Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Building a Community (Amy)

Thanks Darla for the comment. It was enough to spur me to write another post. I've been meaning to for a while, but life seems to get in the way (and by life I mean the fact that we are in Florida for 10 weeks while my husband attends some training).

A community is an essential part of Leadership Education. As my 13 year old son enters scholar phase, his peer group is going to be of utmost importance. As I continue teaching my children with the 7 Keys, my peer group is also important. We both need support. We also need opportunities to lead.

For my son, he needs other youth who love learning; who would love to attend a constitutional convention, or a book club. Youth who want to discuss more than the last video game. These kind of kids are out there, I just need to help round them up and get them together so that they can start discussing and supporting.

As for me... well, I'd like to attend a book club with my peers and discuss some great literature. I'd like to have the support of other parents when I'm struggling and need a lift. This too is possible, I just need to reach out and find some "like-minded" families.

Now I've used the word just a few times. Like it's just going to happen. I have a few things going for me. I've helped build a community before. So it's not a new procedure. Our community in North Pole, Alaska was just starting to bud when we moved. We had a grown-up book club going, a couple youth book clubs in progress, we had a "Young Knights Club" and a math club and I heard that a young girl's club started up this year. So its on it's way to a full blown blossom. (Just talking like this makes me miss all the amazing families up there so much!)

I also have a few obstacles I'll need to overcome. First, we won't be in our new location for too long either. We have two years before we move again. The good thing is, we had everything I mentioned above in place quickly and it was going strong after the first year. So I'll have a year to reap the benefits. I also had a friend (Kim) who discovered truth in the TJEd principles at the same time I did and worked tirelessly beside me to inspire our community. I'm going to miss her as a sounding board for ideas and also as another strong leader. We're also in a tiny, isolated community. I don't have an idea yet how many homeschoolers we have, but I'm hopeful.

So I'll start from scratch, knowing that every few years as we move with the Coast Guard, I'll leave good friends and community behind to start yet again. But my family is worth every ounce of hard work it will take.

My first step will be reaching out. {I'm talking in future sense because I'll have to wait until we're done in Florida to start. So as much as I'm raring to go, I'm finding joy in the journey.} I've brushed up on my TJEd by rereading the books, especially Leadership Education. If you don't have this book, you MUST get it. If you have it, read it again. It's your foundation for how-to use TJEd in your home.

I've already met a couple families interested in Leadership Education. This comes from talking. When people find out we homeschool there are usually questions, whether they homeschool or not. I use this as an opportunity to talk about TJEd. I mention a few principles depending on how much time I have and that usually peaks their interest and will start a discussion, or we'll plan for a time to get together and talk.

Then I'll plan an "Intro to TJEd" night. Have you listened to The 7 Keys of Great Teaching by Oliver DeMille? Its great and covers the perfect material for an intro. So I'll listen to that again, go through A Thomas Jefferson Education again and invite people over to my house to hear more about Leadership Education. I've got a white board and I'll show the 3 types of education, the initial 3 phases of education and then the 7 Keys of great teaching.

We did intros before when we were hosting the "Face to Face with Greatness" series. But I think it's the perfect way to get people interested. As more people hear about it and want more information, I'll plan more intros.

While I'm doing that, I'll be talking to friends and those I meet about a grown-up book club. Many people outside TJEd don't have the time for this. But if you can show how important it is to be an example to your children, usually you can gather enough people for a discussion. It only takes 2. For several months it was just Kim and I reading books from the 5 Pillar Certification.

The easiest part of the whole thing is the youth book club. Parents understand this. They want their youth to read and discuss. The hardest part is getting the parents to read and discuss with their youth. My plan is to start this in the fall. I'll get a reading list made up and a schedule prepared and then start inviting. I love this part! I love the youth and I really enjoy teaching. I'm going to work more on leading a discussion rather than lecturing this time around.

The youth who attend don't have to come from families who use TJEd. If you host it in the evening, they don't even have to be homeschooled. The goal is to get youth together who love to read and teach them to discuss classic literature.

As we get to know our community better, I'll look around and see what else we need. In North Pole that was a math club to inspire a love of math. If we need that in Kodiak, I'll do that again. What about a dance class for young teenagers? I'd love to learn some ballroom dancing and I think it would be great for youth too. An opportunity to get comfortable with public speaking would be awesome too. I'm not an expert in any of these things, but I only have to be one chapter ahead. I could also find someone who is an expert and help facilitate the group.

My husband is a pilot and he's going to teach an aviation class this fall. We wanted to do this before, but weren't able to get it together. We'll find some youth in our area who are interested in learning more about aviation and invite them over for a couple hours on Saturday, or maybe in the afternoon/evening once a week when my husband is off work. He'll probably use the Boy Scout Aviation Merit Badge as a syllabus to start with and go from there. It won't be fancy, but it will be fun.

You could do this with anything that you or your children are interested in. Just invite others along for the ride. It will be through these little pieces that we build a community who values self education and lifetime learning.

This is probably enough for this post. If you've got questions about any of the pieces I talked about, leave a comment and I'll go into more detail. Good luck in building your own community!


Tate Family said...

Amy, Thanks for your post.

aksunflower said...

Amy, I will be praying for you as you start the process (once again) to build a community. Like you said, it is hard because you will only be there for 2 years. Since we only planned to be here for 6 months, I didn't put the work into seeking out like minded folks here in Hawaii. Now we have decided to return home for 2 weeks then come back to Hawaii for 6 more weeks. I wish in the beginning I would have jumped right in on building a community.
One blessing is the Lord helped us rent a home across the street from a homeschooling family! The mom and I have talked about starting a book club, but it has not gotten off the ground yet.
Your posts do inspire me. Thanks!