"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TJEd from Interesting Places

When my husband and I decided that the principles of TJEd were the right ones for our family, it was ALL new to me. My "conveyor belt mentality" was so ingrained in my whole being, I felt I needed to do everything I could to train it out of me. So, I read all I could about TJEd.

One of the things I liked best about TJEd was the concept that what a student learns is not dependent on the teacher, but on the student. What a freeing revelation that was for me as a home educator. I need to gently guide them and inspire them to learn.

Today, I read something written in 1945 by Angelo Patri. He was the author of The Children's Institute: Graded Courses of Study (Correlated to The Book of Knowledge) that inspired ME to write this blog post. We got this gem of a collection thanks to Christmas monies received last year from our collective families. (We also bought the set of Chronicles of America.) This set of children's encyclopedias was recommended by the A2 curriculum I use along with other materials.

I grabbed this little book that came along with the encyclopedia set today because this year, so far, has been all about the 4 R's. It's time to take what they are learning with the 4R's and apply it to critical thinking exercises. So far this year MUCH of our Science and History have been gleaned through reading alone. Now, I want to have them apply their reading and writing skills toward a better end: the study of other subjects. I set upon this goal by seeking out the two little gifts that unexpectedly came with the encyclopedia set.

The Children's Institute: Graded Courses of Study (Correlated to The Book of Knowledge) includes outlines, questions linking subject matter to incidents of everyday life, and achievement testing using The Book of Knowledge as their source of information. I started by reading the introduction, addressed separately to the student, parent and teacher. This introduction by Patri aptly outlines the 7 Keys to Education that Oliver DeMille explained in the first book I read about TJED, A Thomas Jefferson Education.

It was the section address to teachers that really caught my attention. I'll teach each exert and apply it to TJEd.
...We know that we can help a child, according to his power, to find his talents and increase them. We can set his tastes. We can teach him where to look for information and help him to form the habit of looking for it and using it rightly. We can give the child a certain attitude toward life that will bring success and happiness. Beyond that we do little. From there on each child must help himself.
My kids know it is their job to do their work and learn. I can lead them down a path, but I can not make them learn something. I need work on inspiring them, though...
The teacher strives to help his pupil gain knowledge and make the right use of it independently; to make the unknowing child conscious of his plan and purpose in coming to school; to make him his own teacher. Once the child gets the idea the teachers' burden is lifted and his task becomes a joy. The unwilling child becomes the eager searching child whom it is a delight to serve....Education lies in personal experiences, personal responsibility to work and conduct.

Also, I am not a fan of traditional textbooks. We do use Faith and Life for our Religion. My kids read McGuffey as part of their daily reading, and we have used Math textbooks but we don't use textbooks in the traditional sense. Much of my kids' religion comes from reading real books like St. Patrick's Summer or The Life of Our Lord for Children by Marigold Hunt or stories of great Catholic Saints. We mostly read classics. Patri says:
...The textbooks are, of necessity, meager. Their content is limited by the size of the book and the time allowed to study. The teacher's energy is limited also. Nothing so depletes one's vital forces as a teaching day. ..

One thing I wish to impart, more than anything, is the ability to FIND information. I want them to know how to look things up in paper form and in electronic form. I want them to be able to think critically enough to determine what material imparts good, valid, real information. Much of what is on the Internet today seems to come from "so-called" experts. You must be as critical of your sources as you are of your information:
...This is the day of specialized knowledge, the day of speed and accuracy. No time is allowed for ignorance or blundering, no excuse is granted the worker who in not equipped for his task...It is for this emergency that THE BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE is offered. Teach your pupil its use and you have opened wide the door to an enriched self-education. Teach him the right use of this set of books and you have given him the means to serve his highest educational ambitions...
And, one thing I find more important than anything as a home educator and parent is teaching your child not what to learn, but how to learn. My kids are actively involved in deciding what they learn. I ask their opinion on what books they would like to read, along with trying to inspire them to try new things. I also need to teach them the discipline to learn and follow through on things they start, even if they are hard.

...Things turn about a little. Take the child into confidence about his education. Show him the course of study as it is set down and explain that it is the fund of knowledge that every school child of his age and power can master. Show him how to follow it through step by step and how to enrich it by the related reading. Teach him how to test his knowledge. Allow him to put his creative instinct on a job and you have given him the best of gifts, the power of self-help.
At the end of this mission, Iwant my kids to see me not as their teacher, but their mentor. I hope to have the humility to realize I can't teach them everything, the courage to let others mentor them when I can't and the sense to let them find their own wings. I haven't finished my education yet. I expect that will take my entire life.
...If you can take this attitude toward teaching you will find your function has shifted from that of task-master to that of the leader and guide. You will find yourself acting as an inspirational force rather than as the dull, compelling dictator. You will discover that there is much of the adventure in search of knowledge still open to you and you will go forward with your pupils.
This clinches it for me.
...He who opens to the questioning mind of a child the knowledge that increases his powers and stimulates his created instinct blazes a trail for a new, a nobler race.
My hope is to raise statesmen.