This book has got me thinking. I am now almost through Chapter 4. Honestly, I think the book is valuable for the journals alone. But some of the educational philosophy stuff has set off warning bells in my mind.
Her idea that every student ought to study for eight to twelve hours per day by the age of twelve or thirteen bothers me. It seems to focus on books to the exclusion of all else. I can’t be happy with it. There needs to be time to take walks, to serve with your hands, to develop relationships with the people around you. I do think teenagers should do hard things, and have rigorous studies, but I’m kind of on the side of the parent who pulled her student out of the school because he was studying too much. It sounded like his life was out of balance.
Just because the Founding Fathers went to university at the age of twelve or thirteen doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. There were some flaws in the thinking of the Enlightenment, such as the idea that rationality was supreme, Reason was everything. Imho, their emphasis on rationality and reason is one of the reasons philosophy went off the deep end in the 1800s with Transcendentalism.
Ask John Quincy Adams about his family life. He was an amazing person, and I am so glad the U.S. had him, but his life was not healthy. Can a person be a statesman and have a healthy life at the same time? For some reason, I think of Theodore Roosevelt when I ask this. I have only read a couple of his biographies, but he seems to have had balance as well as passion. He DID study and read and write a lot, but he disciplined his body so he could get up early and have plenty of time for other things as well, including exercise, family life, nature, music, art, service to others, developing practical skills, etc.
I think this kind of life has to be built up gradually. Teddy Roosevelt did that, beginning with physical exercise and study as a young man. I don’t have a problem with my students studying eight to twelve hours per day when it is necessary (and my high schooler does study that much at times), but there has to be time for the development of the rest of the person.
Back to the danger of deifying reason-- I do think that reason is important, but it is a servant to the ideas we embrace, whether those ideas are good or bad. The student’s job is to accept right ideas and reject wrong ones, prior to letting reason loose on them. (I am a little sketchy on how this can happen prior to reasoning them through, but it has to do with emotional attachment and making sure your assumptions line up with your belief system.) I can tell that Tiffany Earle understands this from her discussion of philosophy in her academic journal excerpts. However, I think there is a danger of ‘book learning’ being emphasized too much
Again, The Student Whisperer assumes knowledge of TJEd, and I haven’t read the book. I am speaking from a position of ignorance. I am going to ask a friend if I can borrow it.
Also, after sleeping on the first three or four chapters, I wonder how far a mentor can go before his or her inspiration becomes the ‘suggestion’ that CM denigrated. We don’t want to be manipulative. We are to feed the student on books and things (ie., nature objects, etc.) and then draw out what is already in the student that is capable of relating to those ideas and objects. I am wary of a mentor disrespecting the personhood of the child. It is too easy to become a guru. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of mentoring. I want to inspire students to something better. And I want someone to inspire ME. But I want us to think of the Lord first when we hit a roadblock. Tiffany Earle does talk about getting on your knees when you are unsure what the next step is, so I think she agrees, but this book places such importance on mentoring that it would be easy for a person to read the book and get the wrong idea. Again, I speak in ignorance of TJEd. I’ve got to get that book.
Can a person be a great mentor and avoid becoming a guru? Where is the line between inspiring and controlling? (I am using the term’s negative connotation, such as the leader of a cult.)
It does seem as if the students own their process of education in this method, although Tiffany Earle’s high school success (pre-TJEd) was motivated by emulation. Her biggest “award” on graduation day, although she received more scholarships and recognition than any other student at her school, came from the realization that one of her teachers had treated her with cordial respect not because she was smart, but because of herself. She told this story for a reason—it is important to her that students be respected not for their academic achievements, but because they are persons. I agree with that.
I may simply be responding to the possibility that this much power is capable of corrupting the mentor. Anyone in a position of profoundly influencing another person’s life has to be wary of their own weakness, of the possibility of corruption.
On the other hand, lack of wise guidance leaves young people at the mercy of their own desires, whether for good or ill. They need mentors to stand for right and model goodness. This book further illuminates how challenging it is to love and counsel teens. I was hoping it would help, not raise more questions! (It probably will. I'm only on Chapter 4.)
First narration here.