Saturday, March 29, 2008

TJED and Intro from Kelly

First, Hello! Thank you for letting me join your book discussion. I’m very excited to have women to discuss interesting books with! I look forward to getting to know you better through our discussions.
Please forgive any typos. I am doing the bulk of this typing while nursing. I also won’t be looking up page numbers and things for this particular book. I read it a long time ago and I am just going to weigh with what I have in my head. So anyway….here goes!

This book changed my life.

I say that in all seriousness. I am a different person now. I view education differently. I think differently. I am interested in topics that I never even thought about previously.

When I first read Thomas Jefferson Education, I realized that my Education was completely under my control and that I could learn anything I had a mind to learn. I realized that I wanted my children to grow up able to THINK and evaluate. I know I didn’t learn how to think growing up. Maybe that is because of my parents, maybe because of my teachers. Probably both.

Like Julia, I thirsted after the information that was in this book. The high ideals and ideas gave me something to consider that I had never considered before. It gave me a starting point for my own studies.

Since reading this book, the bulk of my research and studying has focused on education and family life. It’s something that’s pertinent to me right now. I find it fascinating. I also study and discuss politics, economics, and other things that I would never have even considered studying.

I agree with DeMille that our country’s educational philosophy is not developmentally correct for children. I like his ideas on working and learning together. I love that he thinks parents should set an example for their children. I agree that learning should be enjoyable as children. I agree with him that fostering a love of learning in children is vital. I recognize that these are not completely original ideas but have, in fact, been spoken by many people, not the least of whom have been Church leaders.

This book places the responsibility of each individual’s education where it belongs, on the individual. I like that.

I read through all your posts and found them fascinating. There were some things that I totally agreed with and others in which I had a “little bone to pick”. I don’t want to get into that too much, but I did want to respond to one thing that Andrea wrote. As I read it I had an interesting thought. I haven’t put too much effort into it, so bear with me. In response to this question, “Do you aspire to having "wise" children, or are you okay with children who are happily settled into good careers? Is there a difference?”
Andrea wrote: “I want my children to end up as wise and loving and kind as President Hinckley. Since I am not as wise or loving or kind as President Hinckley that guarantees that my children won't be--but at least I can teach them to WANT to be like that. At least I can teach them that just being okay is NOT the best they can do.”

So here’s my thought, although a little off-topic from the original question. I disagree that children cannot surpass their parents. I think it’s possible. It reminds me of the poem that President Monson likes to quote that says, “every now and then God places a giant among men”. What if your child is going to be one of those “giants”? I’ll tell you honestly, my parents only ever believed that their children could reach a certain potential. I love them dearly, but I could feel that from the time I was little. There was a certain “I was only this good at math so I don’t expect you to do any better” sort of mentality about them. They expect us to be the same sort of people that they are professionally. That jives with what DeMille was arguing about the aristocracy (I had other thoughts on that, but I can save them for later).

I totally expect that my children will surpass my efforts in most areas of my life. Maybe I sound like a parent with impossible expectations, but I’ve decided that dreaming big is probably one of the things I lacked as a child. I dreamt safe. I don’t want that for my children.

On that same wave-length, My mom told me once that she has a theory that it is possible for every generation of parents to improve on the generation that came before it. She looked at our own family history (from my great-grandparents through to me) and thought it worked. We have progressed from detached, semi-abusive/strict parenting, to parents who don’t beat their children and say “I love you” to their children. The addition of the Gospel has played a huge role in this progression. I hope my children keep it going!

So that’s my little idea. That’s part of what I love about this book – it suggests that you dream big for your children…and start by dreaming big for yourself.

That is all I’ll say right now. Like I said, it’s been awhile since I read the book so I might be idealizing it and attributing ideas to DeMille that aren’t there. And I hope this didn’t turn into Kelly’s platform on child-rearing. :-)


Andrea said...


Thanks for pointing out what I said, because I don't really think that. I do believe my children can surpass me. My thinking was that we tend to be a lot like our parents, so when I yell at my kids I am teaching them to yell at my grandkids. But--my Mom and I have talked a lot about each generation improving on the one before, and we have seen the same thing in our family. Certainly I expect my children to do much better than me in every respect.

Also, I think it is so interesting to hear you and Julia talk about your families and how your thinking was changed by this book. Kami and I have talked about this at length--but our parents really are different in that my Dad (and to a lesser degree my Mom) believed he could do anything he set his mind to. Over and over he did things that nobody expected. My mom seriously thought when she married him that he would be a mechanic in Cardston (the little town in Canada where I am from) for the rest of their lives. Five or six career changes and three degrees later, he is a dean at a university. Nobody who knew dad as the high school dropout, married at 18, jock, EVER expected that.

Here is a prime example of what we were used to as kids. Dad needed to write his dissertation in two months to take a job in Kentucky. Everyone in the college told him that nobody had ever written a dissertation that fast. That it was impossible. He did it. He doesn't believe in impossible unless it involves physical limitations.

When I was talking once to my father-in-law he asked me what my goals were in life. I told him I wanted to win the Newberry medal. He laughed. Timothy (my husband) pointed out that I was serious. My FIL thought it was silly or ridiculous to have a goal like that. I think--somebody has to win, it could easily be me. I didn't realize until getting married and trying to develop a relationship with my in-laws just how different my life perspective is than many people.

But--after saying all that (and probably boring you, sorry), it was my PARENTS who instilled the belief that I was capable of anything. Not the schools.

Sometimes I think schools main function is to test your sense of self-worth and nothing else. But then I remember the good teachers I had and try not to be so negative.

My point. I don't know, I've forgotten because I rambled so long.

Andrea said...