How Thomas Jefferson Influenced Our Homeschool

How Thomas Jefferson Influenced Our Homeschool

1. “For classical learning I have ever been a zealous advocate.” Thomas Jefferson believed in the method of classical education.

2. “I cannot live without books.” We cannot either. Thus why when asked what method we use, I state “literature-rich classical education.” Throughout his life, Thomas Jefferson collected thousands of books for his library at Monticello.

3. “I make it a rule never to read translations where I can read the original.” Thomas Jefferson believed in going straight to the source. One aspect of classical education that I truly love is the concept of starting a child with a youngster’s version of a classic, such as the Classic Starts series from Sterling Publishing and moving up to the original during the Logic Stage.

How Thomas Jefferson Influenced Our Homeschool

Thomas Jefferson’s belief in reading originals meant needing to understand Latin and Greek, 2 languages he learned in order to read the Bible. Which brings us to #4.

4. Thomas Jefferson believed in learning as many languages as possible. He learned Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, and more than 10 Native American languages. My son has been learning Latin, Greek, and Korean.

5. Thomas Jefferson believed in using classics, not textbooks. Contrary to some beliefs, “classics” are not just Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. “Classics” include stories fiction and non-fiction, biographies, poems, documents, and speeches. ALL subjects have these sources, so all subjects have classics. Classics give us the opportunity to experience the mistakes and triumphs of human history. If we learn from these, we’ll make fewer mistakes and have more successes. Through classic texts and books, we learn to experience tragedy and joy through the eyes and hearts of others. As Oliver DeMille says in his book, A Thomas Jefferson Education, your exposure to classics changes your ideas and your faith – they become bigger. They require us to think, make us struggle, search, ponder, seek, analyze, discover, decide and reconsider (page 65).

What will you get from the classics? You will experience…relief along with Noah’s family when they see the dove return to them with the branch clutched within its beak; sadness with Susan and Lucy as they watch the sacrifice of their dear Aslan taking place; the desperate turmoil suffered by Dr. Jekyll each time he transforms into Mr. Hyde; the courage of Mr. Bilbo Baggins as he discovers his true inner hero along his journey with the dwarves; the surge of patriotism as Patrick Henry shouts, “give me liberty or give me death!” in his speech to the Virginia Convention.

6. “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Thomas Jefferson believed in teaching children that happiness “does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.” One of our mottos around here is that happiness is a not a feeling, it is a choice. No matter what your situation is, you can choose joy.

How Thomas Jefferson Influenced Our Homeschool

7. Thomas Jefferson believed it was important that all children learn history because “apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future.” The spine of our homeschool has always been history. Not only can you learn so much from the past, history can be interwoven with all other subjects. Which leads into #8.

8. Thomas Jefferson believed in erasing the lines between subjects. All subjects CAN be entwined together. History with math, math with science, science with Latin, Latin with history. One nice unified learning experience, with God at the center.

9. Thomas Jefferson believed in individualized learning. This is probably our family’s #1 reason for choosing homeschooling in the first place. Our son is gifted and a one-size-fits-all curriculum would never work for him. His brain seems to be especially designed for logic and science and he thinks in ways that blow me away sometimes. We believe that a daily classroom structure and curriculum would crush him.

10. Last but not least, we are excited about anyone we can find a genealogical connection to!! This is somewhat weird, but my 10th great grandfather was Thomas Jefferson’s cousin’s grandfather. In spite of many of his faults as a man Thomas Jefferson is just plain cool overall! Isn’t he!! He wrote the Declaration, he became President, he negotiated with Napoleon, he sent Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition, he designed the architecture of his own home, he was against the corruptions of Christianity and loved Jesus.

(A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille can be read for free through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library for Amazon Prime members.)

Every Tuesday, for the next ten weeks, I will be participating in a special Ten in Ten blog hop with iHomeschool Network.

This blog hop is inspired by our dear friend and sister Angie of Many Little Blessings. We would love to have you join us during our ten week adventure. Please link up at Angie’s blog by clicking the image below.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

10 thoughts on “How Thomas Jefferson Influenced Our Homeschool

  1. Tabitha (a.k.a. Penny)

    Oh my. This turned out amazing! Amy, you made me want to pursue a classical method until I thought about teaching my four monkey Korean. Hmmm… I could send them off to live with my Korean-American Aunt. Would that qualify? 😉

  2. Kristi

    Have you been to Monticello? We visited there last year when my son was only 4. He was enthralled and still talks about that trip (we live in California). Thomas Jefferson was an amazing man that was in many ways ahead of his time. And, like you’ve said, Thomas Jefferson, was a man just like us with faults, worries, concerns. I’m sure he made a few mistakes in his life like the rest of us. I think alot of people try to cut our great leaders down because they were people. But look what he did with his life inspite of that?! How many of us can say the same! I say we should celebrate the greatness of those lives and use them to inspire us to rise above our own faults and do something great in the world…no matter how small that is!

  3. Mary

    Amy – this was very interesting to me. Since my post is about being methodically CONFUSED, now I am going to investigate a Thomas Jefferson Education and get the book on my Kindle like you suggested! You brought up so many worthy points in your post. Thank you!

  4. Jamie

    Although I have only recently discovered this method of education, with four boys, we have naturally gravitated to this style of learning. Great post. Insightful!

  5. Bridget B

    Thank you so much for this post. I am a diehard Thomas Jefferson fan. He is one of the most amazing human beings. And he was a redhead. (I love red hair)My son has ADHD and goes to a special program that is an offshoot of his public school. He hates it because he is more social than the other kids (their disabilities don’t let them communicate as well as he does). So I have been trying to widen his world view and compassionate nature by adding to his education. Your site has been a gold mine. I am very grateful for the sharing you have done here. Thanks so much, Bridget

  6. Pingback: What Greek thinkers, a British governess, & Thomas Jefferson have in common

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