Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The 7 Keys of Great Teaching

We just reviewed the seven keys (see below) briefly last week at the seminar Jason and I went to and I wanted to share my thoughts about "inspire, not require" (see #4 ). Dr. Shanon Brooks was the presenter at the seminar and he said that in order to inspire that we must be inspired ourselves. And I have been thinking about how I haven't felt inspired lately, mostly just tired! I know if I can find things that I am am excited about so that I can be inspired, then in turn I will be able to inspire my kids. And this week I am feeling inspired by Thoreau (in Walden):

"Men sometimes speak as if the study of the classics would at length make way for more modern and practical studies; but the adventurous student will always study classics, in whatever language they may be written and however ancient they may be. For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man? They are the only oracles which are not decayed, and there are such answers to the most modern inquiry in them as Delphi and Dodona never gave. We might as well omit to study Nature because she is old. To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object. Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written."

and as a result I think that our "school time" has been more enjoyable (I know it's only Tuesday, but I'm trying to be an optimist!).

Here are the 7 Keys of Great Teaching according to Oliver DeMille. He began the homeschooling movement that we are trying to instill in our home (A Thomas Jefferson Education).

1. Classics, Not Textbooks
“As students become familiar with and eventually conversant with the great ideas of humanity, they learn how to think, how to lead, and how to become great. The classics, by introducing the young mind to the greatest achievements of mankind and the spiritual teachings of inspired individuals, prepare children to become successful human beings, parents and leaders in their own time.”
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education, 2nd Edition, page 40

2. Mentors, Not Professors

“A good mentor is someone of high moral character who is more advanced than the student and can guide his or her learning. Parents are the natural mentors of children. …Teachers, professors, coaches, music instructors, employers, neighbors and community leaders can also be good mentors. [George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first law professor in America, was the mentor of Thomas Jefferson.] …None of George Wythe’s students had quite the same curriculum; each student had a personalized program designed to fit his needs and interests.”
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education, 2nd Edition, pages 39, 41-42

3. Inspire, Not Require

“If the purpose is to train leaders, it’s important not to force the young person through their learning experiences. Force in learning kills the spirit, dampens the passion and destroys the zest and life of learning. Force trains followers, not leaders. …Inspiring, in contrast to ignoring and forcing, means finding out what the students need and then creatively encouraging them to engage it on their own—with excitement and interest.”
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education, 2nd Edition, pages 41-43

4. Structure Time, Not Content

“We need structure in order to give adequate time and attention to learning, but the key is to structure the time, not the content. …Different things work for different students. Remember that the purpose of the structure is simply to ensure that students have sufficient time to study. The mentor doesn’t have to be there the whole time, but should interact often, and the students should be given great freedom to read and study and experiment according to their own interests. Always remember the Phases; this type of structure is usually detrimental before the young student is truly ready for intense study.”
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education, 2nd Edition, pages 45-46

5. Quality, Not Conformity

“When Scholars do an assignment, either say “great work” or “do it again.” You can help them, but have them do most of the work and never accept a low quality submission or performance. Wythe was very demanding this way with Jefferson. Note that we’re talking here about more mature students, usually at least 12 and older, not of toddlers or children.”
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education, 2nd Edition, page 46

6. Simplicity, Not Complexity

“To achieve truly excellent education, keep it simple: Read, Write, do Projects and Discuss. The more complex our national curriculum has become, the less educated our society. …George Wythe structured Jefferson’s curriculum around these simple items: classics, discussion, projects, writing. Nearly the whole Founding generation did the same, and the further we have moved from this simple formula, the worse our education has become. What we need to improve education is not more curriculum, but better education, and that comes from classics and mentors.”
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education, 2nd Edition, pages 48-49

7. You, Not Them

“Set the example. The best mentors are continually learning and pushing themselves. Read the classics. Study hard. This allows you to take the ‘agency’ approach to teaching, to let your students have a say in what they study next. …George Wythe studied as hard as Jefferson, and Jefferson contacted home with questions and for help through his life until he passed away. The mentor must lead the way, by reading what the student reads, discussing it with him and requiring quality work. …Children tend to rise to the educational level of their parents, and maybe a little above if their parents have shown them that this is important. The most effective way to ensure the quality of their education is to consistently improve your own.”
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education, 2nd Edition, pages 52-53


The Real George Wythe said...

Christina -

You may want to check out these blogs as well, for some balance on the TJEd movement:



Christina said...

Thanks for the concern, George! But I do feel that TJEd is right for my family at this time.

I am excited to find things to be inspired about and learn with my children. I feel like it was definitely worth my money to attend the two seminars that I have gone to. The seminars have helped me to be excited about my own learning.

Honey said...

It sounds like it was a great conference - thanks for sharing!

Margaret said...

Thanks for posting this. I have been wondering about this program and more of its basis and philosophy. I didn't realize there were seminars in the area.

danielle said...

Inspire, not require...and don't be tired!

Sorry I couldn't help myself.

Thanks for this. A great philosophy.