Key #1 – Classics, Not Textbooks

Public School Curriculum

Curriculum is chosen by a school board in the form of a list of textbooks and basic outline or “scope” of what is to be taught. Each grade at a school is presented with this information. Some schools have a standardized curriculum handed to each teacher that they must teach, including the tests. Others allow the teachers more leeway into how they will use the textbook and scope provided. Many good teachers supplement materials and follow the scope in a way that will best suit their students in any given year. I have witnessed other schools that make it very difficult for teachers to supplement, add, or take away from the given curriculum.
Textbooks are changed virtually every year. Why? To make money. The writers are looking for a way to continue to force schools to spend money on the “new edition” of the same information. The school then spends tax dollars on this supposedly “new” information which is not new at all, just simply reformatted with maybe a new chapter here or there. Not only is this an enormous waste of resources, but the textbooks are boring and many “pure and precious truths” are often removed, paraphrased, or just plain changed from their original context.

Leadership Education Curriculum

The curriculum for a Leadership Education is much simpler and costs much less than the public school curriculum model. The curriculum standard is to read the classics. I have posted pages with lists for Classics for Young Children, Classics for Youth, and Classics for Adults. Many of the classics can be found at your local library, which is where we get most of ours except the more hard to find versions. It is a tragedy that the libraries cater more to the modern idea of entertainment rather than stocking up on the truly classic works.

What is a Classic?

Quoted from “Leadership Education” by Oliver and Rachel DeMille:

A “classic” is a work worth studying over and over again, because the student learns more each time. There are classics in each and every field from history, science and literature to computer design, gene-mapping and the digital age, and even surfing, cycling, gardening, and so forth.

Why Classics?

Classics are the original works of the great minds of history and modern times. Why read someone else’s interpretation of the great books? The classics are considered classics for a reason. They are time honored works of greatness that generation after generation returns to read, quote, and make movies about.

How We Apply This Key

As I looked over the classics lists provided in “A Thomas Jefferson Education” by Oliver DeMille, I realized that I had read most of the classics for Young Children and Youth and only a few from the Adult list. I believe this had to do with the fact that once I became a teenager I turned largely to entertainment reading. How sad is that? I could have filled my time with classics rather than the romantic drivel I read as a late teen and early adult. None of that had any value, just a big time waster.
My first classic that I read after reading Oliver’s book was Emma by Jane Austen. I have loved many of the movies based on her books and decided to start there. My next challenge was to begin the 5 Pillars Certification list (suggested reading for adults starting on a Leadership Education path). I have since read Laddie, Little Britches, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Great Expectations, etc. have you noticed I have not said anything about my children yet? That is because I started by focusing on Me, not Them (another key). If I want to model a great education, I better GET a great education first.
I have felt strongly that I am starting late with my kids. They are currently 16, 13, and 11 years old. There is a bit of work, or should I say work to undo in my kids. There are several misconceptions they have about education that we are trying to overcome. So we started with teaching them the Leadership Education model. They know the Four Phases of Learning and what the phases mean. They can tell you they are a Love of Learner or a Practicing Scholar.

Posted in 8 Keys, books, classics, Classics Not Textbooks, education, TJed

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