You'd Think I'd be a TJEd Dad

I should probably be a dad that would really be excited to do TJEd. On the bookshelf I have The Founder's Constitution, which is a five volume compilation of writings of the Founders. I have two copies of Cleon Skousen's The Making of America (one to loan out and one to always have at home). I have the Great Books series, which my wife and I read out of (she more than I). I have over 60 Loeb classic books, which are classics with the original language (Latin or Greek) on one side, and an English translation on the other. I have more Great Courses from the Teaching Company than I care to mention, and have gone through a large number of them. And I have a problem of acquiring books and reading them, of all different types and genres although only a few are fiction. I say all this not to impress but only to indicate my heavy interest in the classics, in constitutional studies, in great literature. I don't claim to be an expert or be particularly gifted in any of those fields, but it is where I spend a lot of my time and effort. Based on an introductory exposure to TJEd, I should be a prime candidate. It should be right up my alley. So what's the problem?

Actually, the reason I don't like TJEd may be because of the things I listed above. I was already convinced of the importance of knowing the classics and I already new something about the Founders and the Constitution. I was already converted on these issues, so to speak. But not only that, I already had some knowledge of them. So when I read 'A Thomas Jefferson Education' a lot of red flags went up and many things disturbed me. Something was fundamentally wrong I could tell. When I read 'Leadership Education' by Oliver Demille and his wife, I was really disturbed. I have hesitated writing this blog because I often thought that perhaps it didn't really matter, that some things may be off but on the whole it's ok. Whenever I thought that, I just read over some things I had highlighted in those two books and I become highly motivated to give my opinion.

When I was learning about firearms - how to shoot, how to care for firearms, and how to do all this safely - I appreciated the guys that would tell me what I was doing wrong, or if there were things I could do better. I was glad they would tell me not to use that kind of ammunition, or handle the firearm that way, or clear a malfunction like that. I was also glad they just told me what they thought about certain calibers and certain models, because trial and error is often not the best approach to learn about firearms, especially safety, and you can learn from anyone, not just experts. With firearms, it's different than giving advice on hiking boots or paddle strokes in a canoe. Opinions carry more weight because the activity is more serious. At the range, you expect guys to speak up if they see something they think might be harmful. The range is not a place to take offense or be overly-sensitive, because the stakes are high and no one is going to correct you just because they have anything against you. They'd rather shoot. In fact, if you or anyone else does something potentially dangerous, it may affect their ability to practice their shooting. And that's why everyone is there: they want to improve their marksmanship, safely and effectively.

This is how I feel about this blog. I feel like a shooter on the range, and I look down the line and see these other people doing something that doesn't look real safe to me. I want to spend my time helping my kids learn and to learn myself, not be a shooting line officer. But if I see something I think may be harmful I need to say something. I know that in the homeschooling world, and also the LDS world, we need to support each other and not create contention. This is why I think there's been so little written on TJEd outside TJEd. People just want to be nice and let people do their own things. To me, this would be comparable to being at the range and observing people not shooting well because of bad technique. But what I observe now is more than just bad technique. The TJEd movement is starting to affect me and there are some things that look harmful to me, so like a good shooter on the range, I am going to speak up. Obviously people will judge whether my concern is real, or large, but I am going to give my reasons and make my case. But this is also not a time to be overly-sensitive. The fact that someone says there is something to be concerned about does not mean that person is trying to be mean, or has nothing better to do. Obviously this is concerning enough to me that I am spending time reading the books and writing this blog. I'd much rather be reading Caesar or doing math flashcards with my kids. But I have a duty.

I have boiled it down to a few reasons why I don't do TJEd. It takes a little bit to explain each reason, though. I can't do it in a few statements and have them be very convincing. I also need to back up what I say with quotes from the TJEd books and other sources. If Oliver Demille had to take a whole book (actually more) to state his case, then I shouldn't be expected to write my ideas in a few short statements.

Enough with the introduction...on to my reasons...


Anonymous said...

Hey there! I have found your blog absolutely fascinating. You take a calm, rational approach to explaining why you don't do TJEd. And it's interesting! Definitely something that I am glad to see. TJEd needs to be discussed, to some degree.

My family has been involved in TJEd for some time now...and I must say, the older I get, the more I find that I don't quite agree with.

The main thing I don't like is needing a name for every little bit of it...like the Liberal Arts Education cycle, like the phases, etc. I, personally, don't really need to know if I'm in Scholar or Depth or LofL or whatever. I just need to know that I am learning and accomplishing what I ought to be doing. In my experience, I found those 'labels' held me back.
My family did 'TJEd' better before we ever knew what it was. Or rather, we had an excellent home education before we tried to define and label all the little different parts and turn education into an organization. We've since decided to go our own way again...and things are going smoother--for our family, at least. Perhaps for others it wouldn't be that way.

I think TJEd has inspired a lot of people and very likely done some great things in their lives. I know that in some areas of my life, the people I've come to know through TJEd have really blessed me, and some activities I have done have enriched my life.

However...there are those little things I don't agree with. Maybe I'm too much of a free spirit. Maybe I'm lazy, I'm not quite sure. I just know that there are parts of it that I don't agree with, and probably never will.

TJEd has its value...for some people, I'm sure. Perhaps it all comes to down to doing what is right for you and your family.

Anyway, I have definitely enjoyed reading this. It's always nice to see that other people out there are thinking and sharing their thoughts. You've done a great job presenting your view! You've brought up some very valid and enlightening things. Although, I can't say that I agree with all of your points...but where would the world be if people agreed on everything? Thank you for sharing.

The Real George Wythe said...

You might be interested in this blog, which is now hosting the Diploma DeMille document since www.idaholeadershipacademy.org was taken down:


J.L.L said...

Thanks Real George Wythe. I read your blog. Very interesting. I saw in your profile that a relative of yours used her entire college savings on George Wythe with little benefit. That's a shame.

C T said...

Interesting blog. Thanks for putting your ideas out there. I rejected DeMille's approach once I read that he thought that a student would should learn math by reading Euclid and Newton in the original. In my experience (B.S. in mathematics), math ability and understanding is best obtained through exposition and drilling in arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, algebra, and calculus. I have a B.S. in mathematics, and I refuse to limit my children's future career paths by denying them a systematic, clear math education.

pajama momma said...

So, CT, do you have a BS in mathematics?

Stephanie said...

I, for one, really appreciate that you've dedicated your time to researching and writing this blog, because I really needed the information you've given.

I am a homeschooling mother, and was introduced to the TJed model. I've been struggling with the homeschooling curriculum and methods I'm currently using with my children, so I decided it was worth looking into and picked up the book and read through it.

My study of the method was very serious. I took the time to write down all the things that stood out to me to discuss with my husband. And while there were good points made, there were many things that just didn't seem right to me but I couldn't pin-point them. My husband introduced me to the concept of rhetorical devises and logical fallacies in the past, but I didn't have enough knowledge of the specific types/categories of these two literary devises when I was reading through this book.

But in reading your blog (which I happened upon doing a search on one of the concepts of the TJed model I don't agree with) I realized that DeMille's use of these devises, particularly the use of logical fallacies, is what didn't sit right with me. And I really appreciated that you actually broke them down into their individual categories; it helped me process them better.

So, thank you!! I've read through a lot of the comments on your blog, and it appears that you've really taken a hit for your position. It's too bad, though, because we can all benefit from seeing both sides of the coin in order to make a truly educated decision. It especially helps when others with greater understanding can help those with less understanding make "head or tails" of something that is extremely convoluted.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog! I was involved with TJEd from 2003 - 2006. It's VERY popular where I am, although most people I've spoken to feel quite lost on how to actually *do* it (despite the seminars, books, and articles they have purchased). Trying to do TJEd with my family was a very frustrating and unproductive experience. I nearly quit homeschooling because of TJEd! I know an alarming number of TJEd families whose older children attend schools rather than continuing to homeschool until graduation because the children were not getting what they needed at home. If TJEd works as an educational philosophy, I'm concerned as to why so many older TJEd children end up back at school or have gaping holes in their education (math, anyone?).

I am still upset over the lost years (and money!) we spent trying to make TJEd work. I know several other families who abandoned TJEd because it didn't work for them, either. I didn't read this blog until about six months ago (years after I stopped doing TJEd). Most of what you say here is spot on with the reasons I left TJEd. In some ways TJEd feels like a religion. I felt like I was renouncing a faith when I switched to something else (which really concerns me as I look back). I felt weird about telling anyone that we were doing *gasp* structured time and content, math textbooks, and history programs, etc. I got over the sense of failure and guilt left over from eschewing TJEd principles because my children and I were FINALLY loving to learn! My husband and I chose homeschooling because we want our children to love learning *and* have a solid foundation in academics. TJEd was supremely unsuited to help our family come anywhere near those goals. I'm glad we realized this before it was too late. I hope this blog prevents other families from wasted time and money as well.

Reading The Well-Trained Mind in late 2006 was like a breath of fresh air. It very clearly outlined *how* to give a classical education to my children. We have tweaked The Well-Trained Mind to suit our family. The authors, in fact, encourage this. They give more information and suggestions than anyone can really use because that allows parents to tailor the program to meet the needs of their family. I greatly appreciate having "too much" in TWTM rather than the too little included in TJEd's publications. With TJEd I always felt lost and my children were begging for more structure. I have met the DeMilles and many others at George Wythe and I have attended many lectures as well as their annual conferences (“forums”). They are nice people, even though I have misgivings about their methodology and business practices. My family's education has greatly improved since we stopped doing TJEd in late 2006 and started following TWTM in early 2007.

The Well-Trained Mind's approach to chronological history, reading the classics (love the book lists for each grade/time period), and studying Latin are things my family especially enjoys. Jessie Wise homschooled her children decades ago. Susan Wise Bauer (Jessie's daughter and co-author) currently homeschools her children (I think her oldest has graduated). Susan has a PhD from the College of William and Mary (2nd oldest university in the country), where she has taught writing and literature since 1994. My kids and I love her history program (The Story of the World). I think Susan Wise Bauer is great and her methodology is sound. She *also* happens to have excellent, legitimate credentials as well as real-life experience both as a homeschooled student and homeschooling mother. I hope other parents do more research than I did when I first started homeschooling and that they find an approach that actually works to educate their children. :-)

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Anonymous said...

Um... Blogger seemed to really like my comment. If you can remove the duplicates, that would be good. :-)

Anonymous said...

In response to this blog, all I can say is WOW! I have been homeschooling for a few years, and when I was first introduced to TJED (about 2 years ago) and read my first book about it, many ideas of this model excited me. I MADE my husband read it, and he liked parts of it, but for the most part he wondered who the crap Oliver DeMille was to be leading a group of baaing sheep with all these un-substantiated ideas. I laughed out loud many times while reading your blog because my husband warned me of the same things you addressed after he read his book.
Now, I have recently discovered Charlotte Mason, and I’m eager to look into The Well-Trained Mind and many other schools of thought out there that I CAN glean useful information from. There TRULY are PARTS of TJED that can be useful to implement in a home school. But just as I am learning with other trains of thought, you MUST take what works for your family and LEAVE THE REST. Unfortunately, I don’t think some people who set out to do TJED LEAVE THE REST. It seems that they figure it’s all or nothing. I have a good friend who feels like she has failed with her older children who are grown, and who she used the TJED method with through most of their home schooling years. Now with her younger children she still is trying to “do it right” this time, even thought it failed for her before. Frankly, it’s scary to see someone as intelligent as her following another person blindly on what is right for her family.
I guess after knowing about TJED for two years and hearing all these common terms among TJEDers, the reason I didn’t jump into it is because it IS complex. I was planning on attending the forum this year so I could learn more about the closet, the phases, and REALLY how to implement them into my home school. I’m glad I didn’t make it a priority this year.

I was astounded as I read quotes you pulled out of the books. If they were taken out of context, then one should take a serious look at what he WAS meaning. If they are true to what he means, my first thought was RUUUUUN when I read them. Home schooling IS scary sometimes. We as parents feel like we are supposed to be homes schooling, but this is a new arena for us as most of us are products of the public school system. Yet we are here, trying, and looking for the best way and what we are supposed to be doing. I was told at one point by a friend who does TJED that this model is like putting all your eggs in one basket. Well, it sure doesn’t seem like it’s a very secure basket to be placing the most precious eggs I’ll ever be given into when so many red flags go off in my mind while reading his philosophies!

Thanks for your blog. Although the replies to comments were a bit antagonistic at times, overall the blog was well thought out and I thought very informing. I (and my husband and eventually children and grandchildren) appreciate the research and time you put in to writing this blog!!!!

singinjenny said...

Wow! The past two weeks I have been actively pursuing implementation of DeMille's principles, I am so very glad I read your blog. Well, well done. As Stephanie asserted earlier, it is good to look at two sides of the coin. How fun it would be to sit with a mug of hazelnut coffee at Paneras with all of you commenters sometime.

Homeschooling kudos, Jen

singinjenny said...

Wow! The past two weeks I have been actively pursuing implementation of DeMille's principles, I am so very glad I read your blog. Well, well done. As Stephanie asserted earlier, it is good to look at two sides of the coin. How fun it would be to sit with a mug of hazelnut coffee at Paneras with all of you commenters sometime.

Homeschooling kudos, Jen

Jamie said...

I am so happy to come across your blog. I have been a homeschool mom of 11 for 20+ years. My oldest son and his wife are honor students at USU and my youngest daushter is just 3. I have seen a lot of homeschool fads come and go in those years, and I feel so much of what you say resonates with my own feelings and experience with TJEd. Thank you for taking the time to delineate all that you have. I have been putting some thoughts together to address this very issue in my own blog, but it will not be nearly as concise and thorough as your information. I agree that, although at first I thought it was a benign fad of education, the more I am around TJEd educators and their uneducated children, the more concern I have about the stability of the homeschool movement in general within the LDS community. It is time to make a stand and to reveal the truth about "the emporer's new clothes".

Anonymous said...

I think it's awesome that people are talking about homeschooling and TJEd PERIOD! So refreshing to discuss our issues and thoughts, however, I feel like with absolutely anything out there one must educate themselves and then take the advice they find resonates with them and leave behind what does not. If there was a "magic" true-for-all curriculum we would all just use that. I see nothing harmful in instilling family values and being well versed in the classics. Go right to the source for information. How can that be harmful? The reason I think so many are confused about HOW to implement the TJEd model is because it's customizable, you are responsible for it. You are free to choose the materials you use as they fit your family and structure your days so that you can inspire, mentor and facilitate your child's growth and education. Those people who are confused are missing the key points. To perseverate on the minutia of the "model" is counterproductive. No one formula can be followed to the letter with dazzling results for all. Haven't we all decided to homeschool for the freedom and flexibility it allows us in creating the most enriching environment for our children at each given moment as they journey through life? Stop overthinking it, be present for your kids and lead out!

Anonymous said...

Just two comments that flag me when I was doing a google search on TJed. You work in anonymity, and you delete opposing comments.

I don't know more than that, but that is enough to be suspicious.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at January 28, 2013 at 5:01 PM:

The individual commenters deleted their comments, not the blog author.

Also, you commented anonymously. Kettle, black.