Thursday

Reason #2: The "Seven Keys of Great Teaching" Are Wrong

DeMille claims that he has found "Seven Keys of Great Teaching:"
"A number of years ago I helped found George Wythe College, and one of my first responsibilities was researching just how Wythe mentored Jefferson. From that intensive research, and years of additional reading and studying, I found Seven Keys of Great Teaching which form the core of great mentoring." A Thomas Jefferson Education, p. 39
Below are those Seven Keys and why I think they are wrong:


1. Classics, Not Textbooks.
It's not the classics I have a problem with, but rather the exclusion of textbooks. Textbooks are like a long tutorial, a course for helping the student gain mastery in a particular field or body of knowledge. Good textbooks build on concepts one after another in progression. They help the thinking process. Classics usually are not methodical or focus on one body of knowledge. They are broader than that. Both Textbooks and classics serve their different purposes. Just as textbooks should not be used in place of classics, neither should classics be used in place of textbooks.
"Virtually every subject is most effectively learned directly from the greatest thinkers, historians, artists, philosophers, scientists, prophets and their original works." Leadership Education, p.34
Why isn't it true that the most effective way to learn is from the greatest teacher, the one that can explain the concept the best? Newton may have been the first to write about calculus, but that doesn't mean he is the best person to learn it from. We've had hundred of years to reflect on what Newton wrote and to refine our ways to explain it. We have lots of methods and approaches to choose from, and there's no reason to think that reading Newton is the best way to learn calculus.

Also, isn't the knowledge what we want to learn? If calculus is just "true," does it matter how you learn it? If the laws of chemistry just "are" then it doesn't really matter which book you read on it, or who taught you, or really even how you learned it, as long as you learned it. Someone who masters chemistry through Cliffs Notes I think is better off than someone who reads a chemistry "classic" and ends up learn very little chemistry. It's interesting and perhaps inspiring to read the pioneers of their fields to see how they made discovers and developed theories, but that does not mean they explain them in the best way.

I think you should use both: classics for great ideas and inspiration, textbooks for mastering bodies of knowledge.


2. Mentors, Not Professors.
Most leaders in history did not have mentors for the great things they did (see previous post). This is a little bit of a quandary. The great men and women were not mentored to become great. They did not follow other people's footsteps. They blazed their own trails, went against the current, and did what they believed they should do. How do you foster that? How do you "mentor" independence and greatness? You may be able to instruct and train the individual in different aspects, but then the individual will be responsible for synergizing everything he has learned and do something great with it all. Maybe you can set the example of trying your best, believing in yourself, etc., but still the individual must go their own way, without a mentor.

Mentoring cannot take the mentee all the way he needs to go. It can only take him as far as the mentor has gone. And looking at history, the great leaders seem to all have gone way beyond any mentoring they had, if any. So I would actually not emphasize mentoring but actually foster independence, skills and knowledge that the individual could then draw on to make their own path. This is where professors help. They are experts in specific fields. They offer their expertise, and like textbooks, present the information in the optimal way in their estimation so that they can convey that expertise to the student.

I would rather encourage my student to rely on his own internal compass and go his own way, while I provide for him knowledge, skills, and experience with the help of experts in their fields. I would provide examples and exposure to great people, but I would not encourage too much mentoring.


3. Inspire, Not Require.
I've been to Basic Training. There's not a lot of "inspiring" that goes on in Basic Training. When you first get there, there are several large, angry, yelling men ordering you what to do and how to do it. When you do it wrong (and they purposefully create contradictions so that there is no way you can do it right), then they punish you. This has got to be nearly the exact opposite of the TJEd approach as there could be, and probably is not what most people would recommend for teaching children, which I would tend to agree with. But, aside from my two-year-mission, this was probably the greatest experience of my life. Let me explain.

I had a desire to serve my country. I signed up to do so knowing full well what I was getting myself into. I had talked to several people about what to expect at Basic Training. I was going on my own volition with sufficient understanding. That's important. I was not forced. I had been inspired, now I was going to be seriously required. You cannot fully appreciate many things without experiencing them yourself. Knowing something intellectually is just not the same as knowing it emotionally, or experiencing it yourself. We constantly ran to places, constantly were doing push-ups for several minutes continuously, constantly having to stand at attention and not move (sometimes for hours), marching in formation, and getting only a few hours of sleep every night. Basic Training lasted about 9 weeks and by about the end of week 2, any kind of fun being "in the Army" was over. We were convinced that they only treated us this way in the beginning, and that now that we kind of "get it," they will back off. We didn't really expect that we could last 7 more more weeks of this daily, non-stop abuse.

Well, that's not how Basic Training works. They never did let up on us. I believe that there are two main reasons why the Army treats recruits so harshly for so long, and they both have to do with ensuring the men are prepared to be effective soldiers:

1) They need to show you your weaknesses and limits. People can control their emotions and hide deficiencies if they are able to avoid having to face them. Ever know anyone who was a jerk or ignorant but because he had enough money he didn't care or maybe even acknowledge that he had any shortcomings? Well, what would happen if he lost all his money? His buffer to hide behind his faults would disappear and he would be faced with his true self, and all his shortcomings would affect him much more than before. This is one reason why they don't let you sleep in Basic Training, why they put you in such hard situations that cause you to fail, and why they make you do push ups until you hurt, bad. At that breaking point, that point where your buffer is gone, where you can't do it no matter what you try, that's when you have to decide what you are made of. You can't read that in a book. That's not someone else's experience. It's yours. And you don't know for sure what you'll do, until you are at that point. You don't know what it feels like, until you feel it. The Army brings you to that point, repeatedly, and you understand what your deficiencies are, and you know yourself much better.

2) The other main reason I think is that the Drill Sergeant needs to give you new boundaries and expectations. Whenever you go anywhere in Basic Training, you march, or run in formation. Before you march you have to form up. The men will not form up correctly, or fast enough, so the Drill Sergeant will require them to do push-ups, or some other equally difficult physical exercise, in cadence, with the proper vocalization from all participants, in the proper manner, or else you get in deeper trouble and have to do it for longer or in a more difficult way. This is constant for everything in Basic Training. It gets really old when you haven't slept in days and the Drill Sergeant won't let you go to the Mess Hall because all 60 men formed up in 20 seconds instead of 19 seconds, and one guy was a half-inch out of line (this is really how it is). You are constantly "getting smoked." Terrible, right? Mean Drill Sergeants, right? Let me describe a turning point for me and the other guys in Basic Training.

Periodically you have physical fitness testing in Basic Training which for us was push-ups, sit-ups and a 2-mile run. Most athletes probably would say that you shouldn't over-exert yourself too soon before your race or meet or whatever. Not so in Basic Training. About 2/3 of the way through Basic Training, we were in the barracks and the Drill Sergeant came bursting in yelling and telling us how we'd screwed up something. We knew what was going to happen. We were going to have to stand at attention by our bunks and then we were going to get "smoked." and this was the night before a big physical fitness test. The Drill Sergeant had often said, "I want to see the walls sweat," and that usually meant we were going to get smoked for awhile.

But a remarkable thing happened. The Drill Sergeant made us do push-ups, then sit-ups, then jumping-jacks "in cadence" over and over and over, like usual. But this time we were keeping up with him. As it went on we got louder and louder, did more and more push-ups, etc. We started chanting "you can't smoke a rock." This went on so long that the Drill Sergeant got tired and stopped barking commands and we did them ourselves, to ourselves. He left and went into his office and we just kept on going doing push-ups, and sit-ups, in the cadence that had been going on. We did this for 3 hours with no break. Near the end the Drill Sergeant came back out of his office and told us to look at the walls. They were wet and dripping with condensation from the heat of our bodies. The walls were sweating. We had always thought this was some colorful and exaggerated expression that Drill Sergeants liked to use for emphasis about how hard they were going to smoke us. But it actually happened. He ordered us to stop and go to bed, and we all cheered in defiance that we didn't want to. But we did comply and we went to bed. The next day at the physical fitness test, we were all bursting with confidence. It was noticed by other Drill Sergeants and trainees. I don't remember the scores, but I think they were pretty good.

The Drill Sergeants were not allowed to physically touch us. Everything they required us to do was through non-physically-forced means. They always said the quickest way out of Basic Training was to graduate, because if you wanted to quit, they would just send you over to the "Quitter's Barracks" to await out-processing, which of course took months, longer than Basic Training itself, and you spent your time doing nearly the same thing as you did before you quit, or else you got thrown into a hard-labor military prison. So, we were all highly-motivated to get through it all. There really was no other way out. So all those push-ups, and all those times we got "smoked" they never touched us. In fact, I think the only physical contact I had with my Drill Sergeant was when I shook his hand when I got my completion certificate at graduation. And you can imagine what it felt like for him and me to shake hands at this moment. He didn't care about any of our whining and he totally ignored our views on what we thought our limits were. So I thank my Drill Sergeant for inspiring me and molding me. All he did was require me to do things. But through being compressed and put through the refiners fire, I came out a much better man. Lots of trainees wanted to be Drill Sergeants after this experience, myself included.

How far should these lessons from Basic Training be carried over to education? Children are not at the same level of maturity or emotional stability as recruits so definitely a Basic Training atmosphere would be in appropriate for children. We were of age, had been checked by doctors and cleared to participate in Basic Training, and we all volunteered. However, I think there's still something to be said of the benefit of requiring students to perform and achieve at certain levels. This requires judgment and wisdom of course, as every child and situation is different, but that's not a refutation of the principle of requiring, just that you need to be wise in doing it. I gained huge amounts of inspiration to push myself and achieve from the requirements of Basic Training that still affect me today. Doing your best, then blowing through that and excelling even farther is exhilarating. Often a person cannot simply inspire themselves to get to that point. They need help from outside. That's what coaches do. They observe the athlete and require them to perform better.

I think you need to both inspire and require the student. Inspire them to be required by you to achieve, in wisdom and being sensitive to the specific attributes of the child. I didn't like my Drill Sergeant initially, but quickly I began to trust him. I trusted that he would never make me do anything dangerous and I trusted him that he knew how to train me to become and effective soldier. I think this is important for children. They need to trust that you know what you are doing in requiring them to do things. If they believe that it will result in success or achievement, they will do it. And after a few times of this pattern with you (you require, they do it and observe the progress), they will be much more likely to accept requirements from you in the future. If you say, "now if you do this course, you will be able to do this other thing" and they try it and see that you were right, they will be inspired to have you give them requirements to do things, in wisdom and not going overboard of course.

We are required to do lots of things in life, aren't we? I'm required to make money for my family. I am required to do some boring, non-inspiring things as part of that. We are required to clean up after ourselves. We are required to get along with others. We have obligations. I think there is some value in knowing how to deal with being required to do things, including things you don't want to do. Like anything else this can be taken to the extreme, but on both ends: of always requiring the child to do things, and never requiring the child to do things.

One last point on this. Doesn't Heavenly Father require things of His children? Has He not set requirements for being able to return and live with Him? There are requirements to be baptized and certain conditions must be met before you can do that. There are requirements for a young man to be able to bless and pass the sacrament, and for members to partake of the sacrament. There are requirements that have to be met before you go to the temple. All commandments could be seen as requirements. But the Lord's pattern seems to be to an establish standards and requirements, but not force us to do them, yet we are blessed by complying, We have to work out our own salvation which includes satisfying those requirements and being obedient. It's up to us, yet the Lord doesn't leave us alone to figure it out. He provides scriptures and inspiration and revelation, teachers, programs, and leaders. He establishes the requirements, explains them to us, doesn't force us to comply, and provides all sorts of help along the way. I think this is a model to emulate when it comes to requiring our children to do things.




4. Structure Time, Not Content.
I think the exact reverse is the way to go. Don't public schools just structure the day with bells every hour, where you have to be in class regardless of whether you are learning anything? What if it took you 3 days to learn your times tables? Do it, master it, move on or take a break. I think it's better to explain to the child what things she should read or learn and then set a goal of when she will have it done. Then let her figure out when to do it. And if she finishes early, then she can play around for awhile. (The next time, though, shorten the goal time). This will not quash any curiosity to learn. By structuring content, you are not saying that this is all there is to learn, just that this thing is required. Leave unstructured time for her to explore and think about things, tinker and experiment with things, but make sure she has some things that she needs to learn. If this is coupled with what I describe in the "Require" section above, she will trust you when she sees improvement and progress.

I think it's helpful to have a sort of roadmap of the body of knowledge being learned. For example, for math, go over the different topics, like fractions, and graphs, and equations. Expose her to the things she will be learning and explain how she needs to master certain concepts before she can do those later exercises. Help her see where she is on the map, where she's been and where she's going. Haven't you ever looked at a university course catalog and thought, "that class looks, great. What are the prerequisites?" And then you consider taking the prerequisites so that you can take that great class? That's the same kind of idea I am describing for showing kinds a roadmap of things to learn within a certain body of knowledge.

This is easier to do for some topics, like math, but harder for others, like history or literature. I think it's not a bad idea to make up a roadmap with your child and for your child for the year or longer. Wanna to learn about Chaos Theory? Gotta get that Newtonian Physics down first. Wanna learn to paint life-like scenes? Gotta learn some color theory first, and perspective, and shading. In fact, just the other day I told my kids that if they finish a certain piano book to the satisfaction of their mother, then they can play whatever other instrument they want and I'll get them the instrument and the lessons. That's is not to say they would never be allowed play another instrument unless they finish that book. Just that if they did finish that book it would demonstrate a level of proficiency of reading music and playing the piano so I would be convinced that they would be ready to try something else. And they can do this whenever and as early as they want. It's a standing offer. I'd love my five-year-old to tell me she finished the book and wants to try the flute or whatever. (One exception: the harp is out of the picture. Daddy doesn't make that much money). So in a sense I structured the content by requiring things to must be learned in order to be on the fasttrack to do something else, and they are working towards it. But note that I am not requiring them to finish the piano book, but if they do, they automatically get to try another instrument, whereas they might have to wait longer otherwise. I don't think that's harsh or a punishment at all, but in fact motivating.


5. Quality, Not Conformity.
DeMille only give two levels of evaluation of work by the student:
"When Scholars do an assignment, either say 'great work' or 'do it again.'... "For homeschoolers, don't give them grades. Just 'great work' or 'do it again.' A Thomas Jefferson Education, p.46

And DeMille is not being figurative, he really means you either give a "GW" or "DA." I don't think this gives enough feedback or measurable evaluation. One thing a teacher or mentor does for the student is help give perspective on how well the student did on the assignment. I think it's good to have some sort of grading scheme that is known to the student so that they can really gauge how well they did. This will help both with the students tracking his own improvement over time, and with comparing his work to the work of others. I am not saying that the point is to compare his work to others, but there is benefit in knowing how well it compares. That's what happens in the real world, isn't it? People's works are evaluated and compared and usually the one with the highest rating wins.

I'm not a big fan of competition, but I do recognize that the Olympic athletes probably would not excel as much as they do if they didn't know that the guy in Lane 4 runs it in under 52, or the tall girl from Sweden can clear 6 foot (or whatever). The focus for the child is not competing against others, but a measure of excellency and improvement. People say you can't improve if you don't measure and track performance over time, and you can't measure very well with a "GW" or "DA." I think every parent should figure out what measure is appropriate for their child, but I do think there should be some form of grading and measurement.


6. Simplicity, Not Complexity.
I agree that there should be simplicity in curriculum and schedule, but some topics are complex. Since DeMille just uses terms in the "Seven Keys" and not statements, it's hard to comment on this because it is vague. There's not really an assertion here. I guess my only comment is that this only refers to the structure around the schooling of the child, not what the child is actually learning.


7. You, Not Them.
This is totally backwards. No, it is all about them. DeMille says to "set the example." Well of course, but that's way different then only focusing on yourself. Those of you unfamiliar with TJEd will probably be surprised to find to what extent DeMille argues this point. He really means that you should not spend time actively helping your child to learn. You only focus on your own education. He argues that what will happen is that the child will observe you studying and then will want to study himself at which point you can converse with the child on what he has read. It is absolutely passive in the extreme, and the child decides what, when, and how he wants to study, if at anything, because you should not make the child study if he doesn't want to.
"In fact, education is very, very simple. Teachers set the example by reading, pondering, writing about and discussion classics, and sharing their loves, interests and ideas with students. And students get inspired, go to work, find the study difficult, and go back to the teacher for encouragement. When they get it, they return to the difficult process of learning. Learning is difficult, but the process is not complex." A Thomas Jefferson Education, p. 72

"If you are wondering how to get students to read Newton, you are asking the wrong question. The question is: Have you read Newton? If you haven’t, you’ve got some homework.” A Thomas Jefferson Education, p.85

"Focus on your education, and invite them along for the ride." Leadership Education, p.37 (emphasis original)

"Afternoons are for setting the example...When fingers get too cold from the snow or pants too fund of sand, little feet trudge back into the house to find Mom reading a current bestseller or with a worn classic in her lap, following up on family duties, studying Hebrew or French, researching current events online or corresponding with one of her many friends, or on the phone arranging a service opportunity. In such examples, lessons are taught." Leadership Education, p.84 ,85

"Teachers are to educate themselves, and to inspire others. This is what teaching means; it is what teaching is. When teachers inspire, students study." Leadership Education, p. 85-86

"If you don’t read math classics, how can inspire him to read them? You can’t? The answer to the question, “How do I actually do it?” is that you get started. You don’t have to be an expert to teach well, you don’t have to have a degree or years of experience teaching the subject, but you do have to read the classics, get excited about them, and pass your enthusiasm and new knowledge to the student.” A Thomas Jefferson Education, p.73

"Don’t permit the student to attempt to write about something that doesn’t interest her. This is a dead end of frustration and bad habits." A Thomas Jefferson Education, p.79

"Plutarch, Gibbon, Toynbee, Durant. Have you heard of these authors? Have you read them? If not, they are a great start to your study of history. You must study if you plan to teach.” A Thomas Jefferson Education, p8.2

"In a seminar, right about now I would likely be hearing the question again: "But how do I actually do this?" Almost every time people ask this specific question, they are either happy with the process and just want to improve, or they are struggling with the process because they aren’t personally reading the classics. Consider a typical dialogue: "
"But how do I actually do it?"
"How are you doing it now?"
"Well, he reads lots of books, many of them classics."
"Do you read them too?"
"Well, some of them."
"Okay, which ones have you read this month?"
The question is usually followed by a nervous silence, then:
"Okay, I know the classics thing. But how do we really make this work?"
"You read the classic. Your student reads the classic. You discuss it. He writes a report on it and you discuss it together. He gives an oral report to the class or family and you discuss that. You get other classmates or family members to read it and you meet for a group discussion. But of course none or this works unless you read it."
"But what about things like math?"
"Exactly the same. I assume you are asking me because a student of yours is struggling with math, right?"
"Right. He reads classics and lots of things but I can’t get him to read math classics."
"What was the last math classic or textbook that you read?"
"Uh..."
Almost nobody has an answer for this. If you haven’t read math classics, it’s almost impossible to teach math through the classics." A Thomas Jefferson Education, p.72
This is way different that "don't push the kid too far" or "don't ignore your own education" or even "the child will be more likely to want to study if you like to study." This pendulum has swung far to the other side. You are the adult. You are the parent. You are in charge of the curriculum for your child. Of course you don't want to impose some terrible, arbitrary course of study and make your child hate you and schoolwork. But the answer is not to abandon it completely. With DeMille's approach, somehow the child will just be inspired to study by seeing you study (especially in the afternoon, when you cleverly read a bestseller in eyesight). Somehow this is supposed to be an "individualized" approach for the child, but it really just leaves the education up to the child entirely. The child will somehow have the ability to judge all the things that are important for him to learn now, how he should learn them, and at what pace. I think that is the job of the parent or teacher.

There is a terrible side effect of this "You, Not Them" principle. It does often end up as ignoring the child's learning. I have observed this from people I know. DeMille even addresses this:
"The sad reason that people think Love of Learning [elementary school-age learning level] is "easy" is that they have been brainwashed by the conveyor belt [public education]. When they hear "Inspire, Not Require," their brains are so conditioned against combining "inspire" with "education" that they actually go home remembering something very much like "ignore, not require." Leadership Education, p. 86
If you go look around at the internet discussion boards for TJEd (like here, here, here, and here) and look at the TJEd seminar classes, you will see that many parents doing TJEd are concerned that their kids just aren't doing anything. Often the time the advice they get is to just keep focusing on yourself and the child will eventually come around.

I think it is a shame that these little spirits come down from Heavenly Father to these loving homes that have the Gospel, and whose parents have the courage to teach them at home...and the parents don't do anything! What a waste! Can you imagine Joseph Smith staying with you for a month and he just reads the Book of Mormon in front of you? Wouldn't you want him to teach you at least some things he had learned? I don't know if I would know what to discuss with him. I would hope he would expound on some things I had never considered. I see parents in a similar way. You have grown up and gone through childhood, puberty, dating, marriage, possibly college, and child-rearing. You have so many more life experiences and you have seen what works and what doesn't, and you have opinions and ideas about the best way to do some things. Share them with your child, even if he doesn't ask you. He's a kid, and is trying to figure out the world. I don't think he needs to figure out his own education too, when he's only 9.

Your child is your opportunity to help them be better than you, to not make the same mistakes you did, to take those chances that you didn't take. This requires lots of active effort and instruction by you. You are not there just to inspire or wait for questions. You think about what you want your child to know, what is the best way to learn it (your best guess), what you can do to inspire the child to do the necessary work, and then you either give the instruction, or find someone or something else to provide the instruction. That's your obligation as a parent. If your child can do a lot of self-directed instruction than that's fine, but it's not a superior principle of education. When I want to learn something, sometimes I figured it out on my own, sometimes I buy a book on it, sometimes I take a course on it, sometimes I find someone to teach me. It's still self-directed by me. However, I've been around longer than my child, and I am in a much better position to make an evaluation of what to learn and how to learn it. Not only do I need to help my child to know what to learn, but also how to learn it. The child has say in all this of course, but I must offer and explain what I think will be the most beneficial and the most effective. I need to be continually evaluating what I am encouraging my child to learn and how he is learning. That is true mentoring, and parenting, to me.

Don't waste the opportunity to teach your child what you know. You can figure out how to keep alive the interest of learning without abandoning him to work it all out himself. Teach him what you know, and find ways for him to learn the things you don't know. Don't have him say in twenty years that you never taught him anything, or that he never knew you thought that way, or that he wishes you had taught him something earlier so he would have avoided repeating some mistake you had also made. It's all about him.

The burden of proof is on DeMille and George Wythe College
DeMille repeatedly makes the claim that these Seven Keys are what has fostered great leaders and what will foster great leaders. But there is no evidence that this is the case. I've read two books and several other publications from DeMille and George Wythe College on the Thomas Jefferson Education and they make no effort to actually show that these really are the Seven Keys of Education. It's an assumption that never is proved. All DeMille says is that he discovered these principles after "intensive research, and years of additional reading and studying." Well, let's see the research.

I am not arguing with history when I challenge the Seven Keys. History agrees with me. And I think people ought to first check out DeMille's claims that the Seven Keys are really even true, let alone used by Jefferson or anyone else in history. The burden is on them. Lots of ink has been spilled and speeches and classes given on all this, yet not even an attempt to convince, let alone prove. Just assertions.

13 comments:

Redneckliber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rusty said...

I remember having many of the same concerns as you when I first was introduced to the 7 keys. The only way to implement these (and you will be sick of hearing this) is to use the guidance of your source of truth and then to individualize to each child. These are guidelines and even I would say on a continuum. It is not an all or nothing.
1. Classics, not textbooks
You don’t have to say I will never use a textbook because DeMille said it is wrong. In fact in his book he actually lists Saxon Math (which is a series of textbooks) and The Story of Civilization, by Durant (which is more textbook than original source) as classics? (see previous post for description of classics) Obviously there is much room for the parent to select the sources they feel are most appropriate. You as a parent/learner have done just that. Bravo!
2. Mentors, not professors
See previous post for definition of mentors. You described what mentor does well “Maybe you can set the example of trying your best, believing in yourself, etc., but still the individual must go their own way, without a mentor.” I think you are describing a student moving from scholar phase into depth phase. They have a foundation of knowledge now they apply that to their mission.
Here is another great description of mentoring as you explained it “I would rather encourage my student to rely on his own internal compass and go his own way, while I provide for him knowledge, skills, and experience with the help of experts in their fields. I would provide examples and exposure to great people” That is mentoring at it’s best. You are individualizing and guiding them to resources they need. It sounds like you are a mentor!

3. Inspire not Require
This was my biggest complaint with TJEd when I started. I agree that it’s important to inspire, but I felt like sometimes you have to require. I still do. I require my kids to be respectful, kind, obedient, responsible, etc. It’s not optional if they obey certain guidelines in our home, however we try to give them many opportunities to make choices and learn at their own pace and in their own areas of interest. I agree with your statement “I think you need to both inspire and require the student. Inspire them to be required by you to achieve, in wisdom and being sensitive to the specific attributes of the child.” Well said. That is I believe what most TJEders are trying to do, but this is a paralyzing point for many of them. I agree that too many of them out of fear of requiring ignore. But that doesn’t mean the principle is wrong, just that they don’t know how to inspire so they just give up. Inspiring is hard work it is a step beyond just saying “what do you want to do?” You must orchestrate an environment that encourages and guides kids to choose to study and learn. Most of the time this overwhelms parents.
The general principle is that children learn best in a loving inspirational environment of trust versus a demanding dictator-like relationship, especially in their early formational years. When a student is in scholar phase the experience you had with your drill sergeant is more typical, but still there needs to be a foundation of trust before this can be effective. As you stated, “They need to trust that you know what you are doing in requiring them to do things. If they believe that it will result in success or achievement, they will do it. And after a few times of this pattern with you (you require, they do it and observe the progress), they will be much more likely to accept requirements from you in the future. If you say, "now if you do this course, you will be able to do this other thing" and they try it and see that you were right, they will be inspired to have you give them requirements to do things, in wisdom and not going overboard of course.”
I think your description of our relationship with Heavenly Father is exactly right. I think we are debating semantics. God gives us “requirements” and yet he doesn’t “require” that we keep them. He simply says if you choose not to then you don’t receive the benefit (in hopes of “inspiring” us to choose to keep the requirement). Isn’t this the issue of agency? If you force your child to do something you take away their agency and initiative, if you guide, direct and inspire you allow them the opportunity to grow and learn. On the continuum of inspire vs require there is room for both it is more about your attitude than the specifics of how you teach. You seem to have a handle of implementing this in your family well.

4. Structure time, not content
Once again this is a spectrum. Diann Jeppson who co-authored the TJEd home companion, is the president of AYLI which sponsors TJEd clubs and sponsors the annual TJEd Forum in Salt Lake each year does an excellent job of describing what you are saying. She too uses a “master plan” to help guide her children and expose them to new things. Every family “does TJEd” in their own way. I don’t think this principle means we don’t give structured content, but that as you said we provided some time that is set aside for learning and explorations that AREN’T structured. In our home this means that mornings are for school- no distractions, no tv, computer, video games, friends, etc. Some of this time includes structured content- devotional, mom school, etc. and then the children have their daily “requirements” we call them stewardships that we expect them to complete before school is over.
In your words, “explain to the child what things she should read or learn and then set a goal of when she will have it done. Then let her figure out when to do it. And if she finishes early, then she can play around for awhile.” I love goal setting. That allows kids to learn the time management skills so important to success as an adult. I don’t think your approach is so different from most TJEd families in this area.

5. Quality, not Conformity
Perhaps this is one area where you differ from me significantly. None of my children are in scholar phase and as DeMille points out this principle is selective to scholar phase, but I think as a society it is detrimental to give distant evaluations of worth. I agree that if all you do is give a DA or GW it’s not helpful, but likewise an A,B,C,D,F isn’t helpful either. As you said, “I don't think this gives enough feedback or measurable evaluation. One thing a teacher or mentor does for the student is help give perspective on how well the student did on the assignment.” It is the discussion that provides growth. That being said I don’t want my kids doing good work to get a grade. I want them to do good work because it is important to THEM. They need to see that their work is a reflection of them and that doing their best is what matters. It is helpful to compare only in the sense that it allows them to progress. I think too often kids are taught to jump through hoops to get the grade- I know that’s what I did in school. Any measurement of progress should be against yourself and your desired goals.
I think you are taking this point to the extreme. A mentor is not a rubber stamp. He or she individualizes the program and curriculum; it seems silly to assume they would not provide feedback and guidance. That being said there may be times when it is valuable for a scholar age student to get a DA without feedback and then to go back with a critical eye over their work to try and determine how he/she could improve. This develops the skills of self assessment that are important in our daily lives. However, I don’t believe a mentor would do this until a student has had sufficient guidance it what is expected.

6. Simplicity, not Complexity
Yes I think you are right on this. Simplicity in structure, time, and activities, versus content. Life is Complex 

7. You, Not Them
I have a complaint about how this principle is implemented in a lot of homes as well. I think too many parents choose to ignore.
Obviously as a parent our lives are dedicated to the well being of our children. I can’t imagine a parent choosing to homeschool that doesn’t put their children first. I mean if they go to school you don’t have to worry about all of this responsibility. Your days are free to pursue whatever you choose. I think you have misrepresentd what DeMille is saying in this principle however, “He really means that you should not spend time actively helping your child to learn. You only focus on your own education.” I’m not sure why you would say that? Later you contradict this by quoting DeMille on the issue of “ignoring” vs inspiring. Clearly if DeMille feels the need to clarify this he doesn’t advocate ignoring or abandoning. Inspiring is work, ignoring is laziness.
Don’t take this to the extreme. I think you are taking a few quotes and blowing them out of proportion. I think your statements, "don't push the kid too far" or "don't ignore your own education" or even "the child will be more likely to want to study if you like to study," Actually are what he is saying. Set an example of learning and serving. Be excited about pursuing an interest. Don’t do it because you have to or as a set-up, but find something that you are sincerely interested in and include your kids in it. I have found that almost anything I study with my kids they love. Not because I make them but because they catch my enthusiasm. If it isn’t fun and interesting to you they will sense that and respond to it.

That being said I believe there are families that have out of misunderstanding or feeling overwhelmed taken the passive ignore approach. I don’t think they are unconcerned or selfish, but just at a loss as how to guide and inspire. It is a shame. It makes the parent unhappy and does nothing for the children. It is the parents “JOB” to help children learn and if the parent doesn’t want the job they can send their kids to school or hire a teacher. As you said, “This requires lots of active effort and instruction by you. You are not there just to inspire or wait for questions. You think about what you want your child to know, what is the best way to learn it (your best guess), what you can do to inspire the child to do the necessary work, and then you either give the instruction, or find someone or something else to provide the instruction. That's your obligation as a parent.” AMEN! Perhaps those parents who have mastered these skills can provide some guidance to those who struggle in this area.

One further point that I would add to your concerns that you don’t address is the tendency of some TJEd families to neglect their responsibilities to care and teach their children because they have to “fulfill their mission.” This is a bigger concern to me because these parents understand how to inspire and have the skills and knowledge, but choose to do something else instead. “No success can compensate for failure in the home.” I won’t pretend to know all the answers, but I worry when I see parents choosing to go back to school or choosing to do community service to the neglect of their children. It happens. There are some families that maintain the balance and can do both, but it is HARD. If people who are struggling with the basics of homeschooling try to add “mission” into their life it can be a recipe for disaster. The greatest mission we can fulfill at this time and season is to be there for and with our children.

As you state, “Don't waste the opportunity to teach your child what you know. You can figure out how to keep alive the interest of learning without abandoning him to work it all out himself. Teach him what you know, and find ways for him to learn the things you don't know. Don't have him say in twenty years that you never taught him anything, or that he never knew you thought that way, or that he wishes you had taught him something earlier so he would have avoided repeating some mistake you had also made. It's all about him.” Although I would say it is all about US! Our family and what we can learn and do TOGETHER!

The Burden of Proof
I believe that the burden of proof is not on DeMille, but on the parents. I don’t take anything said by anyone as truth until I have filtered it through my personal source of truth. I read the seven keys I compared it to what I’ve learned from the scriptures and writings of general authorities. I have taken it to the Lord and asked for His guidance on the matter. Research is just research. Plenty of research and experts have been proven wrong after being widely accepted. I believe the proof is in the guidance of the spirit and the confirmation of experience. As I studied “the keys” I didn’t think that this was the answer to everything, but I did think they added value to what I wanted to do in my family. I apply them in the way I feel directed by the Lord. Each family should do the same.
Who cares what DeMille says? What does the Lord say? If there is truth find it and use it, if not discard it.
Cindy Clarke

Truth said...

Cindy -

"Who cares what DeMille says?"

There are people out there who follow DeMille like he is a religious leader. Trust me, I know some personally. That's why what the man says matters. You may be able to sift through the garbage and find pieces of truth, but others may not be as keen and may actually take what DeMille says literally, e.g. Classics not Textbooks. Education is certainly a high-stakes issue for children; if we as parents screw it up for them, they will likely suffer for it the rest of their lives. Here's an extreme example: I listened to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak today at the U.N. Some of the things he said were actually true. Most was garbage. That doesn't mean I will start following his speaking and writing in the hopes of discovering more truth in his communications.

Now I'm by no means calling DeMille an evil person, but I think you get the point.

Alison Moore Smith said...

You must orchestrate an environment that encourages and guides kids to choose to study and learn.

I find the "orchestration" tedious and inefficient. Not to mention manipulative and at least slightly dishonest. It harkens a great deal to the old unshcooling ideas that dismiss giving a child a book to read and, instead, promote planting the book in a place the child will find it or ooohing and ahing about a book in hopes the child will beg to read the book.

Honestly, if you can't TALK to your children and explain the value of particular things--and have that be motivating enough for them to act on consequential issues--it's a problem in the RELATIONSHIP.

J.L.L said...

rusty\cindy, I appreciate what you wrote about the keys. I think what that shows is that you and other parents deviate from what DeMille teaches. I think it shows that the keys are not really keys. It's not that parents have the freedom to adapt them in TJEd, but rather that parents largely reject the keys in many aspects.

When people tell me they are doing TJEd, but they don't really adhere to things like the keys or they question them or modify them for their family, I don't understand why those parents still believe those aspects of TJEd. If you have problems with the keys, why do you even believe they are keys? This is what I am getting at. I know a lot of parents don't do TJEd like DeMille says you should, yet they don't still accept DeMille's assertions of how you should do TJEd.

I must say, though, you are one of the few people doing TJEd that have actually given a response that really was about the thing taught in TJEd. I thank you for that.

Donna said...

Truth without its wise and proper application is far more valuable than just truth alone. Gaining wisdom to apply truth comes by study and by faith.

Truth-
You ask what matters what DeMille says?

Well, this entire blog and the energy put into posts and responses deal specifically what portions of what DeMille has said.

The only reason why responders bring up other things he has said shows that there has been cherry picking here and a bit of narrow interpretation to make a point.

For instance, the original post had statements that were not all inclusive that were quoted and then restated to be all inclusive.
That is blatant in misrepresentation of both the original statement and the larger context of continued dialog by D.
There is a difference between leaders and all leaders. To take a statement that merely says leaders and impose and "all leaders" upon it and then attack it. You are misrepresenting and that is what some deem malicious.
When called on it, you ignore it and simply look for another bone to pick.

Then to also cherry pick statements out of a larger body and context of statements that would give the reader a fuller picture and state that the statement is DeMille's view is ignoring other things he has said.

All-
Yes, it has taken more than a book to articulate ideas. It would take anyone that and more to articulate all the ins and outs of current public school education, and all the factors that can impact success therein.

I, myself started out usind Glenn Doman in 1982. I became quite eclectic seeing no perfect curriculum out there and realizing that a perfect, one-sized-fits all curriculum cannot exist. I began using Charlotte Mason ideas in 1994. I read her works and argued with some point but did not throw out the baby with the wash water. A few months later I came across TJEd. I used CM and TJed principles in tandem.

The foundational Pillars are classics, mentors, simulations, field experience and
God.

I agree with President Benson that without God in the equation we can produce clever devils. So God has always played an important role in my mothering and education.

Point one, DeMillie himself has stated that some textbooks qualify as classics. I feel that is due to the quality and effectiveness of some. However, many I have viewed are very poorly written.

I see the sense in not just teaching the math facts. It is in context of seeing what problems were faced and what has been tried that new solutions can be made. Sir Andrew Wile would have never solved Fermat's last theorum had he not read about the history. Many people thought it was unsolvable and tried to persuade him to give up. He was 10 when introduced to the theorum and start with using methods found in his textbooks. The textbooks fell short. He studied what other great minds had done on the subject.

Mentors play important roles. The spirit is a mentor only if you treat Him like one. Parents can be mentors, but sadly many abdicate. There are formal mentors. There are Life mentors. There are Liberal Arts Mentors that guide people into the world of great ideas. There are mission mentors within the specific field one is in. Again, they can have a formal contractual agreement or they can be informal.

J.L.L said...

"The only reason why responders bring up other things he has said shows that there has been cherry picking here and a bit of narrow interpretation to make a point.

For instance, the original post had statements that were not all inclusive that were quoted and then restated to be all inclusive.
That is blatant in misrepresentation of both the original statement and the larger context of continued dialog by D."

Donna, c'mon. DeMille says "nearly all leaders of the past." If I can find more than a few leaders that don't match DeMille's claims then that disproves his claims! That's not a blatant misrepresentation. I'm calling out your hypocrisy. DeMille uses Joan of Arc as one who had studied the classics but she didn't and you brushed that aside as if it didn't matter. Then you claim that I am blatantly misrepresenting facts?

"Then to also cherry pick statements out of a larger body and context of statements that would give the reader a fuller picture and state that the statement is DeMille's view is ignoring other things he has said."

The quotes are not out of context. The context is just wrong.

Donna, I took what DeMille wrote in his publicly available books. I don't doubt that the seminars would give different spins on some things. But that would then just go against the very clear ideas and messages in the book. DeMille repeats his ideas throughout the books, which is why there are multiple quotes supporting almost all the points that I addressed in the blog.

It's not my fault he teaches things that are false.

Donna said...

Proof-texting.

If we are going to discuss anything, it must be in the full light of all that he teaches, not the straining at the gnat.

I do not expect the two books to articulate things in detail but to give me a picture and if I want more I can pursue it.

Suffice it to say that Jefferson was the model student. No where did he imply that others had equal. Jefferson was an ideal.

Classics, Mentors, Simulations, Field Experience and God were tools or methods George Wythe used with those he mentored, and Jefferson is one of several he mentored that signed the Declaration.

Donna said...

"I think it is a shame that these little spirits come down from Heavenly Father to these loving homes that have the Gospel, and whose parents have the courage to teach them at home...and the parents don't do anything! What a waste!"

You do not know this. You cannot paint everyone with a broad brush, just because you may know someone who does not.

The seven keys are applied at different phases of development differently.

"You, not them" has to do with not letting academic focus take center stage with children who are not yet accountable, developmentally, basically those who are under eight. I was born before academic preschool and daycare were the norm. I was a young mother when President Benson spoke to the parents of the church in a Parenting Fireside, called "To the Mothers in Zion. "The following quote was made in 1981. As we can see, today, research is validating the prophetic statement.

"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.

We become enamored with MEN’S THEORIES such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother’s influence. . . .

It is mother’s influence during the crucial formative years that forms a child’s basic character.

HOME is the place where a child learns faith, feels love, and thereby learns from mother’s loving example to choose righteousness.

How vital are mother’s influence and teaching in the home — and how apparent when neglected!”

President Ezra Taft Benson, (Nov 1981 Ensign p104)

Those who were raised in preschools, day care, and those who were latch key, know only their personal experience. We no have a generation of children that the4 press has dubbed the "entitled generation." Not everyone of course, but enough to give the rest a bad name. Many of these children did not have their early character formed in the home, working along side of parents, learning to serve each other. They were busy elsewhere being plied with facts, socializing, and being entertained.

As workers the "entitled" are know for their lack of work ethic and lack of loyalty. As parents they struggle trying to hurry and hothouse their children.

In "you, not them" you are focusing on making sure you are ahead with your education, yes, setting the tone for the home.

Actually, I pity the child of God who comes down to a home where the Gospel is and has the Gospel limited to a few check off activities.
FHE check.
Scripture Study Check.
Church check.
These things need to be happing, but there is far more.

The Family guide Book is the perfect Core Phase Manual.

Wise parents are working with their children and not just assigning tasks. Independence will grow as children mature.

One thing we have lost in the Harried Child syndrome is identity. Identity that arises out of working and talking and building relationships while you work together. Another things we have lost is a work ethic. Work used to be the centerpiece and it has been replaced with entertainment.

No, these parents that are judged as doing nothing, as wasting their children's life, are laying a strong foundation.

When I was a child, most children were raised at home. Parks were filled with children climbing, swing, balancing, jumping and running. Little did parents realize that these activities were helping develop the scaffolding of their child's brains.

I have spoken to older adults and they told me they had no chore charts in their homes. They worked together as a family and when the boys were big enough to help dad outside they did.

TV programing was just developing when I was a small child. My dad worked for Philo Farnsworth in 1955. Families read together and played games.

Flash forward. Take academics out of the "focus" for little children and what do you do? Most of the entitled generation and generation x before them I have worked with are at a loss. Teach them habitudes, help them learn self discipline, work with them, play with them, worship with them, expose them to great stories. This is not academics, it is more important than academics in those early years. This is closer to the model in Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

The foundation for academic are put in place in interesting ways. For example, when I teach an FHE about journals, and I help my child with his journal, I am not teaching language arts and academics, I am teaching a pattern that the Lord has set. When I teach my little child how to find hymns, or how to figure tithing, or take him shopping with me and share how I figured out which is the better buy, I am not teaching the academic subject of math, but he is learning it anyway. When I lap read and run my finger under the words, I am not teaching reading as academics, but somehow they are reading. We are living life, building relationships and learning, keeping the focus on learning who they are, identifying with God and family, without letting Academics replace important lessons by taking center stage.

Young children need more rest than adults. Adults can cover a lot of ground in snatches while children rest, especially if they are not saving housework for when kids are sleeping. The housework should be done with them, so they can learn that work ethic and to build a relationship of trust. Sometimes children can be doing free play on the floor while mom reads.

DeMille admits that adults do not have 8 hours to study and it will take longer to cover the same ground a youth can, because the youth does not have a family to care for. Most of us can find a 20 minute block here, and a 15-30 minute block there. We can be enriched by listening to great music. We can take our children to museums. We can discuss these experiences with our children.

This is all doing nothing according to you.

Donna said...

What I am seeing is that you have placed this in a box, you have defined that box and anyone who is applying it different than that box, is winging it and not doing as DeMille says. Get over it. Your blog only works if everything can be pigeon holed into the box you want it in.

I attended the first TJEd convention in Cedar City. It was a two day event. It was 100% free to attendees, but it cost George Wythe College. They had to rent the building and cover the costs of their staff. They had a panel of parents share how they were applying TJEd. It came across loud and clear that TJEd is a set of principle and application will vary from home to home.

The core phase connection (in the previous post} with the age before accountability is my own application, but fits very snugly into what DeMille described it as, a time to learn right from wrong, truth from error, good from evil. Where did he feel most of this was learned? Through work and play together as a family and as a family enjoying reading together, through family worship, and other family activities. After all, in his book he asked where do you begin and answers to begin with yourself. He encourages people to bgin with their central canon to establish that central canon in their lives. To drink fro it every day, to align their life with it, to teach it to their children. He also suggests to then expand out into other works that support that central canon.

"You, not them" turns around by scholar phase to– them, not you. On the cover of his scholar phase booklet, it states “when its time for them not you.” It is a point of strength to teach from what you know. Those early years give a parent opportunity to envision where they are going, learn enough to be solid in the necessary knowledge, and procure quality materials for their families to use when they are ready to use them. After all, how does a parent gage success in educating their children if they have to picture of what that looks like?

Principles are one thing but application varies. This is supposed to be individualized.

Before I became active in the TJEd community, parents would contact me, feeling like failures in homeschooling (and TJEd is not about homeschooling though it can include it). They were always feeling that no matter what they did they were falling short and that some how their children were not learning well enough. These parents had wonderful resources they were using. Yet, they were in a constant tither looking for the flawless, perfect curriculum, the best one, the one that would leave no holes. I personally do not believe such an all inclusive curriculum in a box exists.

When we put into writing what vision of education, and then decide what materials and experiences we will use to reach that goal, we are setting goals.


I see this envisioning and mapping things out as part of the core phase. To me it goes right along with setting goals in the "Six Areas of Personal and Family Preparedness" ‘When we speak of (personal and) family preparedness, we should speak of foreseen, anticipated, almost expected needs which can be met through wise preparation. Even true emergencies can be modified by good planning.’ (Bishop H Burke Peterson, ‘The Family in Welfare’ Welfare Services Meeting April 1975 p.4?

Having a vision and setting goals do not destroy the principle to structure time not the content, if you understand the principle.

Donna said...

I read your here, here, and here, links.

I have witnessed a trend in the church. I have seen it in every ward I have lived in, in California, Michigan, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, and Kentucky. I call it the "Sunday School mentality." That is where people come to church or anything they are learning to have someone else pre-digest it for them. but do not read and learn for themselves. Attend Sunday school or read the homeschool groups and opinions fly, many times substituting opinion for the real McCoy. I see this in many posts about tjed, Charlotte Mason, etc. People who have not read the whole book or article, and want someone else to predigest it and do the work for them, because they neither have the time or patience to read and learn. Somehow, they cannot be bothered with the time and effort or the study. They feel entitled to have others do it for them.

DeMille has provided many free opportunities to learn about TJEd like-- free newsletters, free conventions, free radio shows the series is on the GWU site, as well as, in-expensive venues like UHEA to learn more.

It is not DeMille's fault that some people want shortcuts to understanding and do not avail themselves of available information.

After all, if you add up the real cost of how they came to understand the system in which they were originally educated it would be very pricey in deed. We pay for public education dearly. Several thousands of dollars a year for 13 years! It is taken from us in taxes, and indirectly through taxes of all business we use, because everything we purchase is taxed and every business pays property tax to support public schools and those businesses pass those cost to the consumer in higher prices.

If you had been schooled in other ways and wanted to learn the ways of public school it would take many lectures, take much time and cost a lot of money. Even college student pursuing a teaching career have already had 13 years field experience and are not starting from scratch.

I dare say, these same parents that want us to predigest CM, Tjed, TWTM, etc. would PS pre-digested for them.

Those who have studied and done the work to understand and apply TJEd, Cm, TWTM etc. have shared with those who would not pay the price of time and study to understand on their own. They host discussion groups and spend their own time and effort sharing what they know from study coupled with personal experience and often for free. There are others that create, host and maintain things that cost. It cost them in time and money away from their families and should be compensated. No one is forced to do this. In the end, those who stay with it are usually those who do the work to understand it, individualize it to their family's unique make up and needs, and then apply it.

I would love to meet these people that "do nothing." I want to see what this "nothing" looks like. If they do exists there are probably other things going on and lack of study and understanding. Still, I would like to meet these phantom people that "do nothing."

Please do not confuse parenting and academics. Do not confuse academics and teaching of the gospel. Do not underestimate the power of a solid core phase, where academics as a focus, is delayed, as it once was in our culture.

Again, I think there is a broad brush being used here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog! I feel the same way about TJED. I have had similar experiences with family members becoming prideful and extremely judgmental after attending GWC. I would never send my children to a school where they brainwash you into believing you are superior to everyone else.

Daddy Parks said...

I'm just looking into TJ-Ed and I appreciate your approach of logically and non-emotionally pointing out the flaws you see in it. It's much more useful than the emotional badmouthing (or praising, for that matter) that contain no substance.

One thing you noted in section one above is this:

"Also, isn't the knowledge what we want to learn? If calculus is just "true," does it matter how you learn it? If the laws of chemistry just "are" then it doesn't really matter which book you read on it, or who taught you, or really even how you learned it, as long as you learned it."

I respectfully disagree. I was fortunate to have one of the best math teachers in the nation for 3 out of my 4 years of (public) high school. You can memorize your way through math, or you can discover how to solve problems. Yes, it's just "truth", but how you learn it matters. In my opinion (and profession as an engineer), it matters how you learned. It is not the "knowing", but the "solving" that matters. Does that make sense?

This does not harm your main point much, but it is, to me, significant in its own right.