Leadership Education: Thomas Jefferson (TJED)

How do you define a great education?

  • Learning from the leaders and thinkers of the past?
  • Understanding and being able to discuss great works?
  • Finding a place in life where you can make a difference?
  • Having access to a dedicated mentor whose goal is to help you become who you need to be?

 That is the goal of Leadership Education

Leadership Education, also called Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd), seeks to produce world changers, decision makers, and people who make a difference.  The TJEd process involves full-time mentoring, studying classical literature and other great works, eliminating distractors from children’s lives, and providing plenty of time for reading and independent study.

Through intensive study, the philosophy seeks to develop great thinkers, who ultimately become civic-minded individuals who excel at what they do.  TJEd is thought to produce students who can think, judge, debate, write, and discuss intelligently, and who are not merely learning facts and meaningless information in a “conveyor belt” fashion.

The holistic learning experience of TJEd was established and popularized by Oliver and Rachel DeMille, leadership educators who believe that a great education is possible by mentoring children and learning from the great thinkers of our past.

TJEd users allow learning to come more naturally, but deliver learning materials in stages.  The materials and readings are aligned to one of four natural phases of learning:  Core Phase, roughly ages 0-8; Love of Learning Phase, roughly 8-12; Scholar Phase, roughly 12-16; and Depth Phase, roughly 16-22.

Subjects in TJEd include history and philosophy, science and mathematics.  Some subjects, like math, are taught using more traditional resources; while others are blended together in thought, by reading great works like Aristotle, Plato, Shakespeare, historical documents, award-winning children’s literature and much more.

To learn more about a Thomas Jefferson Education, it is important to hear from its Founders, the DeMilles, and learn first what it is all about.  Begin with these:

A Thomas Jefferson Education

The Thomas Jefferson Consortium

and then find others on your own. 

A list of current TJEd resources currently available on Amazon includes THESE books.


  1. says

    One thing that struck me as sorta off is, “eliminating distractors from children’s lives, and providing plenty of time for reading and independent study,” because to someone who doesn’t know this philosophy, it may sounds as though a child’s life is nothing but study, which is not advocated by the DeMilles. In the Core Phase, in fact, they encourage a much more “Montessori” sort of education, which involves learning through PLAY and in natural environs… like teachable moments during any given day’s play-time activities. So, from the very start, TJEd does not have littles studying all the time! The heavy “hard core” study is moved into slowly and at the child’s pace starting around 8, but really moving at about 12 and then getting serious at about 16.

    Math, taught by someone who is extra serious about going the “TJEd way” would only use classics to teach Math. Classic literature that has math problems in it as well as the classical math thinkers. The more “traditional” resources used by TJEders are more for their own convenience than anything, it seems… cause the “WAY of TJEd” is to use classics to teach.

    I’m glad you wrote about this and expressed your opinion that it’s “extremely interesting”. ^_^

    • QuickStartHomeschool says

      Like everything else hs-ing, I believe these principles can be applied in different ways. I have seen the number 6-8 hours daily for study tossed about quite a bit, though not at the very youngest ages, of course :) With that, there is obviously a need to eliminate unnecessary activities from a child’s schedule, in order to allow adequate time for study. With this method, or any other, I would never advocate overloading a child anyhow. In my opinion, both study time, and down time, are necessary parts of healthy, normal development. I hope many more families will take some time to learn about TJ. Thank you for your most excellent comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *