A friend of mine came across a treasure of a book at our homeschool conference in May and let me take a peek at it a few weeks ago. I was so impressed with the little I saw that I ordered my own copy so I could highlight and mark it up as I pleased. The book I am referring to is called "A Thomas Jefferson Education" by Oliver Van DeMille. I have read the entire book already and am in the process of reading the companion book to it that kind of ties it all together. This book puts a name to the vision I have had for our homeschool for a very long time.
I have spent some time here discussing unit studies and how I think it has brought a lot more love of learning into our home. However, I have still had this desire to see us spending most of our days learning things as we come about them in life, or by studying things in a more natural way. Unit studies are definitely a step in this direction, and I believe that the Lord has led me on this path for a specific reason. After reading "A Thomas Jefferson Education", though, I can see that other people out there have had this vision of learning and have, in fact, been pursuing it since before the founding of our country.
The book discusses learning through the method of reading the classics and having a good mentoring relationship. Apparently this is how most of the founding fathers of our country all learned. The author of the book calls it Leadership Education and says that if America doesn't embrace this method of education soon, our country will inevitably fail. I think if we take a look at the overall "health" of our country right now, it is not too hard to imagine this failure.
As with a lot of things, I seem to come across some life changing bit of information after some of my children are past the point of benefiting from it. This book would be an absolute treasure for someone whose children are young. The author makes a good argument, however, that it is never too late to adopt this method of learning. In fact, he states that it has to start with the parents. They are the most likely first mentors of their children, so it is up to them to begin to dive into the classics and start learning, and all the while setting a good example for their children. This gives me hope that even my older children can still benefit from the educational model laid out in this book.
I hope to be able to share some of the things that I found very interesting in this book over the next few posts. I am also planning on adding a page to my website about it, with a link to where you can order it from. Not sure when that will happen, though... In the meantime, keep checking back here for more insight into this incredibly intriguing way of learning!