking about homeschooling. I was full of optimism and hope while her emotions mirrored those I had been having a week prior: disheartened, grim, long-suffering… you know the drill.

It’s a common conversation among homeschooling moms. It’s something like, “What the heck am I doing? I have no idea. None. And it’s not working.”

Ummmm… Did I just give away a secret?

We sat in the car and talked, and talked, and talked and stayed up way too late. I chatted up TJEd and promised to lend her a copy. Once in her possession, she gulped it down as quick as I had and so the BFF came to be.

Over the last 7 1/2 years we’ve had thousands of conversations – about husbands, kids, homeschool, family, church, politics… life. I’ve loved having a best friend who has the same philosophies as I do. We may not always be using the same recipes, but we’re working out of the same cookbook.

That particular year, two of my sisters {Tressa and Tammy} were homeschooling as well. Each of us have very different parenting styles. Very. Different. Not surprisingly, we have incredibly diverse homeschooling methods as well.

As far as homeschooling went, I was the novice. Tressa had more experience than me and Tammy was the guru. We all went about homeschooling in a completely different manner. Imagine my surprise when it became known that we had each purchased a copy of the same book {A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century} at our respective curriculum fairs. And after reading it, we each knew the principles held therein were right for our families.

(A side note: since this time ALL of my sisters (all six of them) have started homeschooling. Between us we have 35 children and 2 on the way. And we ALL use the principles found within TJEd. If you knew how different we all are – you would be surprised that we could use the same set of principles in our homeschooling. But we do and it works.)

Tammy, being the guru she is, went right to work researching TJEd {Thomas Jefferson Education}. She found articles published by Oliver and Rachel DeMille (author of A Thomas Jefferson Education} on various subjects that the book had touched on. There were audio downloads on seminars that had been presented.

I should give you a little background on Tammy. She is the eldest of 10 children. And smart as a whip. Her ability to research information is second to none. Hers is the gift of remembrance. She is an avid reader/researcher and can remember what she has studied. I’m in awe of that gift.

During the weeks following my initial read of TJEd, Tammy and I had many long discussions in which she regurgitated all that she had been learning. And here is the amazing part. Despite our vast differences in parenting and teaching, we had found common ground. Common ground that we could and should adapt to our own flavor.

We had many conversations regarding the 7 Keys of Great Teaching as outlined by TJEd:

1. Classics, Not Textbooks
2. Mentors, Not Professors
3. Inspire, Not Require
4. Structure Time, Not Content
5. Quality, Not Conformity
6. Simplicity, Not Complexity
7. You, Not Them

Truly revolutionary to our way of thinking were the Phases of Learning:

Core
Love of Learning
Scholar
Depth
Mission
Impact

(*You can download a FANTASTIC two hour audio by Oliver DeMille in which he goes into detail on the 7 Keys, the Phases, as well as the 3 Types of Education. It’s so easy and enjoyable to listen to! If you are even REMOTELY interested in learning more about this type of education, please get it and listen to it.)

But we needed more. How exactly do we go about implementing the principles in the book? Tammy found information about a series of seminars at George Wythe College in St. George, Utah taught by Oliver and Rachel DeMille. Our interest was piqued.

Looking back, I’m not sure how we pulled it off. It involved being gone from our families for almost two weeks. There was not only the cost of the seminars, but also airfare from Alaska to Vegas, hotel, car rental, and food. Jake and I were in the middle of a major remodel. Tammy had 8 children at the time {she now has 10}. But we did.

It was worth all of the time, effort and money that it took to get there and learn directly from the DeMilles about how to go about implementing this type of education. That was seven years ago and a day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t used something that I learned during those two weeks.

(Lucky for you you don’t have to leave your family for two weeks to learn more. Although maybe that sounds like a good idea right about now. And if not right now, I bet by the end of the school year it would look pretty enticing.;)Since then Oliver and Rachel have complied an incredible set of resources. You can check out their website here. They are currently having a sale off of a bundle of their books. I highly recommend you check them out.)

In the meantime once I returned to North Pole, BFF Kim and I had decided to follow the advice at the conclusion of A Thomas Jefferson Education and start reading and discussing classic literature. It was just the two of us, but we had some great discussions. And we started a youth discussion group called the Young Statesmens Book Club.

Little steps with big results.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Raising Leaders.

(I’m so excited to be sharing this journey with you. I hope you are enjoying it! Please ask questions if you have them. I’d love to know what you’d like to hear about. Now that you have some background I can start talking more about the details of what we do and how it works for us. If you are anxious to do more reading now, Kim and I kept a blog for a while with some of our experience as we were figuring out TJEd in those earlier years. You can find that here. You can also read some of my homeschooling posts from my original family blog here.)

January 14, 2015 - 2:00 am

Jenni Koval - I’m listening! I just ordered the book and bought the two-hour audio. Eagerly anticipating the next installment…but I’m patient, I know you’re crazy busy right now!

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