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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Ideas, However...
As someone who used the TJED method for 4 years (and continues using ideas from this book) I feel that others ought to know the pros and cons I have encountered in following this homeschooling method. I had to rate it 4 stars because I like it and feel that there is a lot of valuable information here which can be implimented with any homeschool method, however, I...
Published on September 10, 2011 by Song Girl

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191 of 236 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentally flawed. False claims
In this book Oliver DeMille sells a promise and a hope to parents that are dissatisfied with public education. DeMille argues that we need great leaders like Thomas Jefferson to be able to meet the problems of the 21st century, and the way we get those leaders is that we give them an education like what Thomas Jefferson had. DeMille claims to have discovered what nearly...
Published on September 25, 2008 by LDS Homeschool Dad


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80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Ideas, However..., September 10, 2011
As someone who used the TJED method for 4 years (and continues using ideas from this book) I feel that others ought to know the pros and cons I have encountered in following this homeschooling method. I had to rate it 4 stars because I like it and feel that there is a lot of valuable information here which can be implimented with any homeschool method, however, I wouldn't recommend using TJED as a method on it's own or following every idea to a "T".

The main ideas of the method are: "Inspire, Not Require" which means that we inspire our children to learn, instead of forcing them. "Read, Write, Discuss" which means that you will be active in their education, reading to them, reading the same books they read, using writing and discussion as the true test of whether they understand the material (no tests). "Lead by Example" which means that you ought to put forth an example of continually learning, yourself, whether that means reading enriching material, taking a class, or pursuing a degree. "The Child is the Text Book", which means that the child should be given choice in what they will learn and be able to pursue their interests. "Read the Classics", which means to use wonderful, appealing books in any given subject or topic, instead of text books.

The method is divided into 4 phases of learning, all of which are self-driven: "Core Phase" (ages 0 - 8), in which children's education is focused on family life, morals, creating and discovering. "Love of Learning Phase" (ages 9 - 12), in which children learn skills simply by pursuing their own interests (it is said that most children want to learn to read and start some math during this stage). "Scholar phase" (ages 12 - 16), in which children take more interest in wide ranges of subjects and choose topics of study to read and discuss with you, the parent. "Depth Phase" (ages 16 - 22), in which teens have discovered their life's work and pursue this with a mentor, either in college or elsewhere.

I used this as my only method during the Core Phase years and found that I kept wrestling with the feeling that my children weren't getting enough in their education and that I felt concerned and embarassed when my children didn't know the things other chidren knew. I think the Unschooling ideas can be used effectively at certain times in a child's life, for self-motivated children, or in younger years, but in general I think children need some structure and someone to guide them because they don't realize all the things they're going to need to know in life and there is so much to learn and so many things to experience. Since the author recommends not using check-lists or schedules I felt really unsure of where we were headed and how to help them learn something in a step-by-step manner. It became very stressful for me at times.

I have since changed methods, but still use ideas from this book. I believe all of the ideas have some relevancy, but according to your best judgment and the individual needs of the child at the time. I feel that my children and I benefited from this method in that they are truly interested in learning and discovering. They love science, history, geography, art, and music, and they are fairly motivated to get their school work done each day. We have an enjoyable time learning these subjects together, instead of having a great division between teacher and student. We have discussions about the things we learn, instead of doing tests, and that has made our schooling more fun. I have gathered a library of wonderful, appealing books for my children and find that they will read educational books in their spare time.

I recommend reading this book and using the ideas that you find helpful and inspiring, and leaving it at that.
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66 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first!, April 7, 2006
By 
This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
I received this book just this weekend - and have already devoured the new chapters - all very good additions. I noted that many of the little errors have been corrected, and the book is just beautiful - hardback, with a lovely dust jacket - and a nice black bookmark! Classic! All that said, my review still stands from the first edition:

I can give the education of our patriots to our children!
My theories, hopes, expectations, and dreams for homeschooling our children are all laid out in this book. It has classic book lists in the back divided by age range (Dr. Seuss is on the list!), step-by-step instructions for how to become an effective mentor to your child or classroom, and succinctly and interestingly describes the current failures of "traditional" classroom methodology. (I'm a former public school teacher, and I agree from experience!)

The only place I disagree with the author is in learning a foreign language - he states we should read a classic in the target language and discuss it. Reading don Quijote in Spanish to anyone who doesn't already know Spanish, will sound like gibberish...So to get a head start on your young one knowing a second language try Workbook and CD like Flip Flop Spanish instead.

Otherwise, this book is quick and extremely informational to read, - a new way of thinking for me, for sure! - and in another year, I look forward to testing its theories in our daily practical lives!
Sra. Gose
Author of Flip Flop Spanish: Ages 3-5: Level 1 & Flip Flop Spanish: Ages 3-5: Level 2
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Positive solutions - FINALLY!, April 22, 2007
This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
Where do I begin? Incredible book, well written, easy read, inspiring on every level, LIFE CHANGING - you won't want to put it down once you open it!

If you have kids you need to read this book before they are schooled another day. If you don't have kids and you have accomplished any level of education (GED to PhD) this book is a must read. If you are a teacher or educator of any kind - again, a must read. You're life will never be the same!

2 years ago, I personally heard Dr. DeMille speak at a conference in CA and as he spoke it was as if someone had turned the lights on and I could finally see my kid's education AND my own clearly. I went out and bought the book (the first edition) as soon as he walked off the stage. As soon as the 2nd edition (this one) came out about a year ago, I bought 4 copies - one for our house, one for my parents and 2 to loan out.

"I've got a college degree but never liked school all growing up" - heard someone say that before? We all know there is something wrong with the current education system, but it's difficult to put a finger on just what it is. Everyone points blame in a different direction and at the end of the day nothing has been resolved and we're asked to throw more tax money at the problem we can't define.

This book is refreshing! It's positive, optimistic and finally explains where the breakdown occurred and continues to occur. It gives SOLUTIONS - hallelujah! Its premise is brilliant and simple all at the same time. After reading it you will want more for yourself, more for your life, more for your children and more for our country. You'll have hope again.

That's what it did for us. After reading this book, my husband and I decided to implement a Leadership Education in our own home and it's been exciting to watch our children respond and get excited about learning. Even if you can't homeschool your children, you can learn from the philosophies in this book and make their education the kind you only dreamed about growing up.

If I had the money, I'd buy a copy for everyone I know, every college student and every parent walking aimlessly around at homeschool fairs. Enrich your life and your grandchildren's...leave the legacy you want to leave...BUY THIS BOOK!
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191 of 236 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentally flawed. False claims, September 25, 2008
This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
In this book Oliver DeMille sells a promise and a hope to parents that are dissatisfied with public education. DeMille argues that we need great leaders like Thomas Jefferson to be able to meet the problems of the 21st century, and the way we get those leaders is that we give them an education like what Thomas Jefferson had. DeMille claims to have discovered what nearly all great leaders in the past have had:

"Find a great leader in history, and you will nearly always find two central elements of their education - classics and mentors. From Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington to Ghandi, Newton and John Locke, to Abigail Adams, Mother Theresa and Joan of Arc - great men and women of history studied other great men and women." p. 37

This is the basis for everything else he espouses in the book. However, Joan of Arc most likely couldn't read. George Washington was not familiar with the classics and it was something that he was a little self-conscious about. In fact, if you look at leaders of the past, including the ones DeMille lists as examples, virtually none of them were particularly well-versed in any classics and had any significant mentoring, if any at all. But this is the proof DeMille attempts to use to convince the reader that what he will describe is not only what great leaders in the past have done, but what we must do now.

Reading the classics is fine and anyone would benefit from reading them. But DeMille isn't even consistent with what he considers a "classic." For Thomas Jefferson, it was Homer and Livy, for parents now, it's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and books by Cleon Skousen.

Part of the Thomas Jefferson Education approach is that there are six "Phases of Learning." DeMille claims to have discovered them after researching the life of Thomas Jefferson:

"These Phases were first noted and identified in our research of the education of Thomas Jefferson, and were later seen to be a pattern of many luminaries in history who lived exemplary lives and changed the world for good." p. 31

What he fails to mention is that these "Phases" started with Freud's psychosexual stages, which were then modified by Erik Erikson to be social more than sexual and to extend past childhood into adulthood, which were then also modified by Jean Piaget, until coming into their final form by DeMille (his other book, Leadership Education explains this). These phases are not something DeMille discovered when researching Thomas Jefferson, but rather more likely something he discovered from studying modern cognitive development theorists and child psychologists.

DeMille also claims to have discovered 7 Keys of Great Learning (he later added an eighth about not being stressed). One Key is to only inspire your child, never require them to do anything academically. Another Key is that you should only focus on yourself. If you are having problems with his methods, the problem is most likely that you either aren't inspiring enough or you need to stop fussing over your child and focus more on yourself. In fact, DeMille gives and example of what happens in seminars when people say they are having trouble getting their child to do math. DeMille just simply asks the parent when the last time she (the parent) has read a "math classic" (Euclid, Archimedes, Newton), and when she answers that she hasn't, then DeMille says that's the problem right there. If you read it, then the child will observe your love to learn and will be inspired to discuss what you are learning with you and somehow either learn that way, or be motivated to go learn math through self-instruction (which should only be done through "math classics").

DeMille also advises parents and students to learn a foreign language through a "classic" in that foreign language. He recommends that in order to learn Spanish, you should pick up a copy of Don Quixote in the original Spanish in one hand, and English translation of it in the other. I highly doubt anyone could learn through that method. Regardless, the Spanish in Don Quixote is older and difficult, like Shakespeare is to English speakers now.

DeMille claims that we need leaders to secure our liberties and that only through such leaders will we be saved as a country. And these leaders will only come through TJEd:

"The leaders of the future will come from the schools, homes, colleges, universities and organizations where classics, mentors, and the other elements of Thomas Jefferson Education are cherished and seriously perused." p113

"Where are the new American Founders of the Twenty-first Century? None of us know who those statesmen will be. But this I do know-the great statesmen and stateswomen of the future will be prepared through the Five Pillars of Statesmenship." p133

He also repeatedly claims that the "conveyor-belt" education (public schools) cannot produce the needed leaders and results in unsatisfactory lives and jobs:

"Which one do you want for your children? If you want to be low-income, production, service, government jobs, you ought to be in a conveyor belt school; because that's what it will prepare you for, and will do it effectively...But if you want more, you'd better get into another system." p117

This book is big on promise, but low on details, and the details supplied are fatally flawed and insufficient for any education. The claim that virtually all leaders had an education of classics and mentors is not true (search around on the internet to find more on this claim, there are some good posts evaluating this), and there's no evidence that what he describes as a "leadership education" is at all what leaders in the past have had. He leaves out crucial aspects of Thomas Jefferson's life that probably were influential in his becoming a leader, like learning Latin and Greek at age 9, and graduating college before getting his "mentor" George Wythe when he was a law clerk, let alone Jefferson's natural intellect. I think this book appeals to parents who do want something better for their child, but are not able to properly evaluate the claims and promises DeMille makes.

Before anyone decides to do this approach, ask a few questions about the claims. Use some critical thinking skills. Don't be so quick to accept everything as gospel just because the author started off talking about how the classics were important.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely valid perspective on the condition of education...., July 13, 2009
By 
Math Mom (Cincinnati, OH) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
For the record, DeMille CLEARLY and REPEATEDLY states that it is irrelevant where your child sits [whether it is at public, private or home school] to get the inspiration & fundamental tools of learning; and that TRUE education is not teaching WHAT to think (teaching to a test) or WHEN to think ("professional" training), but HOW to think. That is exactly what our young people need to learn! What a valid and refreshing objective in the current environment where "feelings" are taught to over-rule thought.

"Conveyor belt learning" for instance, is a mindset first followed by the approach that has led to the decline in literacy rates & rankings. As such, DeMille does not attribute the dysfunction only to government schools as LDS has asserted. Rather, he outlined/demonstrated the pros & cons of all learning environments and how all can fall under that category.

If LDS has indeed read this book and/or is a home school dad who did due diligence before deciding to home school (which looks doubtful after his review), then he would admit & understand this. Anyone can pick paragraphs here & there (out of context), make assertions/assumptions and then criticize for pete's sake. Perhaps he should read it again...this time slower.

Whereas I think DeMille's emphasis on the "classics" was a bit beyond what we work on with our children, his points were no less valid and his solutions were proven & attainable for ANY parent [again] regardless of their child's official learning environment.

I believe this is a must read for anyone looking to explore and/or apply different educational approaches based on the needs of their child(ren).
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great model, good book, November 24, 2008
This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
I am a big proponent of the Thomas Jefferson education model. I believe students should learn from classical sources and have educated and able mentors who can inspire them to learn. I believe parents are the ideal, but not the only choice to be mentors.

I have found that the only way I can begin to implement this method is to let my children be bored (by today's standards). We allow very little T.V. and Nintendo. This, with our encouragement to explore and learn, has opened up a creative vista for our children -- something the book points out is quashed in the current rote public/government school environment.

The biggest reason I'm a proponent of this method is I believe in the freedom of the individual. I believe individuals with good examples and freedom to explore will soar in what their willing and actually do. More often than not their education is hampered than helped by a generation of adults that have passed through public school.

I really enjoyed the explanation of the principles of the TJEd model in this book.

What I wish was different

1. In a book about a Thomas Jefferson education, it would have been nice to have a referenced chapter or two on how Thomas Jefferson was educated. Often statements are made as facts with little evidence to back them up.

2. For the message that the book presents it seemed to me that the same could have been easily presented in a shorter and more concise manner. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again.

This is not necessarily about the book, but an observation I have made is I find that many of the proponents of this method seem to develop an air or snootiness about them that is a bit of a turn off. They also seem to be afraid of conspiracy theories. In a generation that is required to fight the last fight against the reality of the New World Order, it would be nice not to have to put up with the arrogance.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The direction I would advise all homeschools to go., July 21, 2006
By 
TAP "TAP" (Central Valley, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
Before adopting this theory of education, I hoped that pulling my daughter out of school and home schooling her would give her a hope of graduating from high school, and with some part of her self esteem intact. Collage was something I had given up on.

After about 6 months, we are still struggling to follow the path set forth in the book. It is, after all, a complete lifestyle change as well as an education. (It is me who struggles, not my child.) Now I wonder how far she could go. Collage is not only a possibility, but a sure thing, if that is what she chooses. I see no limits to the possibilities.

If you have read "Dumbing Us Down", and you should, you know that "school" is not "education". This book tells you what education is.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my top five INSPIRING education reference books, July 31, 2007
This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
Almost ten years ago I read A Thomas Jefferson Education and since then I have been applying the principles of classical education in my own schooling and my children's schooling. I have been inspired in my own education. As John Adams said, "No effort in favor of virtue is lost." I did have to read more articles by Dr. DeMille and attended several seminars that helped me glean more insight in how to learn from the classics. "How to Read a Book" and "Transition to Scholar" have been very helpful. These materials I was able to find at the George Wythe College bookstore at [...] I also found that while I still use curriculum it has helped me to discriminate better for those types that best fulfil our goal to use and focus on the classics. Using audio recordings of classics also was helpful in bringing in classics in our home-it saved my voice a little!. Another helpful book is the Thomas Jefferson Home Companion. These two books are in my top five homeschooling reference books that I go to for inspiration, guidance, and information. In case you are wondering what other company sits on the shelf with this book-The Well-Trained Mind, Charlotte Mason, and Diane Hopkin's Homeschooling is Fun.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars questionable, September 12, 2010
By 
This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
When I first read this book, I got really excited about the concept. I can just educate myself and in the meantime my children will be inspired to educate themselves, without me every having to require them to do anything?

A Thomas Jefferson Education could be retitled "Unschooling In Disguise" because it's all about parents "inspiring" their kids to educate themselves but never actually teaching them anything.

Was Thomas Jefferson really educated in this manner? If you do your own research, instead of just blindly trusting DeMille, you might find that in reality Thomas Jefferson received a mandatory classical education, not this "inspire, not require" and focus on "you, not them" stuff that DeMille preaches.

If you are passionate about unschooling, that's fine, but let's not pretend that this vein of unschooling is how Thomas Jefferson was educated.

DeMille lists Joan of Arc as one of the great leaders in history who received A Thomas Jefferson Education. In reality, we know very little about Joan of Arc and she was likely not even literate.

He also lists George Washington as one of the great leaders in history who received A Thomas Jefferson Education. The truth is that George Washington was not very well read.

Most of the other "leaders" he lists (Abraham Lincoln, John Locke, etc.) did not have a mentor in the sense that DeMille defines one.

Where did DeMille get the idea that all the great leaders were educated using classics and mentors? I'm not sure.

DeMille advocates children learning math by reading Isaac Newton's writings. I am a certified math teacher and I don't think this makes any sense. First of all, just because someone invented calculus doesn't mean he is going to be the best teacher of it. Second of all, notation has changed so much in 350 years that even if a student is able to read and digest Newton, he will not be able to function in modern day math situations (using Excel or Maple or other math software, reading math journals, etc.)

The learning phases he discusses (Core, Love of Learning, Scholar, etc.) are adaptation of Freud's Stages of Psychosexual Development. They have not been around throughout history.

These are just some of the many problems in this book.

I love the idea of a homeschool curriculum including the reading of lots of classics, and I appreciated the list of classics in the back of this book, which is why I'm rating it 2 stars instead of 1 star.

If you decide to read this book, I urge you to also read the blog Why I Don't Do TJEd so you can get a well-rounded picture.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OldFangled Educational Solution, May 13, 2007
By 
This review is from: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)
If you're thinking of home schooling or UNschooling, if you're thinking of what sort of college you want to go to, if you're thinking of what really matters in education (certainly not standardized tests, sitting in straight rows, or walking single file down the hall under the watchful eye and ready ruler of the teachers) this will jumpstart you into TRUE education. It's a shame it is not required reading for every incoming school board member in every public school in every town in the nation (Mark Twain said: "For practice, God made an idiot; then he made a school board." It's easy to love this book and its sensibly simple solutions to the educational problems that beset us. Money won't solve them. More workbooks won't solve them. More assembly line education won't solve them. This book will.
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