My evenings for the past week have been consumed with reading about Thomas Jefferson Education- a look at how the great thinkers and leaders throughout history have been educated. It is fascinating to read and learn about so many different philosophies as I navigate homeschooling for my own kids. The most striking I have come across yet was digging into the Thomas Jefferson phases of development, and relating it to all that I know about personal growth and transformation as well as my own personal journey.
For the purpose of this post I am going to focus on the first three phases. Core is the basis of our beliefs (developmental age 0-8)– where we decide what is ‘true’ for us about the world- it is safe, it is risky, I am a victim, I am capable, I am supported, everything is against me, etc. Through exploring the world in open play, we form our foundational beliefs. These beliefs inform the basis of what we see as possible in our lives and depending on how empowering or limiting they are significantly affects the progress we are able to make at later stages in our development and the life we are able to create for ourselves (unless we go back to the beginning- more on that later).
Love of Learning (developmental age 8-12) is where we start to explore- new experiences, new opportunities. We follow our curiosities and allow them to continue to inform us of who we are and what our purpose in life is. In order to successfully accomplish this step, we need to remain in a growth mindset- expansive, flexible, allowing us to be able to adjust viewpoints as we learn and grow.
Scholar phase (developmental age 12-17) is where we start to really dig into our interests- study in more ‘recognized’ ways such as writing papers, researching, in-depth analysis, etc. With an underlying understanding that we know who we are and what our interests are, learning and studying are not seen as painful and difficult, but rather interesting fulfilling.
The scholar phase, if preceded by negative experiences in Core and Love of Learning (including being rushed through them) results in mediocre academics with a love of activities phase. As their foundational learning is ‘sick’, they continue to not enjoy academics overall and would rather spend time with friends than in learning. People experiencing sick latter phases can still achieve accomplishments, but will often rely on artificial stimulus such as the love of money, status, parental approval, etc. for the wholesome foundation of truth and right and a love of knowing.
You see, in each phase of development, there is a positive or negative outcome. If kids are pushed beyond what is expansive and exciting in that stage of development, they may choose the negative outcome resulting in a ‘hate of learning’ phase instead. (ie Core when kids should be allowed lots of open playtime and sensory exploration but instead are told to ‘get back to circle time and learn your letters!’)
How do you know if your child has had this experience? Unnecessary stress, poor performance, negative response to school and learning, typical ‘coping behaviors’ like acting out, shutting down, lack of connection etc.
So the question becomes, how do we avoid this, or if we find our kids (or ourselves!) on the negative track, how do we progress? The simple answer is: once people move into this ‘negative track’ they continue on in negative fashion unless they go back and renegotiate the previous stages to the positive choices. Yes, that’s right, you have to go back to the stage where you went off track and ‘start over’.
There are so many people I talk to who feel passion-less- like they don’t REALLY know who they are or what they enjoy. It’s sad, and yet not uncommon in this culture of go-go-go, do-do-do. There are so many expectations of what success looks like, and what happiness requires, and rarely (if ever) does it include value in or time for introspection and exploration.
While I went through this process myself of beginning to listen to my intuition and following my passions, it became clear that this was indeed the foundation to everything we desire- happiness, success (on our own terms), and fulfillment. And beautifully enough, the Jefferson model follows perfectly with the coaching programs I have developed. I love it when that happens. Inspired action, for sure.
One last thing- the scholar phase is really only catalyzed in your kids if they see you engaging in it yourself. It is absolutely imperative that we ALL have this foundation.
So here it is, a quick recap to regaining YOUR inner passion and happiness!
1. Connect inward (Core)- listen to your inner voice, give space to your emotions and what they are telling you, start to uncover your limiting beliefs and reevaluate whether they really are true (for you). Use this information in informing your decisions of how you spend your time and energy.
2. Connect to your passions (Love of Learning)- remind yourself that it is ok, great even to have desires. Listen to what they are telling you, explore, expand your horizons, try new activities and experiences, meet new people, etc. Explore all that the world has to offer you and take note of what you find interesting and inspiring.
3. Dig in to your interests and clear away the clutter of everything else (Scholar)- it is easy to feel like we ‘should’ learn certain things to be educated, worthy members of society, etc. However, when we are clear on who we are and what our mission in life is (by reflecting inward), we are guided to the information that we need. Don’t let yourself get cluttered with other peoples’ expectations or beliefs of what makes you an ‘informed’ or ‘educated’ person or what ‘potential’ they see in you- it will inevitably be based on their beliefs and what is important to them and their mission. Use your time in ways that are meaningful to you and your mission (if you are reflecting inwards, you will know what they are).
This is yet another reminder that learning and growing myself is not negotiable, it is imperative to being my best self AND being the best mama I can be. And so it is for you! Enjoy the journey!
What do you think? Do you agree with this philosophy? Does this align with the trends you see happening both in schools/early years and later in life for many people (ie. a ‘mid-life crisis’)? I’d love to hear your ideas!