When I first decided to home school my children, years ago, I took the time to ponder what I really wanted for their education. Because my oldest was only three when I made my decision, I had time to research, read, and think about this. Ultimately, I decided that my biggest priority was that they develop a love of learning, a desire to embrace knowledge. From there, I had to figure out the best way to instill that desire in them. Four years after I began this journey, I borrowed a copy of “A Thomas Jefferson Education” and realized that its methods embodied virtually everything I wanted for our home school plan. And while that book was more concept-oriented, “A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion” gives you the nuts-and-bolts application of the teaching.
I really enjoyed the essays within this book. The three authors split them up amongst themselves, and I quickly got a feel for the different voices. For me, the best way to study the TJEd methods was to see how other families applied them, and what that meant for daily life, and this book is chock full of those applications.
Of course, examples are not the only things in the book. Oliver Van DeMille especially penned a number of concept-based essays. The one that stuck out the most to me was the one that pointed out the shrinking attention span in our nation.
Another essay I enjoyed was about feminism and statesmanship. So many stay-at-home-moms – myself included – tend to look inward once they become mothers, and tune out the outside world. This article really inspired me to continue to nurture and lead, and to not shelter myself completely from the things going on around us. I also really appreciated the points made about self-fulfillment, and how so many women think that this is an either/or scenario. I think Jeppson provides ample proof that it need not be, and again, this was something I needed to hear.
One thing I noted in other reviews of this book: other reviewers think that it may be difficult for a new TJer to NOT conveyor-belt their kids after reading this book. I agree that many of the concepts and applications are suggestions and examples, not must-dos. I was fortunate enough to have worked out most of my plans and desires for home schooling beforehand – and having them closely align with a TJEd – so this was less a problem for me. I’ve studied enough to know that I cannot implement every good idea, because they won’t necessarily work with my family. But someone new to home schooling or a Thomas Jefferson Education may need that reminder – so consider yourself reminded! You can’t do it all, but you can find what works for you and tweak it to your family.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I read it, pen and notebook in hand, and took copious notes. It was kind of nice to “study” it after reading “A Thomas Jefferson Education” because I was geared up to take notes and ponder what I was writing down. Again, as long as the reader remembers that a TJEd is *not* a conveyor-belt education, and we should *NOT* seek to duplicate everything we read, they should be able to get a lot out of this book. (Oh, yes, and also remember that a new Hser is NOT going to duplicate the patterns that a ten+ year veteran has perfected.)