What is Thomas Jefferson-leadership Education

by Mary Ann on February 10, 2011

TJEd Forum picture

On March 18-19 in Salt Lake City the Thomas Jefferson Education Forum is being held. This is an amazing two days on all aspects of home education with a bent towards Thomas Jefferson-leadership education (TJEd). This will be an amazing opportunity to learn how to inspire and motivate children.

One of the classes I am most happy to see is Getting Off the Conveyor Belt: An Introduction to Leadership Education. I think this is going to be a fabulous class because so many parents are excited about the possibilities of leadership education but are also at a loss as to what it actually is. If you find yourself in that place then this is definitely the class for you.

I was reading a wonderful article by Oliver DeMille recently and he addressed a misconception that  many parents have about Thomas Jefferson- leadership education(TJEd). It is information that is worth sharing.

boys studying imagesFrequently the question is raised as to why leadership education (TJEd) promotes lax education for children and rigor for youth. Dr. DeMille’s response is that this question is based on a false assumption.  “… TJEd does not teach lenient academics for children. Let me repeat that: TJEd idealizes a higher standard of education among youth, yes; but it does not urge “lax standards” for children.” (TJEd blog)

Does that surprise some of you? I am sure that it does. I talk with parents every day and frequently that is what they believe. Worse, because they believe this is true about leadership education, they worry about how their children will fare later on.

So if leadership education (TJEd) doesn’t promote laxness for children and rigor for youth what does it promote? What is the Thomas Jefferson Educational philosophy?

One of the great keys of an excellent education is to ‘inspire not require’. As Dr. DeMillechild measuring image states, “All too often in our modern minds we tend to register this phrase more as, “Ignore, Not Require.” TJEd does not advocate ignoring our children or their academics. In fact it actually advocates just the opposite.”

Ignoring children is the easier road. Inspiring children takes what I have been teaching for some time – it takes being present, paying attention, listening, planning ahead, implementation, and consistency. It is not the easy choice when educating our children.

Thomas Jefferson-leadership education is about inspiring children, helping them love learning, making the educational experience exciting and enticing. It is a challenging proposition to deliver meaningful educational experiences to our children. Leadership education allows a student to experience many educational opportunities but more deeply and richly than in the require model.

child painting pictures“In short, TJEd does not promote lax education for children and then rigor for young adults. It does the latter—rigorous study for those 12 and above—and it also promotes a well-delivered and principle-based educational experience targeted to each individual child younger than 12.

“TJEd emphasizes an educationally rich environment complete with a caring adult who relies on setting the example, engaging each child individually, and not requiring every child to learn identically or fit into a pre-established system.” Oliver DeMille

The leadership model emphasizes that children who are forced academically while very young often learn to dislike or even hate learning.

However, while the leadership education model suggests that we shouldn’t push young children too much academically, it does promote showing children by example how exciting and valuable leaning can be; finding out what interests a child and how to help them excel; and to invite children to engage in new topics without manipulation or force.

“Leadership education promotes individualized, personalized mentored education for each child 12 and under (and above), an education designed for the specific child under the direction of a dedicated and caring mentor, an education that is reviewed and improved upon each week. Such education could hardly be less “lax.” It is dedicated to inspiring each student, rather than forcing her; but this makes it more, not less, challenging and effective.” Oliver DeMille

If you are interested in learning, deeply,  more about the Thomas Jefferson Educational philosophy and how to use it well in your home, then I encourage you to attend the Thomas Jefferson Education Forum in March and sign up for the class Getting Off the Conveyor Belt: An Introduction to Leadership Education. This will help you understand some of the best practices in education.

For more information take a look at the article A Thomas Jefferson Education/Leadership Education.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

TheJoyfulPalmer February 11, 2011 at 5:13 am

This is going to be a great event! Don’t miss it. Check out two days of offerings at http://www.tjedmarketplace.com. If you’ve got young adults you’ll be especially interested in everything offered for youth.


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