September 3, 2008

Our Process

This year we are loosely following the Leadership Education model suggested by Dr. Oliver deMille in his book, A Thomas Jefferson Education. Our goal is to create a learning environment where great books are discussed and ideas are created.

"Leadership Education, which I call “Thomas Jefferson Education,” teaches students how to think and prepares them to be leaders in their homes and communities, entrepreneurs in business, and statesmen in government." Dr. Oliver deMille, pg. 21, 27

Our process, therefore, will rely heavily on reading and studying each book and learning as much from it as possible. To this end, we are working through Mortimer Adler's book, How to Read A Book, as well as spending a great deal of time reading classical works. We are also devoting a fair chunk of time to Traditional Logic studies, which will strengthen both the mind and the will to understand the complexities of the materials we are reading.


I have scheduled in two daily reading periods. I am estimating approximately 2 hours total (one hour each), though this will be very flexible and will greatly depend on the book being read. Some books will require less time, while others will need more. I have tried to keep the amount of reading consistent throughout the year and hopefully our book list will end up working with us and not against us.

Daily activity includes: reading, studying lessons, vocabulary, looking at maps, reading supplemental articles for analysis, and generally keeping notes on individual books.

The student is responsible for completing all assignments before the end of school on Friday. This year, the teacher is not breaking down the reading assignments into small, manageable chunks; but, rather is asking the student to manage their own time and budget it accordingly to make sure all assignments are completed.


Every Friday we will meet to discuss the books from the week. Our discussion will include a summary or recap (by the student) along with any interesting observations or implied connections to other works from the week. We will use the Socratic Method for guided discussion. In this time-honored technique, the teacher asks a series of questions that lead the students to examine the validity of an opinion or belief. This is a powerful teaching method because it actively engages the learner and forces critical thinking, which is just what is needed in examining ethics, values, and other character issues.

The student will be required to submit his Ancient Civilizations notebook and will be graded on overall neatness and thoroughness of the contents. The student will be required to add to his notebook throughout the week and these papers will be checked for completion.

  • Context - These are short, one to two paragraph, pages that include background and summary information about the period being studied. We will use the Timetables of History for our source book. The student is to keep one or more pages for every book read. In some cases, the context page will cover several different books. The student may choose to write a context page on a specific topic in the period such as a person, key event or a general overview. A general overview page is required. The other pages are additional and are up to the discretion of the student.
  • Book Notes - note taking is an important tool in the learning process and as such we are spending a great deal of time learning how to take book notes. Our reference work is Mortimer Adler's book, How to Read a Book. Book notes are required for every book we read. They can consist of an outline, a listing of key events or a snippets of the plot of the book.
  • Compositions - weekly compositions will be required for each book. These may be 1-2 pages in length and will recap the story or will explore some specific point in the story, a key character or his/her motivation, or the student's observations/opinions about the book itself.

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