You, Not Them
If you think these principles are exclusively or even primarily about improving your child’s education, you will never have the power to inspire them to do the hard work of self-education. Give serious focus to your education, create an environment where curiosity is activated, learning is facilitated and excellence is modeled, and then invite your children along for the ride.
In A Thomas Jefferson Education, Oliver DeMille developed, after years of research, Seven Keys of Great Teaching which form the core of great mentoring, which is what we do here at John Adams Academy. His seventh key is “YOU, NOT THEM.” I consider this to be the most important Key. Everyone here, whether teacher, parent or scholar, who stays here, is SETTING THE EXAMPLE of learning, teaching, and serving.
Set the Example. The best mentors (parents are a child’s most important mentors) are continually learning and pushing themselves. Read the classics. Study hard…pay the price in your own studies...
In our modern society, whenever education is the subject, we always want to talk about the kids. We care about them, and we know their education is important, but we also find that it’s easier to talk about their education than to improve our own. In reality, you are unlikely to pass on to your children a better education than you have earned yourself, no matter how much you push them or how good the teachers... Children tend to rise to the educational level of their parents…The most effective way to ensure the quality of their education is to consistently improve your own.
- So, what great book have you read recently?
- What new ideas have you entertained?
- What new gift or talent have you developed?
- How have you been changed?
 Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century (Cedar City, UT, 2006), 52.
 Ibid., 52-53.