Reason #4: Doing TJEd as DeMille Describes Would Be Harmful to My Family

DeMille states that to do "Leadership Education" effectively, you need to listen to the advice of those who have been successful at it and if you stray from what they say, you may not end up with the results you want. He argues that if you went to public school (the conveyor belt), most likely you will face difficulty in abandoning incorrect ideas and adopting correct ideas about education.
"The Leadership model of education is counter-intuitive to the conveyor belt approach. Most parents on the conveyor belt try to apply it in precisely the wrong way. To apply Leadership Education successfully it is necessary to listen closely to those who have mastered the system and work hard to duplicate both the content and, especially, the methods of experienced leadership mentors.
If you do these things well, your fourteen-year-olds will beg for a Leadership Education like Thomas Jefferson got and you will be ready to help attain it." Leadership Education, p.30

"One cannot modify the details of Leadership Education without also modifying the outcome. The principles we enumerate below do not pretend to be everything to everyone, but they are what they are - A Leadership Education." Leadership Education, p.59
There are several ingredients to a Leadership Education that DeMille describes. Each Phase of Learning will have different ingredients, although there are some ingredients that span all phases. First though, if you are a parent and want to help you child through all the phases correctly, you first must have gone through all the phases correctly yourself. If you haven't, you need to make yourself go through them before trying to give your child a Leadership Education.
"If you have not done Scholar Phase (or are not progressing toward it) you simply cannot pass on what you do not have; you cannot inspire principles that you are not living. You can try - you can even teach - but the inspiration will be fatally lacking." Leadership Education, p.60
Once you have gone through the phases (or are least progressing ahead of your children), then you can implement the necessary ingredients. I will discuss some of them. These ingredients, DeMille claims, have been used successfully by many families throughout history. You be the judge if this is true.
"These ingredients have been used by many of the great parents of history, but unfortunately are too infrequently discussed in our day." Leadership Education, p.62
The Family Executive Committee (FEC)
I believe of course that Sundays are important days to rest and worship. These are days to spend with the family or doing service and going to church. I don't have any problem with DeMille declaring "Sundays" to be the first ingredient. It's what you are supposed to do on Sunday that I have a problem with, and the organizations you are supposed to have. DeMille calls the first ingredient "Sundays" but all he talks about in this ingredient is the FEC.
"Sunday is the day that makes it all work. Each Sunday we hold out Family Executive Committee (FEC) meeting. The family members who attend this meeting are Mom and Dad. Both are full voting partners, and we consider our unanimity in prayerful decisions to constitute a vote from God.
The FEC establishes long-term family policy including assignments and rules, and it the highest authority in the family. By assignment of our FEC, Dad presides at the meeting. He is responsible for announcing and convening it, preparing the agenda, and keeping the meeting running smoothly." Leadership Education, p.62
This does not sound right to me. Setting aside time to meet with your wife and discuss the calendar and talking about the kids is great. Referring to it as the "FEC" and having an agenda seems a little overboard to me. But it gets worse...
"Rachel tries to limit her entries on the agenda to issues specifically within her stewardship. It may refer to Dad's stewardship, but only as it affects her ability to do hers...Any concerns that she has that actually fall under Oliver's stewardship she prefers to take to God in prayer, and He and Oliver tend to work it out." Leadership Education, p.63
This is disturbing to me. Not only are they calling their marriage the "FEC" but the wife can't even bring up anything her husband is responsible for! This is a great recipe for manipulation.

The FEC is referred as "the FEC" by the DeMilles as if it were really something separate from them, or something that "some committee out there" does. All through the Leadership Education book, there are references to "taking this to the FEC," or not challenging something after it has been "decided by the FEC." For example,
"FEC has been also been helpful in conflict resolution. If a disagreement arises during the week that could lead to an argument, either of us has the prerogative to "refer it to committee," meaning the Family Executive Committee. This means that further discussion must wait a minimum of 24 hours and must take place in the context of an FEC which can be convened especially for this issue, if necessary." Leadership Education, p. 64
I don't know why they can't talk it out when the issue arises, or later that night. But they have to wait 24 hours? Doesn't really sound like a loving close relationship to me. It's not what I would want. I've been married for more than a couple weeks and we don't have any problems talking things out.

It's concerning to me to see how DeMille uses the FEC with his wife:
"After another pregnancy we were thrilled to welcome America Esther...[Rachel's] health continued to decline to the point that for several weeks the children were in other people's care as much as they were in our own. At this point she [Rachel] was humbled enough to accept what Oliver had been urging her to understand: she had to say 'no.'
When she was faced with literal exhaustion, she happily allowed Oliver to take her through an exercise - a list of commitments followed by a Six Month "No" - which resulted in meaningful changes in her schedule over several weeks time.
Often in a family, one spouse thinks she can do everything, and one is savvy to limitations. Be trusting to the counsel of the savvy one, and utilize the FEC to set limits and make decisions." Leadership Education, p.78, 79
Apparently Rachel should have just listened to the FEC.

It should be noted that the FEC is not a meeting, but an actual committee that does things including meetings. DeMille often refers to what the FEC does:
"This can turn Mom into a minivan chauffeur and leave the home fires untended. It is very important that the FEC set boundaries to curb this trend." Leadership Education, p.100

"But their sister Eliza started piano lessons at the age of 7 while still in Core Phase because the FEC decided in one of our Sunday meetings and after much discussion that this would be best for her." Leadership Education, p.115

"The FEC spent hours and hours putting the details together." Leadership Education, p.118

"Under FEC advisement, set up an educational plan and demand follow through from yourself." Leadership Education, p.126 (emphasis original)

"An Inventory will most likely reveal the issue at hand, and the FEC can prescribe the solution." Leadership Education, p.141

"Of course, this requires communication so that gifts are not given that do not meet FEC approval." Leadership Education, p.147

"We know of many good books and mentors that can assist a family who feels like they need to emphasize improved health habits and principles as a part of their family culture and education plan. If this applies to you, seek one out and use the FEC to apply the advice you receive.'" Leadership Education, p.176

"It means applying principles according to the vision and counsel of the FEC and not allowing other voices to incite you to second guess your hard won inspiration." Leadership Education, p.181

"If these elements enter in, your feelings and impression need to be double checked with the FEC so that you do not subconsciously apply your past experience in place of your new vision." Leadership Education, p.182

"In other words, the FEC (Family Executive Council) should consider these issues and set policy for them." Leadership Education, p.195

"Employ the FEC to choose what is right for your family." Leadership Education, p.197

"Then quit worrying about a timeline that is not inspired and FEC-endorsed and go in search of one that is." Leadership Education, p.198

"Danger lurks not because the recommendations are necessarily ill-considered or patently wrong, but because they threaten to unseat the Family Executive Council and thus imperil all decisions and roles." Leadership Education, p.261 (emphasis original)
The FEC even decides on the morning activities and deviations are not allowed.
"Any deviation from the routine [family morning activities] should be considered carefully and almost without exception should receive prior approval from the FEC." Leadership Education, p.70
Mom is half of the FEC, right? She can't make changes to the morning activities without the approval of...her husband, since he's the other person in the FEC.

Parents planning the week, talking about each child, even calling it a committee meeting if they want is ok to me, but extending the use of such a meeting and referring to it beyond this use as if it were some external thing seems unnecessary to me. It sounds more like a way for the parents to distance themselves from the decisions they make, as if some of these things were out of their hands. Imploring God's help is good too, but I don't think I would consider a unanimous decision by the father and mother to necessarily constitute endorsement from God. That's a little presumptuous, and suggests that whatever Mom and Dad agree on is what God wants. Referring to decisions made by "the FEC" that have the approval of God because both parents were in agreement and that can't be changed without approval of the FEC makes it pretty hard to challenge anything the parents decide, even for the parents, but especially the wife, since she can only address things under her stewardship.

Maybe this is all just something the DeMilles do and it works for them? That would be fine, except:
"The first ingredient - truly the most important ingredient - of successful Core and Love of Learning environments is the weekly FEC followed by quality interviews." Leadership Education, p.66
So, if you don't have an FEC with you husband or wife, and if you don't have your weekly meetings, you're not doing Leadership Education, at least not doing it correctly. I have no idea why anyone would think this is what Thomas Jefferson's parents did or George Wythe, but there it is.

Family "callings"
The FEC calls children to specific assignments and duties. DeMille talks about how one of his daughters was "called" to a specific task in the home.
"We select such callings in FEC and meet with the youth in a personal Sunday interview to "call" them to the responsibility. We make it voluntary. But they understand what the FEC is and how it works, so they virtually always say "yes" and they do their best (with some inspiring and encouragement of course). They may bring up concerns for the FEC to consider, but they consider the decision on the FEC binding. Parents may readily see the importance of earning that sacred trust and being careful not to manipulate things in the name of the FEC.

Following their acceptance of the duty, the family votes their support of the family member's calling in full Family Council. So far we have never had a calling rejected or voted down. When we make a change, we vote to release them from a previous calling in Family Council so everyone always knows who is called to what." Leadership Education, p.122
They don't live in a "family." They live in a "ward." LDS people will immediately recognize that this is how LDS wards operate. But this is a family, not a group of families getting together to make the ward work.

The other day I was telling my kids that they get their allowance because I get paid for the work I do. We are a team. They do some things more than me, like put the dishes away from the dishwasher, and Mommy does some things more than anyone else, like cook, and Daddy does some things more than anyone else, like take out the trash and make money so we have a place to live and can buy food. But we do it for all of us. We are not exclusive in our responsibilities. I do the dishes, just not as often as the kids. Mommy takes out the trash sometimes, just not as often as Daddy. Since I make money for the family, and they are just kids, I give them some of what I make so they can spend it on some things they like, just like I do. I spend money on things like the house and car, but I also get things I want for me. I told them that I am sharing some of what I make with them. I give them their allowance when I get paid. I think they understand better now that when I go to work, I go to work for the whole family, because we are a team. When they put the dishes away, they do it for the whole family. It's not that some people do some things, other people do others; it's that we work out what how we can do things for the family, and some people may do some things more often than others.

Now this is just what we do in my family. I don't claim it to be based on any principle for anything. But it makes way more sense to me, and I think it helps us be more kind and willing to do chores and things than we would otherwise. DeMille's methods make me shudder. I would hate to be in a family that operates like a corporation or a ward. I want a Mom and a Dad, not an FEC. I want to just help Mom, not be "called" to do something.

The Bookshelf and the Closet
DeMille says that two very important aspects in the home doing Leadership Education is the bookshelf and the closet. Not just having a bookshelf, but arranging it in a certain way.
'The bookshelf should stand in the family room, the room where the family gathers each morning to study together.
Strangely enough, even something as simple as a bookshelf can, by the way it is organized, either reinforce the conveyor belt or leverage a leadership-style education.
The Leadership Education bookshelf is very distinct...At the very top of this bookshelf, the books are arranged neatly on the shelves, organized by topic and arranged by subject, size and\or color. In short, Scholar shelves would look good in an attorney's office.
Scholar shelves are high and can only be reached by youth and adults...Core Phasers cannot even reach the Scholar shelves without climbing on something.
Below the Scholar shelves are the Love of Learning shelves, eclectically sporting books of all size, shapes and subjects, arranged haphazardly but neatly through the middle section of the shelf." Leadership Education, p.107
The Love of Learning shelf is supposed to be kind of messy, and if Grandma straightens the shelf, you should mess it back up.
"In fact, if a well-meaning grandparent or housekeeper does arrange them in order, an early afternoon activity is made of dumping them all out on the floor and re-shelving them by random delight. This is very important." Leadership Education, p. 107
The physical arrangement and height of the shelves is of utmost importance:
"It is very important for Core Phasers to look up and wish they could reach the books above, and for Love of Learners to feel the reach as they peek into one of the top shelves. The bookshelf should be in the room where everyone sits and studies." Leadership Education, p.108
This is just another suggestion by DeMille, right? Something that works well in his family? No:
"This ingredient is essential for the Core and Love of Learning success and for ensuring a Leadership Education learning environment." Leadership Education, p.108
The closet must have things in there that the children can get to. It should be arranged like the bookshelf with the things for the Core Phasers at the bottom, Love of Learning things on the shelf above that, and Scholar Phase things at the top. It should be open during the day, and closed and locked up at night. Is this just another suggestion by DeMille?
"The closet is a vital ingredient of success in Core and Love of Learning Phases, and without a quality, well-stocked closet, the Foundational Phases might be lacking." Leadership Education, p.109
What does the arrangement of a bookshelf and a closet have anything to do with the great leaders in history? Did they all have these? Is there a "Leadership Education closet" at Thomas Jefferson's boyhood home? Any why are so many things "essential" and "vital" that have nothing to with leadership?

Every piece of minutia is "essential"
The bookshelf and the closet are just two examples of the minutia that DeMille claims is essential for the "proper" environment in the home for Leadership Education. DeMille lists over and over things that you must do in your home that are "vital," or "essential," or "important" for Leadership Education.
"The morning routine is very important for Core and Love of Learning students." Leadership Education, p.67

"The Six Month Purge is essential, even for those who do not struggle at all with keeping the house clean." Leadership Education, p.76

"We teach the Six Month Purge and The Six Month 'No' so that The Six Month Inventory will happen, because when it does, a great education will occur and a leader will be trained." Leadership Education, p.80

"The Annual Break is a key ingredient to any off-the-conveyor-belt family." Leadership Education, p.83

"The binder is a very important part of Love of Learning Phase..." Leadership Education, p.102

"Field trips are very important in Core and Love of Learning..." Leadership Education, p.103

"Separation of entertainment and family rooms is vital to successful Leadership Education." Leadership Education, p.111

"Leadership Education homes need a donation box..." Leadership Education, p.111

"It may seem like we are overstating the case, but this ingredient [the Storage Box] is very important." Leadership Education, p.113

"In short, your yard matters when you are raising and educating leaders." Leadership Education, p.128

"As we have said several times in this article, real work is the key to training leaders, and it must start at an early age...And real chores that require hard work and are truly necessary to the family are a vital ingredient in a Leadership Education." Leadership Education, p.130, 131

"It is essential to teach the young person the entire educational model over and over." Leadership Education, p.132

"Whatever your family's national book, making it a central part of daily education is vital to Leadership Education." Leadership Education, p.134

"Finally, it is essential that you clarify what your mission is and align your life to be actively pursuing it." Leadership Education, p.144

"At least one such friend is invaluable to a Leadership home." Leadership Education, p.144

"If you truly want your child to succeed in his mission, to be happy and fulfilled in life, be sure to give him full parental focus in the Core Phase curriculum during these vital years." Leadership Education, p.146

"During the Sixth Month Inventory it is essential to say "Yes" to your own education..."Leadership Education, p.148
How many things can be "essential?"

The Scholar Phase is really messed up
You may have forgotten that this all started with DeMille giving accolades to the education of Thomas Jefferson and how we need children study the classics so they will become the great leaders of the future. We've gone way off course it seems when we get in to FECs, bookshelves, and closets, but the Scholar Phase will make it all come rushing back.

Remember that the first two Phases of Learning are Core, where you learn right from wrong, and Love of Learning, where you just adopt such a love to learn that you can hardly contain yourself. You are not supposed to give the child any formal instruction before the Scholar Phase, because like Piaget said, it will be wasted, and it might prevent the child from becoming a self-learner and have that thirst for knowledge.

First, DeMille states that there are actually four levels within the Scholar Phase itself. The child is not supposed to go into the Scholar Phase until she is dying to do it. You the parent are supposed to set up a special meeting with the student to discuss the "transition" to this new phase. The meeting is supposed to be exciting, maybe a picnic or something. You tell the child that she soon will be going into "The Scholar Phase" but she gets to choose when she gets to go. Then you are supposed to drop the subject for awhile.
"For the child who is ready to progress into Scholar, your restraint and reassurance will server only to light the fire under her and challenge her to take on the commitments that await her...Tell her how exciting, fun and wonderful it will be." Leadership Education, p.199
Then you go back to treating her as before in the Love of Learning Phase. However, you do give her some "practice days" doing the Scholar Phase. She may not like it, so you just keep her in the Love of Learning Phase until she is really ready to commit. Once she is ready to do Scholar Phase full bore, then you make the transition.
"When he decides to go into Project Level [second level of Scholar Phase, the full-time level], sit down with him and write out a formal agreement." Leadership Education, p.204
The formal agreement includes "Responsibilities" in one column, and "Benefits" on the other. The "Responsibilities" include study schedule and when she will turn in reports. One of the benefits of being in the Scholar Phase is that you don't have to do hardly anything but study. All the chores the student did in the Love of Learning Phase get transferred to someone else.
"As our good friend Cherie Logan put it, 'If you're still doing the housework, you missed your promotion!'" Leadership Education, p.97

"Remember the Scholars are no longer errand-runners and can not be interrupted during Scholar hours - basically 9-5 - unless it is an emergency" Leadership Education, p.201
The Scholar also goes through a sort of bar mitzvah (my description) where the child is announced to be in the Scholar Phase and won't be doing hardly any more chores and will be treated as a young adult instead of a child at home (and this is something that DeMille says should be written in the "Benefits" column in the formal agreement).
"Note that to be treated as a Young Adult in the home might be to include the youth in certain discussions, or when other adults are visiting; outside the home includes finding opportunities to give perks, like - do an adults-only activity (a certain movie, or going to dinner with Mom, Dad and Scholars)." Leadership Education, p.205

Scholars study a lot. That's pretty much all they do.
"The Self-Directed Scholar studies eight to twelve hours a day, five to six days a week, ten to twelve months a year for three to four years. This 5,000 to 8,000 hours of intense study builds a huge base of knowledge and skill which can be applied to whatever mission the later adult embarks. This model is based solidly on the experience of great leaders of history and how they were educated." Leadership Education, p.207

"At the time of this writing, young Oliver is almost 17, Emma is 15 and Sara is 14. They study almost all day long. They literally must be interrupted from their studies to eat or to help out when necessary. All day, they study." Leadership Education, p.127
First, notice how DeMille say you should treat your child based on the "Phases of Learning" that he devised that are based on Piaget's, Erikson's, and originally Freud's theories of human development. These "Phases of Learning" are dictating how the parent treats and interacts with the child. Not only does DeMille not show any evidence that these Phases are correct, but there also is no evidence that this is what leaders in history went through (see the blog post on Reason #3).

Second, while many societies have some sort of "coming of age" ritual or acknowledgment, to DeMille this happens when the child begs to be able to study all day. Until they reach that point, they are not allowed to go into the Scholar Phase and they are not treated as a young adult, but rather still as a child. DeMille has a intellectual or academic view of the transformation into adulthood. I'm not sure that's the right place to draw the line.

Third, writing up a formal agreement is unnecessary to me. A formal agreement with a twelve-year-old? Why is that necessary? How exactly is that enforced? Who arbitrates? Obviously the parent has the finally say, so why draw it up with your kid? Can't you just talk to him about it? This is not my idea of a loving parent helping a child through the transformation of puberty. They've got enough to worry about besides whether they are going to break a contract that they made with their parents - excuse me - the FEC.

Fourth, this transition is build up by the parent to the child as being "exciting," like teenage years usually are, but again it's only in academic terms. Aren't there other changes that are part of the development into a young man or woman? Physical, emotional, hormonal, social, etc.? I don't think that the parent should say to the child that it will be "exciting" because they will get to read all day, but because of all the other aspects of developing into adulthood.

Fifth, "graduating" from having to do a lot of chores to no chores doesn't make sense to me. Ever since I've left home someone's had to do the chores. I didn't "graduate" from them in college, or on my mission, or as a bachelor, or as a married man. It's hard to balance everything else you've got to do with doing chores, but they must get done. Sometimes you have to prioritize doing chores or doing homework, or going on a date, or whatever. I don't see how it really gives the child a realistic worldview to say he has "graduated" from doing them.

Sixth, why not include the child in adult discussion regardless of the age? I think judgment should be used with each topic and each child, but an artificial delineation that now he gets to be with the adults and the other "Scholars" again is just built on those phases of learning from psychologists.

Seventh, studying 8 to 12 hours a day is not healthy, especially for teenagers. I don't think it's balanced at all. They need to be able to spend time reading, and pondering, and experimenting, and building, and exploring, and getting out into nature, and working in groups, and being on teams, and practicing musical instruments, and learning home and garden skills, and engaging in debates, etc. I realize that DeMille says that Scholar in fact do these things, but I don't see how they can do that much if they are studying 8 to 12 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week! When do they do extracurriculars? When do they interact with the opposite sex? When do they build things and work on projects? This seems entirely unbalanced to me and focused on academics way too much. But DeMille has a response to this:
"Young people who read all day are not lazy. They are students. And it is tempting to want to help them 'balance' their lives. But compared to the non-scholar generation they are living in, and the level of leadership that will be required to face upcoming generational challenges, these few youth are the 'balance.'" Leadership Education, p. 216 (emphasis original)
So wait, the way to counteract unbalanced youth that are lazy and ignorant and play too much is to have unbalanced youth that don't do anything but read? The answer to unbalanced youth in one extreme is to create unbalanced youth on the opposite extreme? I think the goal is to have each youth be balanced, not try to balance all youthdom by squishing extra amounts of "knowledge" in some youths to the point that there is no room for anything else in them. It's not a cumulative balance across all youth we want, but balance within each youth.

Boy Scouts vs Scholar Phase
Of course kids in the Scholar Phase could do Boy Scouts. What I want to point out are the differences between the philosophies and methods that the Boy Scouts use and what DeMille's Scholar Phase uses. I realizes that this is not exactly comparing apples to apples, but DeMille is promoting a "Leadership Education" which is part of the purpose of Boy Scouts also, so it is relevant I think to compare them.

Boy ScoutsScholar Phase
PurposeThe Aims of Scouting: character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness.

The Purpose is "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."

The Scout Oath is:

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty To God and my country

And to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Scout Law is:

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
"Tiffany Earl explained the goal of mentoring youth in the Scholar Phase this way: 'I know what this looks like, but I want them to taste it, to feel it, see it, breathe it, smell it. I want them to be with Reuben in the library studying Freud, I want them to be with Newton in the loft of his barn building and calculating. I want the youth to be with Lincoln and a book by the fireplace. They need to feel it!'" Leadership Education, p.197

Transition to Scholar skills include:

Take smart risks

Don't put yourself down

Inner Approval: Don't Emphasize external measures of success

Don't complain or whine

Don't be judgmental

Never get "bored"

Learn from mistakes

Learn to lose and win well

Practice smart self-reliance

Choose to feel at peace and serene

Realize that life is about smiling

Never fear your own greatness

Leadership Education, p.156
MethodCamping, hiking, first aid, merit badges, service projects, troop leadership positions, organizingStudying classics
Leadership OpportunitiesOpportunity to be Patrol Leader, Assistant Patrol Leaders, Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Den Chief, Quartermaster, Historian, proposing\planning\organizing\executing Eagle Scout ProjectReading about leaders
MentoringAt the troop level there is a Scout Committee, Scoutmaster, Assistance Scoutmasters, and Eagle Scouts. Boys are supposed to run the troop with adult shadow leadership overseeing.A mentor who has gone through the Scholar Phase himself and receives the reports of the Scholar Phase student he mentors. The mentor helps guide the student in areas to study but does not dictate to the student what to learn, how to learn, or how fast to learn. The students discusses what he learns with the mentor.
AdvancementScouts advance after fulfilling requirements at each Rank. Requirements usually include being active in the organization and activities, demonstrating knowledge and skill of camping and other areas, service project hours, and leadership position in the troop.Transition Phase is the period when the student moves from Love of Learning to Scholar. The Practice Scholar is when the students gets to try having Scholar Phase days periodically. The Project Scholar is permanently in the Scholar Phase, turning in daily reports on what he has learned. The Self-Directed Scholar studies 8 to 10 hours a day. The Mentored Scholar receives mentoring from outside the home.
Skills learnedcamping, swimming, fire-building, cooking, hiking, knot-tying, first aid, orienteering, campfire presentation, scheduling, teaching younger scouts, delegating, responsibility, recruiting, teamwork, reverence, Indian lore, animal and reptile study, conservation, crafts, archery, rifle shooting, wilderness survival, service project organization and execution.Story acting, task accomplishment, short/long term

Perceiving, sequencing, patterns, remembering, creating, organizing - managing time and materials

Relationships, popularity, interpersonal politics

Intuitive thinking

Conceptual, problem-solving, rule-guided, creative

from Leadership Education, p.157-158

Reading classics, discussion, oral reports, written reports, field trips

Knowledge is important for leadership development, but I think more important is character development and experience following and leading. We want leaders to be good people, not have read about good people. In order to be a good person, I think it is necessary that one must have followed up their beliefs by action, so helping the child be in situations where he is able to practice and interact with others is absolutely necessary for good character development. Reading about leaders isn't enough. You can't be "book smart" about leadership. I don't know where DeMille gets the notion that the great leaders will come from those who have read about great leaders, but have done little or nothing themselves.

Royalty almost always has sent the princes to the military and have them start at the bottom. They need to know what it's like to be ordered around, to be the subject, and to do the grunt work. They need to know how to work as a team, how to get along with different types of people, how to organize, how to implement backup plans when things go wrong, how to deal with insubordination, how not to be too wimpy or timid or too shy or too obnoxious or too complacent or too boring and unmotivating. I don't see any of this with TJEd or DeMille's "Leadership Education." I see kids reading for way too long, not doing enough activities, not practicing leading and being lead, and merely "discussing" what they learn. I don't think fosters good character development at all. I would not want to follow someone like that. I would much rather follow a Boy Scout that knows how to lead others than a kid that has read in his room for 5,000 hours.

Of course nothing precludes a boy from doing Boy Scouts under DeMille's Leadership Education, but DeMille does not list Boy Scouts as an ingredient to Leadership Education so to him it is not essential but only optional. And DeMille has stated that what he outlines will give your child a Leadership Education, and but deviations might not.
"One cannot modify the details of Leadership Education without also modifying the outcome. The principles we enumerate below do not pretend to be everything to everyone, but they are what they are - A Leadership Education." Leadership Education, p.59
Perhaps Boy Scouts is not an essential part of fostering leaders, but I believe there's got to be something like it, something where the boys and girls practice leading and following, learning skills, organizing, planning, doing things, not just reading about them.

Labels, Labels, Labels
In the Leadership Education book, and in the internet sites, the TJEd classes, and in the speech of parents doing TJEd, there is lots of use of labels for their kids.

Just from flipping through the book I see these over and over and over again:
"our Core Phasers"

"Lover of Learners"


"Scholar Phase scouts"

"Core and Love of Learning kids"
This is the typical way the kids are referred to. Again, taking those unproven, artificial "Phases of Learning" that DeMille created and using them to define how you refer to your child and how he sees himself.
"When people ask our children what grade they are in, they answer, "Love of Learning," or "Scholar Phase." Then, when questioned, they explain what that means and what they are studying. They do not see themselves as children or teenagers, but as Core Phasers, Love of Learners and Scholars." Leadership Education, p.133
This defines how you see your child. I think it's a shame to refer to your kid as a "Core Phaser." I would never do that. They are who they are and what they are, and using labels is a dangerous for preconceived, and incorrect, notions to affect you and your child's view of who they are. It affect the self-identity of the child and the identity the parent has of the child. Do other people constantly refer to their kids as "their second-grader," "my Tenderfoot Scout," the "deacons in in our family?" Maybe once in awhile if the context suits, but often and repeatedly and as the usual way? But see the reason people who are really doing TJEd use these labels is because they see the kids so fundamentally different in each of these phases that they think their kids are in, that they use these labels to communicate to others what they think their kid is like. Using the names of the phases to describe the phase you think your kid is in would be one thing, but referring to your kid based on the label you think he's in can confine the kid to something that is not accurate. Toss the labels. Your kid is not a "Phase."

Violation of their own principle of "Simplicity, No Complexity"
DeMille has 55 ingredients that he covers in his book Leadership Education. "Some are helpful, others vital" he says. And some of these are fairly involved and complex, like setting up a Mom's School, a Formal Ball, and the Weekly Club. You've got to set up an FEC and have weekly meetings. You've got to know what morning are for, what afternoons are for, what evenings are for. You've got to know what summer is for and what winter is for and what dinner is for. You've got to know how to arrange your house, assign chores, and create committees. You've got to make sure you don't push your kid to ZPD and thwart their desire to learn. You've got to be working on your "Two Towers" which includes creating an organization to promotes these ideas. You've got to know the Phases of Learning (there are sub-Phases too), and you've got to know when you child should be transitioning from one phase to another, and you better not do it wrong or you'll mess them up. Because remember:
"One cannot modify the details of Leadership Education without modifying the outcome." Leadership Education, p.59
Oh, and you need to be going through your own Scholar Phase which takes at least 5000 hours of study, if you haven't already:
"If you already have a college degree, ask yourself whether or not you actually had a true Scholar Phase - 5,000 to 8,000 hours of mentored study of the great classics." Leadership Education, p.136

"If you have not done Scholar Phase (or are not progressing toward it) you simply cannot pass on what you have not done." Leadership Education, p.60

"Without a high-quality Scholar and Depth experience, a person is not really educated." Leadership Education, p.47 (emphasis original)
After doing all this, you will create the leaders of the future. Good Luck! I don't know how we got any leaders in the past, because I don't think anyone can do this (nor do I think they should).
"The Leadership model of education is counter-intuitive to the conveyor belt approach." Leadership Education, p.29
I should say so! And this is supposed to be "self-learning" by the child? No wonder Rachel's health declined "to the point that for several weeks the children were in other people's care as much as they were in her own." Leadership Education, p.78.

But you better do it because:
"'Success' maybe be possible without a superb Leadership Education, but lasting freedom is not." Leadership Education, p.207

"Without Leadership Education, the future is bleak." Leadership Education, p.3

Why would I want to do this to my family?
Enough said.


Rusty said...

When I first started homeschooling I asked everyone I knew “how” to do it, what they used, describe your day, give me a schedule. The section of the DeMille’s book about “A Recipe for Success” was printed in response to the hundreds of parents like me who liked the 7 keys and the philosophy but came a way with a blank on how to do it. I think that some of the concerns you expressed previously regarding families falling into an “ignore” default led he and his wife to describe how THEY implement these principles.
This recipe is meant to be tweeked. If you want to try to be like the DeMilles and get the results they do you would need to have the exact same family. You can quote multiple times when DeMille says to do what the experienced TJEders do, but you can also find a multitude of quotes where he tells parents they need to do the work to find out what works for their family. DeMille is just a man with some ideas the parents are the real stewards of their families. You won’t get the same results the DeMille’s do because you don’t have the same children the DeMille’s do. Be brave, be bold, find your own answers.

I won’t go into laborious detail analyzing why I agree or disagree with the DeMille’s recipe. I won’t even bore you with my recipe  I will tell you that most of what I do in my homeschooling is taken from a variety of families where the children and parents are happy and successful. I find families with the fruits I like and they are the ones I talk to. The DeMille’s expression of their opinions and ideas using words such as “essential” and “crucial” only indicates to me that in their mind and family it is essential and crucial. It would be a pretty sad thing if we felt like all of us had to homeschool or parent the same way. Even the DeMille’s will tell you that they modify their recipe as circumstances change. Take these ingredients (or don’t take these ingredients) for what they are ideas and suggestions.
We don’t have any “scholar phase” children yet so I can’t say more than balance. Just as you said, “Reading about leaders isn't enough. You can't be "book smart" about leadership.” That is where the 5 pillars comes in. This isn’t the certification this is the actual 5 pillars as used in TJEd- classics, mentors, simulations, field experience and God. In fact it is the simulations and field experience where the learning is put to the test and synthesized. I know many homeschool families with scholar age youth and they do a lot more than read. They are involved in clubs, activities, service, leadership. They date and hang-out. They study and part of that “study” is application.
The DeMille’s are just one of the many TJEd families out there. Their children have skills and needs that are being addressed by the parents as they see fit. I have never heard the DeMille’s, or any other TJEd family, refer to their children using the labels you refer to as an identity. I believe they use the terms in the book because it is easier than trying to remind you who each of their children are and what were their ages when they were writing.
Just as it would be difficult to know what a Mormon or Catholic is like just by reading about one families self-description you can’t really understand what TJEd is by looking at only the DeMilles (Frankly I think they are the unfortunate spokesperson- I wouldn’t want everyone combing through my life and criticizing what I do- of course that is why I didn’t write a book.) If you want to see TJEd in action you need to broaden your view and survey many families and see what is working and what is not. I'm sure that's not what you want to hear. It would be easier if we could just say if the DeMille's say or do it all TJEd families say or do it, but that just isn't the reality. Reading a couple of books doesn’t really give you the full picture of the TJEd community. It is a good place to start and a good place to formulate questions like you have and now I hope that the TJEd “community” will be able to address your questions and concerns here on this blog.

Truth said...

Rusty - help me understand how you can respect and follow an individual who has changed his own resume several times, adding and subtracting degrees (see You're basing your kids' education on this man's teachings? The author of this blog is right -- education is a high-stakes game. I recommend you take a fresh critical view of TJEd.

Anonymous said...

Truth said on this blog-"you are resorting to ad hominem attacks rather than actually addressing the issues at hand." Looks like you slipped into the tactic first.

So Truth, why not follow your own advice and stick with discussing the topic? The topic here is "Doing What Demille Descibes Would Be Harmful To My Family"

Anonymous said...

"You've got to be working on your 'Two Towers' which includes creating an organization to promotes these ideas."

Really? That is not what I got from the chapter.

The two towers spoken of in the Chapter Two Towers" are quite simple, not complex, and are not about building an organization. The two towers mentioned are the need to:
1) Prepare Leaders
2)Improve Teaching.

The point made in the book was that when faced with a crisis the time to prepare is past. I agree.

No one knows if they or their children will be the one that is put in that position. Well, on a local level we are all tested and face crises in our lives. In the public arena crises come, as well. Preparing ones heart with their central canon, and preparing their mind through classics, can be to their advantage, before the crisis comes. Why? Because you have a better chance of knowing what has been tried and what failed in the past, you do not have to make the same mistakes and you do not need to waste time recreating the wheel.

The idea of improving teaching is a laudable one. Especially in the home. It does not have to be TJEd. However, I think it needs to be thought out, purposeful, and seeking inspiration in doing so is a wise root. DeMille's book proposes a way to improve teaching. I do not see it as a straight jacket but as an offering with many ideas worthy of consideration.

DeMille asked in the chapter, "Is the education our children are receiving on par with their potential?" pg 7 of A Thomas Jefferson Education 2006
A good question we can all ask where ever our children receive their education.

Truth said...

"Truth said on this blog-'you are resorting to ad hominem attacks rather than actually addressing the issues at hand.' Looks like you slipped into the tactic first."

Questioning DeMille's credibility vis-a-vis his education is not an ad hominem attack. Because he has based much of his philosophy on his own educational journey (much of Brooks' "First Fifteen Years" history of GWC is not about the college at all but about DeMille), this journey is therefore open for critical examination. DeMille was the first to bring up (and tout) his education; not me.

Truth said...

"So Truth, why not follow your own advice and stick with discussing the topic? The topic here is 'Doing What Demille Descibes Would Be Harmful To My Family'"

See my post above. When DeMille describes his own education as an example of what you should do with your family, certainly red flags should go up when it begins to be clear that the education he describes may not have actually happened the way he says it did.

Basing your child's education on a person's potentially fabricated/doctored educational history could very well be harmful to your family.

Anonymous said...

Actually, your remarks are off topic to the discussion of this thread, which is "Doing TJEd as DeMille Describes would be Harmful to My Family." Whether you think DeMille is credible is not this discussion. The writer of the blog was claiming that he felt what DeMille was teaching through TJEd would be harmful to j.l.l.'d family.

Surely, if you agree with j.l.l. you can add something about the actual topic.

Kelly Family said...

I don't understand your basic assumption here..that people read the recipes for success and assumed that this is exactly how they should do it... Everyone I know of read it, gleaned some principles out of it, tweaked things they found helpful to how it would really work in their family etc. The DeMilles themselves say this works for their family-their children- It was never meant to be taken and fixed onto any other family without sensitivity, adaption, thought...

Are you kidding? I follow the general principles of TJED but it has never occured to me to worship DeMille in the sense of following his family exactly. He's definitely not perfect and there are some things I don't like.

As with ANY philosophy you are going to find flaws and errors.

What's his resume have to do with this reason? Or are you going to bring that up frequently just to keep it firmly in the minds of readers what YOUR character is. Are we only to respect perfect people? If someone is a good cook and we learn from them, shall we never respect them again, or use their recipes if we find they've changed their resume (Even as it applies to their chef schooling?)?

J.L.L said...

Kelly Family, you have to do it like DeMille says if you want the results he says will follow:

"One cannot modify the details of Leadership Education without also modifying the outcome. The principles we enumerate below do not pretend to be everything to everyone, but they are what they are - A Leadership Education." Leadership Education, p.59

Of course I challenge the notion that TJEd would produce the results DeMille promises. But even if you take the good from the bad, there's a lot of bad. And I mean bad, not less-favorable than something else.

"As with ANY philosophy you are going to find flaws and errors."

So what are the flaws with TJEd? Because you definitely don't want to do those.

Kelly Family said...

The Demilles have always said along with their recipes thing that there will be adjustments per family. You can insist otherwise, but it's not true. Yes your result will vary, but since you have different children and are different your result will vay anyway...I don't know a single person who feels this need to copy every detail exactly to the extent you think...

My biggest issue with the TJED system-is the (what I call) "rent a mentor" get to that somewhere i think. I'm not certified, don't feel I need to be. I have gone to a few seminars-which I see as different from the rent a mentor thing-but some of the seminars I've attended have also been free.

That's really more of a practice issue, not really a principle.

I'm not happy with the financial dealings of GWC. I'm not happy with DeMilles degree confusion.

More specific than that it's been a long time sine I've read TJED..

Sandi said...

I have been homeschooling for about 9 years. Most of the homeschoolers I know start with one philosophy or approach, and then gradually learn about others. Ultimately, they end up taking from a mix -- whether it is Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Classical, the Moore Method or unschooling -- they typically end up with a mix of "what works" for their family.

TJed is no different. I am excited about the principles in TJed. I think we can ALL learn from them. As parents, I don't think we can ever be reminded enough that we need to "lead by example" -- not just in picking up our shoes & socks and washing the dishes -- but also in our approach and attitude toward learning and education. It has long been observed that children "do what we do," not what we say. So why not apply that idea to learning and studying? All of my favorite approaches to education include study of the classics . . . so TJed's advocating for them is not any different. The part about mentors is also very helpful; perhaps something many of us already do . . . but again, reminders of what makes for effective education are always valuable.

To me, these are some of the key *highlights* of the TJed approach. And yes, I will integrate them into my now "Waldorf/ CM/ Latin-centered / classical" approach that also allows my son enough free time to pursue his own interests.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this blog. My oldest is 5, and I'm considering homeschooling, though I never thought I would before. In researching homeschooling I came across Charlotte Mason. I liked some of her ideas, but other ideas I wondered how that could be (mostly, not expecting much of youngish children). I kept thinking my son would be so bored if I never taught him how to read for a couple more years, etc. But because I liked some of her ideas, I thought, "Maybe she knows what she's talking about." Anyway, though CM stuff I learned about TJEd, and the same thought occurred to me: if he has some good stuff to say, perhaps I should just "trust the process," right?

Thankfully I found this blog not too far into looking into TJEd. From reading your posts and other's comments, this is what I've gleaned:

1. Many of us see a problem with the "conveyor belt" and want to do things differently, so we look for answers. TJEd promises what we want, so we assume his method will deliver the outcomes we want.

2. DeMille has obviously read Charlotte Mason, and I'm sure others similar, and he liked what she had to say. So in order to make it his own, he used her principles, and added in a bunch of froofy details, that seem like his approach is unique (bookshelf organizing? What's that all about?), and changed things up a bit, and added parts, all the while promising that this is what you do to get the results you want. He promises everything is researched, but where is the research?

3. Those who follow TJEd, through their comments, I've gleaned that because they like some or all of DeMille's ideas, you JLL shouldn't criticize it, because you don't have to follow all of TJEd's recommendations (though DeMille says you actually do). You do what works for you, they say. BUT there is a lot of DANGER in his book. Following his advice can lead to wasted childhoods, and ill-prepared adults. Your blog has been so helpful in pointing this out. I love all your examples on this. I did feel like my son would be bored if I didn't actively teach him things. Maybe there is a reason for that. It's not that he's a genius or unique, but that's how children are. I do think it's good to let toddlers kind of do their thing and explore. But preschool and beyond, their education should be progressively more explicit. I just started my 5yo in piano, and he loves it.

Although until recently I hadn't heard of TJEd I now realize this is what my aunt used for her children. They are all good kids (oldest in his early 20's), but none of them are leaders in any way. They are cute, shy kids who like to read, but don't have any talents or things like that that stand out, and that I'd describe them by.

I know this blog is several years old, but I was hoping you would do a post on what you do for homeschool. Not because after many hours of research you've discovered that's the way all leaders were educated, but just because I'd like to hear your ideas, as I like the way you think, and I am trying to figure out what to do for my family.


Anonymous said...

JLL, I really appreciate your writing this blog, and leaving it up for us to find. We are a homeschooling family, and we don't follow any philosophy or system.

Someone asked me if we TJEd (I guess because we are a bit unschooly and my daughter is a very serious reader) and I had never heard of it -- on a superficial level it sounded great, and sounded like maybe it was what we did.

I was excited by the thought, and made a note to look into it...finally this weekend I had some time to sit down and google it. I was almost immediately creeped out by the official site (among other things, their lists of "classics" put me off as it included several new books which I know to be poorly written -- see the "math classics").

So I looked some more and found several sites discussing TJE and not in a complimentary manner. Yours wasn't the first I found, but it's certainly the most thoughtful and detailed.

Ditto everything Megan said above, and while I suspect you are long gone from paying attention here, please know that your work is still helping people out 4 years on!

Lucilyn labajo said...

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Marcia Robinson said...

I have found this blog and comments quite interesting. Personally, I see pros and cons of the TJ Ed principles. As a past public school teacher, I personally have never looked at DeMille's teachings as a curriculum or recipe of sorts. However, I can see how some would interpret it to be such. My question is with all the personal attacks of DeMille and his credentials or lack there of, why does the author of this blog identify him or herself with only initials and no additional personal or professional history. I find it difficult to appreciate the blogger's comments fully seeing they have been unwilling to stand openly for what they believe.

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Anonymous said...

You ask about what happens to people who do the method. I have seen many families with teens sent to charter schools or public schools in their teens. It is hard for the teens to catch up, especially in math. They are not inspired or motivated to jump from pretty much unschooling, into suddenly doing "study 8 hours a day" at homeschool, or public schooling. Why do the tjed parents put them in school as teens? It is because they feel that they have failed to do a good job at tjed because their teens ar not suddenly inspired to study classics 8 hours a day. Are the teens who go to charter schools way above the other kids in school? No. They are way behind. I do homeschool my kids, but I teach them to read and do math the traditional way. My kids also read a lot of classics. I do believe in classics. I just do not believe that the DeMilles are in charge of them or have a copyright over them. They belong to everyone. Anyone can buy or read them.