Saturday, August 22, 2009

TJEd: A Father’s Perspective

By Lance Gatrell

Are you growing uncomfortable with the unexpected “stuff” your child is learning in school? Has your child lost his/her curiosity or creativity? Does your child view learning as a chore, or as something unpleasant? Have you noticed that public education treats your child like an object on an assembly line, where every child is taught the same thing and in the same way, even if your child has unique abilities that should be nurtured in a unique way? Has your child ever had a teacher that squashed his/her interest in a subject? Have you found your own personal education stagnating?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then perhaps a Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) is what you and your child need. The term “Thomas Jefferson Education” is named in honor of one of the great thinkers amongst our Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson, as well as several other prominent thinkers during the founding of our country, was mentored by a wise teacher, George Wythe, who taught Thomas through studying the great classics of literature, history, political thinking, mathematics, and science, etc.

Our family started our TJEd about three and a half years ago. Since that time, I’ve observed the gradual transformation in our family as I, my spouse, and my children have read and studied some of these classical concepts (our education is not complete—not that you should ever “finish” learning).

Following TJEd principles, the parents are to set the example by continuing their education, and so I’ve read more books in the last three years than I did in the previous 17 years combined. I’ve seen our 11 year old son close a book about Archimedes one Saturday and exclaim “That was a great book”. I’ve watched our 7 year old daughter change from crying that she “hates” reading and that she can’t do it, to now devouring 150 page novels in a day or two, and studying about animal science so that she can become a veterinarian when she grows up. She is writing her own novel that is quite interesting. When our 16 year old son was 12, he played the trumpet in the school band, but we couldn’t get him to practice, nor did he enjoy it. Now, he has discovered his talent on the piano, and several times a day he chooses to sit at the piano and work on a piece, or work on figuring out a song by ear. My children now love to read.

I’ve noticed that the behavior problems have diminished; they’re not perfect, but there has definitely been an improvement. I’ve noticed that my children have become more kind to others. Their willingness to do chores has also increased; again, they’re not perfect here, either, but they have improved.

If you’d like to learn more about a Thomas Jefferson Education for you and your children, please contact Ann Agent, 503-939-6577 to participate in an introductory meeting. Or sign up for the Seminar: You, Not Them to be held in Portland OR on September 25-26, 2009.

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