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TJEd and the “French Way”

May 14th, 2012 // 7:46 am @

A book review of Druckerman’s Bringing up Bébé

Many people around the world are discovering principles of great education that those using TJEd are already applying. The “conveyor belt” approach to learning has two big competitors in this second decade of the twenty-first century.

I Can Conform Better Than You Can

The first can be summed up as, “Don’t just participate in the conveyor belt — excel at it!” This is the idea widely popularized in the Tiger Mom book[i] and debate that swept through American education circles during the past two years.

The second approach, the one adopted by Montessori, TJEd and other highly-effective educational viewpoints, recently gained another proponent. In the enjoyable book Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, we learn about core principles the author observed in the parenting philosophy and style of French parents. Those familiar with TJEd will hear a familiar ring to these “French” techniques, and all of us can learn from these ideas.

Les Sept Clés

For example, according to Druckerman, here are some of the “secrets” of effective parenting widely utilized in the French culture:

  • A focus on parenting as a pleasure rather than a chore or grind
  • An emphasis on helping children experience growing up as a joy rather than a job
  • Taking it slow and enjoying the journey rather than rushing to stay ahead of the neighbors’ kids or meet standards set by unnamed experts
  • “Establishing firm but gentle authority…”
  • “Favoring creative play over lots of lessons…”
  • “Never letting a child become the center of your existence”[ii]
  • Realizing that children aren’t “projects for their parents to perfect. They are separate and capable, with their own tastes…”[iii]

“French parents just don’t seem so anxious for their kids to get head starts,” Druckerman tells us, but rather help them experience quality in growing up and learning.[iv] The focus is more on the current goal of being happy children and the end goal of becoming well-adjusted adults than on striving for adult goals as toddlers and young children.

Throughout the book, those using TJEd will find familiar themes couched in an evocative European experience. The following ideas show up repeatedly and in new and interesting ways:

  • Classics
  • Mentors
  • Structure time, not content
  • You, not them
  • Simple, not complex
  • Quality, not conformity
  • Secure, not stressed
  • Teach to the appropriate phase, not one-size-fits-all education
  • Personalize, instead of joining the conveyor belt

Above all, Druckerman highlights the French emphasis on wisdom[iv] (rather than grades, gold stars, or other external accolades) as the central purpose of learning — and for that matter, of family and life.

The fact that Druckerman is an American who learned these principles while living in France adds to the flavor—it is practical in the “American” sort of way while being idealistic and even artistic in the French way. In short, it’s a great read, even if you don’t use TJEd but especially if you do!


[i] See Oliver’s commentary on Tiger Moms here and here.

[ii] See “Books: Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman,” Reviewed by Kim Hubbard, People, February 20,2012.

[iii] Pamela Druckerman, Bringing up Bébé.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] See Oliver’s commentary on “Wisdom” here and here and here.


Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Education &Family &Featured

Resolve to read this book.

February 25th, 2012 // 8:37 am @

A review of Orrin Woodward’s game-changing new book, Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE

by Oliver DeMille

The freedom of any society is directly related to the quality of books that are widely read in that society. That said, there are some books everyone should read, like The Federalist Papers and Democracy in America.* And in a society like ours where we are desperate for more leaders at all levels, truly excellent books on leadership are vital to the future of freedom.

I recently read a book on leadership that everyone simply must read. It is Resolved, by Orrin Woodward.

I’ve read Woodward’s books before, so when this one arrived in the mail I put away everything else and read it straight through. It kept me up most of the night, and it was so worth it!

This is a fabulous book on leadership. It outlines 13 resolutions every person should make in our modern world, and gives specific helps on how to turn them into habits. Indeed, this book could be titled The 13 Habits of Success and Happiness for Everyone. The stories and examples from great leaders of history and current events are moving and uplifting. I literally have never read a better book on leadership than this one.

Woodward’s book is on par with the great leadership works like:

It is truly a revolution in leadership books.

The 13 resolutions are exactly what we need leaders to adopt across our society. They are applicable to family and home leadership, community and business leadership, and societal and national leadership. They apply to the United States and other countries, and together they form a blueprint for renewing America and innovating a new and better Western Civilization.

The book is divided into three parts: private resolutions, public resolutions and leadership resolutions. Each of the 13 resolutions build upon each other, and together they create an effective and motivating system of becoming a better person and leader. They help the reader improve in career and in societal impact.

This focus on societal leadership is both timely and profound. In the 1950s we experienced a major “leader-shift” in society. Before World War II, most communities were led by professionals—doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, etc.—and before that by big landowners and even earlier tribal chiefs. The management revolution started by Edward Deming and popularized by Ray Kroc changed the focus of leading society from professionals to managers. This was captured in William Whyte’s great 1956 classic The Organization Man.

By the 1980s another major leader-shift occurred, this time from management (“do things right”) to leadership (“do the right things”). The great transitional classic of this shift was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It outlined 7 habits that leaders needed in order to help their companies excel, and these habits became part of the mainstream language: for example, “Be Proactive,” “Think Win-Win,” and “Synergize.” Another great classic of this shift was Synergetics by Buckminster Fuller. The leadership revolution brought a whole new vision of what is means to be a leader.

Today we are witnessing a similar leader-shift, this time from leadership of organizations (“do the right things”) to leadership of society (“move society in the right direction”). Woodward’s Resolved is a seminal classic in this change. In fact, some of the early books in this change include Launching a Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, The 8th Habit by Stephen Covey, and Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman.

Woodward is more than an author; he has actually put these 13 resolutions to work in his business leadership. For this leadership, Orrin Woodward was named the 2011 International Association of Business’s Top Leader of the Year Award. His book Resolved outlines how we can all become such leaders.

In Resolved, Woodward shares a host of ideas and effective means of using family, business and societal leadership to impact the world. For example, he shows how Gibbon and Toynbee taught the laws of decline that are now attacking our culture and modern free nations.

He shows the three types of freedom and why they depend on each other—and how the loss of one is actually a loss of all. He helps leaders understand how freedom and character are inseparable and at the root of all societal progress and therefore leadership. His model of “Leadership Legacy” alone is worth the price of the book, and adds a whole new dimension to leadership literature.

Woodward adds several other new models to the leadership genre. He shows how five important laws from science, economics and history (Sturgeon’s Law, Bastiat’s “Law,” Gresham’s Law, the Law of Diminishing Returns, and the Law of Inertia) are combing in our current world, and what leaders need to understand and do about these five laws—individually and collectively.

These five laws are already part of our mainstream culture, but the analysis of how they are working together and what future leaders must do about it is new, deep and profound. No leader can afford not to understand this cutting-edge thinking.

On a stylistic note, Woodward consistently uses fascinating quotes, ideas, stories, historical examples and even one equation in ways that make the reader see things in a whole new way. For example, he puts an intriguing new twist on Chaos Theory, the Butterfly Effect, a poem by Yeats, Systems Theory, the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, credit card usage, American Idol, the “TriLateral Leadership Ledger,” the IBM way, Aristotle on true friendship, and many other delightful references from every field of thought –all written in a highly understandable and enjoyable way.

After I read Resolved the first time, I placed it next to my work chair and each day I open it randomly and read the quotes or stories on whatever page opens. It is always uplifting. Here are a few topics I’ve studied in Resolved during such random reading:

  • Why courage isn’t pragmatism
  • Producers vs. Exploiters
  • A commentary on Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Principle
  • The common reasons 23 major civilizations in history declined, and how we can avoid their mistakes
  • The combining of mind, heart and will
  • Charles Garfield on Success through Visualization
  • Will Smith’s work ethic
  • Never whine, never complain, never make excuses—and what to do instead
  • Woodward’s 10 principles of financial literacy (Wow! Every American should study these.)
  • Five steps for effective conflict resolution—in family, business and beyond
  • How to really build business systems that work
  • Henry Hazlitt’s economics in one lesson—and how to really understand the economy
  • The conflict between creativity and realism in national leadership

There is so much more. In one example, Woodward quotes G.K. Chesterton after he was asked to write an essay on “What’s Wrong with the World?” Chesterton wrote simply: “Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G.K. Chesterton.” This, in summary, is what Resolved is all about. The rest of the book, all 13 resolutions, teaches us how to effectively become the leaders the world needs—and that we were born to be.

This book has articulated the leadership motto of the 21st Century: “It has been said that everyone wants to change the world but few feel the need to change themselves. Even a basic study of history, however, demonstrates that those who first focus upon self-improvement usually ending up doing the most good in the world.”

Gandhi taught the same sentiment when he said that we must be the change we wish to see in the world, and Woodward quotes Confucius in saying that those who want to improve the world must ultimately focus on bettering themselves.

Buddha is credited with saying that our purpose in life is to find our purpose in life, and then to give our whole heart and soul to accomplishing this purpose. Perhaps no generation more exemplified such leadership by example than the American founders, and Woodward discusses them and their words (especially Washington and Franklin) at length in showing us how to become the leaders we meant to be.

Woodward also shows examples of effective leadership from such greats as Sam Walton, John Wooden, Ludwig von Mises, and Roger Bannister, among others.

I could go on and on. Resolved really does, in my opinion, mark a leader-shift to a whole new level of leadership training for the new Century. If you are only going to get one book on leadership, this is the one. What a great book. Our whole society needs to study more about leadership, and apply what we learn.

*Links to book titles provided for your convenience in reviewing and purchasing referenced books. Any purchases on amazon initiated from these links result in amazon sharing a portion of their profits with TJEd. Thanks so much for your support!



odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Business &Entrepreneurship &Family &Leadership &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Mission &Producers &Prosperity &Service &Statesmanship

Education Insights: Unschooling Rules (A Book Review)

December 14th, 2011 // 8:27 am @

Once in a while a truly great book comes along that you just can’t wait to tell everyone else to read. Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich is that kind of book.

I started reading in the afternoon and couldn’t put it down until I finished.

My first thought when I completed the last page was, “I wish I had written this!” My second thought was, “I need to read this again.”

Those who have read and studied A Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) or Leadership Education will find this book especially enjoyable. It covers a lot of TJEd themes, but with its own interesting twist.

As I read it I kept saying, “Yes! Absolutely! Right on!” I haven’t seen a book so totally capture the vision of Leadership Education in home school in a long time.

But I’ll let this outstanding book speak for itself. Here are some quotes from this fabulous little book:

“In many schools across the world, children en masse get dropped off and enter buildings where they become the recipient of linear ‘teaching’ and tests. They go home, do homework, and start over again the next day—all for the goal of preparing them for the next level of school and meeting broad and dubiously constructed standards.”

A better “…type of learning answers such questions as: ‘What do I love doing?’ ‘What is my dream?’ ‘What gives me energy?’ ‘What are my unique strengths?’ and even ‘What is my role in a group?’”

“There are two reasons to learn something: either because you need it or because you love it.”

“Twenty-five critical skills are seldom taught, tested or graded….adapting, analyzing and managing risks…being a leader…gathering evidence, identifying and using boards of mentors and advisors…managing projects, negotiating, planning long term…”

“Don’t worry about preparing students for jobs from an Agatha Christie novel…”

“One computer + one spreadsheet software program = math curricula.”

“Five subjects a day? Really?”

“Maturing solves a lot of problems.”

“Grouping students by the same age is just a bad idea.”

“Tests don’t work. Get over it. Move on.”

“The future is portfolios, not transcripts.”

“Outdoors beats indoors.”

“The predominant academic milieu should be walking. When walking, children can talk. They can think.”

“Under-schedule to take advantage of the richness of life.”

“But it will not be the governments, or their school systems, or other of their institutions that will drive real innovation in reconstructing childhood education. It will be as it already is, the homeschoolers and the unschoolers.”

These are just a sample of the many wise things in Unschooling Rules. As I said, this book fits right in with the TJEd model of leadership education and home school. I highly recommend it book for every parent, teacher and administrator involved in modern education. It is a manual for great learning.

My friend Jeff Sandefer wrote in the forward to this excellent book:

“Each child has a spark of genius waiting to be discovered, ignited, and fed. And the goal of schools shouldn’t be to manufacture ‘productive citizens’ to fill some corporate cubicle; it should be to inspire each child to find a ‘calling’ that will change the world. The jobs for the future are no longer Manager, Director, or Analyst, but Entrepreneur, Creator, and even Revolutionary.”

This is a great book for our time — whether you home school or not. Five stars! I hope you’ll read it right away. If you are new to TJEd, read this great book right along with A Thomas Jefferson Education.

If you’re already familiar with TJEd, Unschooling Rules provides another excellent witness of what really works for truly quality education. This book belongs on every shelf, and its ideas need to be in every mind!


odemille 133x195 custom The Amazing (Ironic/Tragic) DebateOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Education &Family &Leadership

The Big Debate on American Education

November 4th, 2011 // 4:39 pm @

Home Schools, the New Private Schools, and Other Non-Traditional Learning

The current national commentary on American education is split by a major paradox.

On the one hand, nearly all the experts are convinced that our schools must find a way to effectively and consistently teach the values and skills of innovation and initiative.

If we fail in this, everyone seems to agree, the competitiveness of U.S. workers and the economy will continue to fall behind other nations.

As Gary Shapiro wrote:

“Our nation is looking into the abyss. With a blinding focus on the present, our government is neglecting a future that demands thoughtful action.

“The only valid government action is that which invests in our children. This requires hard choices…

“America is in crisis. What is required is a commitment to innovation and growth. We can and must succeed.

“With popular and political resolve, we can reverse America’s decline…. America must become the world’s innovative engine once again; we cannot fail.”

And education is the key.

On the other hand, many of the top education decision-makers seem committed to only making changes when there is a consensus among educators, parents, experts and administrators.

They adamantly criticize any who take bold, innovative initiate to improve the situation.

In the meantime, they wait timidly, albeit loudly, for a consensus which never comes.

Because of this view, the innovative success of many parents in home schools, teachers in small private schools and other non-traditional educational offerings go unnoticed or undervalued by the national press.

The reality is, as Orrin Woodward put it: “If everyone agrees with what you’re doing, it isn’t innovative.”

The growing Global Achievement Gap in our schools, as outlined by Tony Wagner’s book of this title, presents an ominous warning for Americans.

We can change things if we choose, Wagner says, by adopting the following values and skills in our school curriculum: critical thinking, agility, adaptability, initiative, curiosity, imagination and entrepreneurialism, among others.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan quoted Wagner in Foreign Affairs:

“…there is a happy ‘convergence between the skills most needed in the global knowledge economy and those most needed to keep our economy safe and vibrant.’”

He also foreshadowed the decades ahead by quoting President Obama:

“The nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow.”

It is difficult to imagine our public schools meeting these lofty needs if our teachers are expected to be anything but entrepreneurial, innovative and agile, when they in fact work in an environment that discourages and at times punishes precisely such behaviors.

It is even more impossible to make the needed changes to our education system if we must wait for everyone to agree on a consensus of action.

Change always comes with a few courageous souls taking the lead, showing what can work, and helping others follow their innovative path.

The only way we’re going to see a burst of innovation and initiative in American education is to start paying attention to the myriad exciting educational innovations already occurring.

As Malcolm Gladwell suggests, the leadership right now in many arenas—including education—is occurring outside the mainstream, led by “Outliers” who just forget the experts and create new and better ways of doing things.

If you are one of these educational innovators—at home or in the classroom—keep taking the lead. You are the future of American success!


Category : Education &Family &Featured &Leadership &Liberty &Mission

Review of Don Peck’s “Can the Middle Class be Saved?”

August 29th, 2011 // 2:00 pm @

This article in The Atlantic by Don Peck is a must-read for those who are interested in the future of American freedom and prosperity. Highlights from the article include:

  • The United States is “now composed of two distinct groups: the rich and the rest. And for the purposes of investment decisions, the second group” doesn’t matter.
  • The new name for this state of society, coined by three analysts at Citigroup, is “plutonomy.”
  •  “A 2010 Pew study showed that the typical middle-class family had lost 23 percent of its wealth since the recession began, versus just 12 percent in the upper class.”
  • The lifestyles of non-professional college graduates now more closely resemble those of high-school dropouts than of the professional class.
  • The meritocracy is increasingly only a meritocracy of the upper classes.
  • “Among the more pernicious aspects of the meritocracy is the equation of merit with test-taking success.”
  • “For the most part, these same forces have been a boon, so far, to Americans who have a good education and exceptional creative talents or analytic skills.”
  • Most Americans don’t want the middle class to disappear or continue to shrink, and such a development would certainly bring a drastic change to the people-based freedom that has characterized the historical successes of the United States.
  • These trends, and the growing divide between the rich and the rest, are increasing the longer the economy remains sluggish.

Peck gives a number of suggestions for improving this situation, including:

  • Increasing the funding for effective job training and education.
  • “Removing bureaucratic obstacles to innovation is as important as pushing more public funds toward it.”
  • Changing our public policy to accelerate innovation.
  • Significantly improving our schools.
  • Creating clear paths of training and skilled work for those who don’t go to college.
  • Altering current immigration policy to allow more “creative, highly skilled immigrants” to come to the U.S. more easily.

Whether or not you agree with Peck’s recommendations, one reality is clear: The success of these things ultimately depends on incentivizing entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and economic growth.

By spurring significant economic growth, we will directly and indirectly address most of our national economic problems.

On the other hand, if government policies continue to thwart major innovation and growth, little can be done.

Peck makes a case for higher taxes, but hardly mentions that Washington has a serious spending problem.

Democrats typically argue for tax hikes, while Republicans now mostly champion spending cuts.

Most Independents, in contrast, would likely support both—as long as the tax hikes on the professional class were used not to increase or maintain federal spending but rather to directly help put America’s financial house back in order.

Whatever your view on this debate, it is a discussion desperately needed right now.

Too much of the rhetoric on this topic is just that—two sides deeply entrenched and firmly committed to one view only.

We need fresh ideas and inspiring leadership to move beyond this gridlock.

With all this said, Peck’s article is mandatory reading. Every American should think about its main points.

Most will find things to disagree with, perhaps, but the dialogue is needed.

If the middle class is to survive and thrive, it must increase its role of deeply considering, thinking about and making its views felt on important economic and other national issues.

Freedom only works when involved citizens of all socio-economic levels actively participate in such important national discussions.


odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Aristocracy &Book Reviews &Community &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Family &Featured &Statesmanship

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