We just got through with Thanksgiving so gratitude is in my thought. Today as I was looking back on my life, and evaluating its ups and downs, I realized how truly grateful I am for the trials I’ve had in my life. While I was going through them, I didn’t realize what a blessing they would be, or how much I would learn and grow from them. The lessons I have learned in my life, I am so grateful to be able to use to teach others.
One trial that greatly affected the course of my life happened when I was a newlywed. My husband and I got married right after I finished grad school. I took a job near his hometown so that he could finish his degree while I worked to support us. Well, within 6 months I was laid off. I got glowing reviews from everyone, there was just someone with more seniority that wanted my job. I was devastated. They gave me a month’s worth of severance pay and I took that time to regroup. I signed up with a temp agency and started working at any job I could get. I eventually got a long term placement where I was able to learn a TON before the job ended. That led to a retail management job that was flexible enough to allow me to also teach at the local community college at night… which is what I REALLY wanted to be able to do. I was able to have many different employment opportunities in a relatively short period of time. I learned something from each of them… even if it was what NOT to do.
Another trial I had involved another “job”. My husband and I managed an apartment complex for my parents and their business partner. Now, this apartment complex was not in a nice part of town and we specialized in renting to people with “problems”. I very soon found out how naive and sheltered I was! I was dealing with druggies on a daily basis. I was at the courthouse so much, the clerks there were the first to find out I was pregnant! (I felt like I was going to faint and had to leave). I was constantly having to evict people. I learned how to change locks with a baby on my back. It was bad. But I learned so much about rentals! I also learned how important it is to not compromise your morals – no matter what.
My husband and I have had ups and downs in our marriage too. There was one point where we were both seriously questioning if we could go on together. We both felt betrayed by each other and didn’t know how to get past it. It took some outside counseling but we both were committed to make it work. I read somewhere a long time ago that love is a choice, not a feeling. I love that thought. It is sometimes a hard choice to make but both of us take seriously the commitment of marriage and we made it through. I feel for the people that don’t push through the hard times. They don’t ever get to experience the truly good times, which are so much better because you have the contrast and the history of the trials.
Finding my mission in life and doing my best to fulfill it has its own set of trials. And I’m so grateful for all of the other trials that have led me here! As a child I was never able to speak in front of other people. Today I speak at conventions. Twenty years ago I never dreamed about homeschooling my children. Today my oldest is in college with two more to go next year. I am not only teaching my children but also writing curriculum to help other people teach theirs! This month’s module has so much from my life’s trials that I’m able to share! I am hoping that by sharing what I learned in my journey through this life I am able to help others go farther and do more.
When I first started homeschooling I tried to have my ideal “school” at home. If I had had a bell, I would have rung it between classes! It was so scheduled. It makes me cringe when I think about it now. I was so stressed out and the boys were too. It definitely didn’t foster a love of learning for anyone!
The fourth key to a great leadership education is “Structure time, not content.” This was a really hard one for me to do. I’m still challenged by this one. When life gets busy or doesn’t go as planned I find myself reverting to my old ways, even though I know better. I just have to catch myself and redirect.
The way I apply this key is to give my kids time to learn… REALLY learn. And I try and let them learn what they want in the way they want. For my youngest that meant doing tons of lapbooks for awhile. When he got tired of that we had to find something else to inspire him.
For my older kids, it looks a little different. They have plans for what they want to do and as their mentor I help them figure out what they need to learn in order to get there. I have one son that wants to be a lawyer or politician. We talk about what he needs to learn and decide on when. And then I give him the time. And at his age that could mean 15 to 16 hours a day of studying.
My husband thinks our kids are weird. He thinks they study too much. Whenever he gets concerned I sit down with him and explain everything they are doing and ask him if he’d rather they were out doing some of the things typical teens are doing these days – or even what HE was doing at their age! He calms down and the boys keep studying.
Now – I don’t MAKE them study this much. The CHOOSE to study this much. Often they are studying things other than what we have decided they need to… like computer code or animation. I give them the time and they have a big say in the content.
Why is this a “key”? Well, for my boys it has encouraged them to think about how to get what they need to get done, done. They schedule their time, no one else does. It goes back to giving them responsibility for their own education.
Next week: The 4th Key – Quality, not conformity
On TJed.org they have lists of classics for all ages! Check it out!
I am so grateful to have this method of sharing! And for all of you who I can share my thoughts with. A friend of mine shared this video with me and I loved it so much I wanted to share it with all of you…
I hope you have a wonderful, gratitude filled day!
In his book A Thomas Jefferson Education, Oliver DeMille states, “Force trains followers, not leaders.” If you are a parent and you read this you might be thinking of all the times you forced your kids to do something… I know that is always the first thing that comes to mind when I read it! It is easy to think that the only way your kids will do ANYTHING is if you force them. But there is another option.
The third key to a great leadership education is, “Inspire, not require.”
How would you inspire your kid to clean the cat box? That is a pretty yucky job, but my seven year old does it. He REALLY wanted a kitten. I made him wait for a year to get one. I talked to him about the responsibility of having a pet. He practiced on the other family pets. I explained to him that since he was getting bigger he could be trusted to take on this extra responsibility. In short, I inspired him.
When it says “inspire” it doesn’t mean “ignore”. Unfortunately some people interpret it as that. Inspiring a kid is much harder than ignoring them. To inspire a kid to love math you have to really get into it yourself. You have to get creative. You have to really know what makes this kid get excited and bring that into your home and share it with them. You have to look at their education like a mentor. It helps if you can find classics that will give them the “transfer of soul” that will influence your student for a lifetime.
Have you ever noticed that the really effective leaders in you life are the ones that inspire you? In order to inspire others, someone, somewhere, has to have inspired you.
Next week: The 4th Key to Great Leadership Education: Structure time, not content
Check out the blog on TJed.org. They have some great articles to learn more about this philosophy of education.
Most people when they think of education, think of a teacher bestowing his or her knowledge on students. In leadership education, it is recognized that the only person you can truly educate is yourself. Teachers can profess their knowledge all they want but if the student doesn’t accept it, they won’t learn.
The second key to great leadership education takes the responsibility of the student into account. It states “Mentors, not professors.” Most people aren’t familiar with the term “mentor”. It is being used a little bit more these days but not always correctly. There is a big difference between a teacher (professor) and a mentor. A professor, as their name implies, professes their knowledge. A mentor helps you figure out where you want to go and then helps you get there.
If a mentor is to help you, you have to have at least an idea of the direction you are going to go. The student in a mentored relationship has much more responsibility because the education is totally built around them. In is NOT built around a bunch of standards some bureaucrats have thought up.
So, why is this a “key” to leadership education? Besides the personal responsibility this kind of education breeds, it also is a way of looking at learning in a new way. To give you an example, one of my sons is very interested in art. As one of his mentors I try and guide him in ways to include art in his education. I also believe that having a good foundation in world history will help him in his life. In order to help him get where he wants to go with the knowledge I believe will help him, we worked out a world history “class” where he studies artists throughout history and how the time in which they lived influenced their art. Much more exciting and memorable for this kid than reading a history textbook would be! It also is teaching him how to think. He has to look at a person in history and think about what was going on around them and how it affected them. It doesn’t compartmentalize history or art into a little box that you only take out at certain times. Leadership education helps you look at the whole picture!
If you have questions about Thomas Jefferson Education/Leadership Education, check out the TJed Online.
Tonight I am giving a presentation on the Thomas Jefferson Education Philosophy and its 7 Keys to great leadership education. I gave the same presentation to the kids in my class last month and it was so much fun I volunteered to give it to the parents of my homeschool group.
Some people don’t understand the importance of a leadership education. When I look at so many of the problems in the world today, the main thing I see is lack of leadership. I want my kids and the kids I know to be able to provide that leadership the world is so lacking today. Leadership education is different from other forms because rather than teaching what or when to think, it teaches HOW.
One way this philosophy teaches HOW to think is it encourages the use of classics rather than textbooks. A classic is defined as anything that you can learn more from each time you study it. Textbooks teach WHAT to think. Reading a book about Abraham Lincoln teaches us about how he thought and lived and we can then apply that to our lives. Looking at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel teaches us about how he saw man and gives us a glimpse at his vision and mission and work ethic and this can inspire us to look at our mission in life in a different way. Talking to a grandfather to see how he handled difficult situations when he was young can help you figure out how you want to handle your own problems.
I’ve heard that what happens when you read a classic is a “transfer of soul”. Have you ever felt that? Have you ever had a book change how you look at the world? I LOVE books like that! I REALLY learn something when I read a classic. I’ve read many textbooks in my educational career and have never had that “transfer of soul”. I’ve had some great textbooks, don’t get me wrong! I still have some out in the garage that I can’t get rid of because I appreciate the content… but all they taught me was what to think, not how.
Stay tuned and I’ll tell you about the other 7 keys and how my presentation goes!