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By Rachel DeMille
You know, some people just hear the principles of Leadership Education (TJEd “tee-jay-ed“) articulated just once and think, “Right! That makes perfect sense!”
They are ready to just go for it. If this describes you, getting started is pretty simple. Make a list of your personal classics, and pick one. You know, the one you’ve been waiting for just the right time to read? Give yourself permission to make your own education a priority, carry that book around with you, and get through it—or should I say, get it through you.
After you read 5-10 books from your list of classics with the purpose of coming face-to-face with greatness, you start to think differently about yourself, your education, and it impacts your decisions and approach as an educator.
The book A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century is a great help for such an individual as a sort of handbook and refresher. It is also a great source for those who feel the TJEd connection and would like help communicating their vision to a spouse, mother-in-law, academic counselor, or a piano teacher.
That’s my thoughts for those who take to this very naturally.
If you’re not one of those who automatically feels like you know what your next several steps are supposed to look like, read on….
I remember going to Disneyland with my family about 7 years ago. I had gone to high school just down the road in Huntington Beach, and so I had fun showing them around to all my favorite spots on my old stomping grounds.
I was excited to take them on Space Mountain—it had been a particular favorite. I used to ride it with my eyes closed over and over, savoring the relaxing controlled environment and the breezes that blew across my face as the car shifted, rose and fell on the indoor, darkened track.
So, I got on the ride, reassuring the less adventurous ones in my young family that all would be well. I had been there before, and I knew what I was talking about. They trusted me, and we all got on….
YIKES!!!! Something really bad happened to that ride in the years I hadn’t been on it! I wanted to die. I wanted to just pass out and die.
I think that Getting off the Conveyor Belt can feel that way. You’re strapped in and totally out of control, you can’t see a thing, everyone around you is screaming, you feel like you’re in free fall, and—you’ve brought your whole family along for the ride!
Hopefully, humor makes the drama absurd, but when you’re in the middle of it you can surely feel overwhelmed. Good news is: it doesn’t need to be so. You probably have a lot more control of your situation than I did on that fateful, life-changing day.
Some people coming off the conveyor belt are rather harsh critics when assessing their own strengths. It is my observation that the trajectory is more important than the locus on the grid. In other words: It’s not our level of previous achievement as much as our current forward momentum that inspires and moves our children.
The almost-perfect mom/educator who is static in her progress (intellectually dormant—well-educated or not) has virtually no power to animate others to self-education and success in personal mission. In contrast, the [perceived] limping efforts of a committed self-educator to be all she can be achieves amazing results!
Two main points need your attention during this process, and should be undertaken pretty much at the same time:
- Get busy on your own education.
- Pay the price to develop a clear vision of the principles of Leadership Education.
Lots of us who have not been deeply educated in the classics in our youth feel like we could use a little more help getting started. Okay: that’s probably most people.
I recommend the book Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning for a great overview that will help to really outline the vision, help to define the questions, and be a source to consult for some of the answers. It covers all the phases from birth to grand parenting, so you really can begin with the end in mind.
It’s wonderful to have that kind of overarching view of the whole project. It helps you sort through all the mounds of information and conflicting voices that are available to us when we have a crystal-clear vision of what the end is supposed to look and feel like, and who we want to be.
The book A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion has some great resources for family organization, parent mentoring, building momschools, and lot of other powerful stuff. Some people find it the most helpful–particularly those who thrive in a very structured environment.
These, more than anything, will help you find answers to your questions as you go. There are lots of providers of mentoring to help you along, if you feel you should go that route. Building a community to support you is extremely valuable. But you can’t do it all, not at the same time.
Take the First Step
Just start reading a book you feel like you should read, and: do one thing at a time that you feel you should. Do one thing; do it well. (And remember that anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first, LOL.)
Remember: Faking through at a “productive” pace won’t get you what you want. Busy-ness is not the same thing as progress.
Trusting the process as you actively apply principles in their time and season WILL get you what you want. Take heart! It won’t always feel so overwhelming. But to be honest– it will again, from time to time. That’s just the Leadership Education gig, I think. Or maybe it’s just the parenting gig. We run up against opposition that invites us to make course corrections or to gain new strengths. And thank heavens we do! Those little 3% tweaks from time to time are what keep it fresh and transformational; they make all the difference.
We don’t need to assume that we must be doing everything wrong just because we feel out of our depth once in a while. Actually, I would worry about the destination on a path that doesn’t have dips and bends and occasionally, even choking fog. Trust the report of others who are also walking the Leadership Education path: There are also meadows of unspeakable loveliness, refreshing streams and breathtaking summits. It is truly worth it.
Famous Last Words
1. You don’t have to be perfect to be spectacular.
Parents and educators all over the world are making a positive difference by integrating idealistic principles into their family culture. The transition isn’t immediate, but in some important ways the results are. Within just a few days’ time a new level of hope and vision can be sensed; over time, and with the incorporation of more and more principles, confidence can be gained that hoped-for changes are on the horizon.
2. An investment in your education is not a withdrawal from your children’s education.
To the contrary: it actually is a lever that impacts your children exponentially. As we come Face-to-Face with Greatness in the classics, we are changed; and our ability to make a difference in our relationships, in our sphere of influence and in the lives of our children is greatly impacted. I hope that everyone that reads this will feel the desire and make the commitment so that we as parents and educators, for ourselves and for the rising generation, get An Education to Match Our Mission.