Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Thomas Jefferson Education-Review

A Thomas Jefferson Education:
Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century
Olliver Van DeMille

(This is my original review from April 11, 2007.
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Have you ever found yourself wondering if the public school system is really the best option for your little Einstein(s)?

This topic frequents my thoughts often. Once I feel fairly certain that public schools are not for my children, I’m faced with the bleak alternatives. Private schools or Tutors, which I can’t imagine ever being able to finance and home schooling, which, well…lets he honest here, is it really an alternative? Who has the time, the patience & the know-how?

After wandering for the past couple years between these systems trying to find justification in one or the other, I stumbled across “A Thomas Jefferson Education” This book finally geared me to start asking the right questions and talking to the right people that could really help me decide how to best educate my children.

A Thomas Jefferson Education is a method of learning based on a classic/mentor model. It teaches parents or mentors how to educate using classic works in all subjects; math, language, arts, English, you name it. What I loved about this model is that the student is learning by their own will, not someone else telling them they have to. The student quickly learns that their education is their own investment, not the government’s, not their society’s, not their parent’s. The student learns because they are motivated by a great mentor to do so.

DeMille begins by raising a few concerns about the public school system. One, is the emphasis on “social” learning, which seems to be taking priority in public schools. (If you are not convinced that this is an issue, find out how many weeks if not months, your local public school spends prepping students to take and pass a national assessment test. Then ask why, if you think it’s for class placement and advancement, think again. Ask your school what it’s test scores are and then ask them what they are going to do about it? Go-a-head, ask. Once you start digging your discovery may surprise you.)

Next, in contrast to what they are learning DeMille is quite concerned with what our students are not learning. Our children are being taught to pass a test and move to the next step but they are not taught how to think and that is a scary thought when applied to the future of our Nation. Who will our children look to for the answers when they hold the highest leadership positions in business and government? They must learn to think and ask questions. A Thomas Jefferson Education teaches a student just how to do this.

This book doesn’t read like a novel so it’s not really a “page turner”. It’s a short reference guide that introduces educators to the faults in the current education systems available and teaches the reader how to implement a better system to bring up the next generation of leaders in America. I borrowed the book from a friend and then once I finished it bought my own copy because it is something I’ll want to go back to again and again. I give this book *4 & ½ stars because as stated above it’s not a page turner however I think everyone should read it so that we can begin to fix the currently broken national education system. 

*Indicates that the book was rated before February 2008 when I implemented the use of my book rating calculator.

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