This is what I’ve taken away from my reading in Thomas Jefferson Education so far.
No, my children are not well-trained in doing their chores — I’ve done badly at that, probably because I need to train myself first.
But that points to what we are doing right. We are reading and learning alongside our children. That doesn’t mean we are reading and learning what they are learning — there are three languages being learned in our house right now, and none of them are Italian, the language I need to start on for a possible trip next year (!!!!) But the parents in our house are always reading and learning, and in my case, leading. (TJEd is sometimes referred to as Leadership Education). I am drawn to leadership positions like a moth to a flame — not because I am organized (that I am not) or even especially personable, but because I have a good big-picture view of things, I’m a a good problem-solver, and I tend not to get caught up in personal stuff. So when that leadership vacuum opens up — as it always does, because no one else is dumb enough wants to do it — there I am.
My children are growing up in a house where the adults love to read about history, discuss complex political ideas at the dinner table, bring words like “aesthetic” into conversations with the kids (somehow that came up in the car today). They live in a house where there is never enough room for all the books, and after 13 years of marriage we continue to weed out multiple copies of “the classics.” (How many Paradise Losts do you really need?) They tag along when mom has a meeting.
The author of TJEd spends some time exhorting readers to have this kind of home, which reminded me that although we experience ourselves as 100% typical (especially since we tend to accumulate friends who are much the same), we’re not. I’m not saying we’re better than families that don’t work this way, but I am saying that I think it gives our kids an advantage when it comes to learning and when it comes to their participation as productive members of the community, not as job holders but as citizens and people who make a difference.
In short, I think I am getting the message that JOve has been giving me for a while now. I worry about the dire predictions for gifted kids, for girls, for teenagers, for college applicants, forgetting that I have already taken big steps in a positive direction. We have a lifestyle — and by this I don’t just mean homeschooling — that ameliorates those risks, even when we aren’t making a concerted effort to address them.