by Oliver DeMille

Core Phase parentsEmbracing the Challenge

I read somewhere a while back that while in Western nations we tend to think of student educational success as the result of being smart, Oriental cultures assume everyone will struggle with learning (because learning is supposed to be challenging) and that success is all about what a person does.

In this view, what you are is a lot less important than how diligently you work to earn a great education.

This is a very interesting comparison, one that has been considered, discussed, and debated by a number of educators.

In TJEd, however, we take a very different approach than both the Western and Oriental views.

Finding the Genius

First of all, in TJEd the goal of parents and teachers working with a child in Core Phase is to help him see that he has genius inside, that he is capable of great things, and that part of his goals in life should be about doing his best to improve and serve.

This turns the whole so-called “Western” view on its ear. For people using TJEd, every student is smart. Because, in truth, every student is smart—in one way or another.

The purpose of learning isn’t to find out who is smart, but rather to find out how and in what ways each student is smart.

Good parents and teachers know that genius is found in each child—they just need to find, nourish, encourage and support it.

Therefore, of course, every student has the opportunity to get a truly superb education. And the parents and teachers should be confident that every student will do exactly that.

As a result, adults can relax and set a better example of getting their own excellent education—not worrying each student with frantic concerns about whether the child will be a success or a failure when they’re not like every other child.

Such insecurity always hurts the student, just like a parent’s authentic confidence in a child causes the student to feel confident.

You, not Them

When the adults exhibit anxiety about the students’ education, children and youth often react with doubt, temerity and – too often – unnatural interventions where none are truly called for.

When the adult chooses certainty and sets a relaxed, good example of self-education and the pursuit of ever-deeper learning (for the parent herself), children and youth nearly always respond in kind. Emulation is the only real path to great education, after all.

The best parents and teachers who come face to face with greatness in their own pursuit of a great education set an example of self-learning that is truly worthy of emulating.

Second, during Love of Learning Phase, the best parents and teachers forget structured content and focus on whatever truly inspires the student. At the same time, they consistently put in the time.

This accomplishes at least three things:

  1. It helps the student and her mentors explore various fields of knowledge and skill and find her areas of passion and genius.
  2. It keeps the student actively and constantly engaged in learning, because it emphasizes things she loves.
  3. It allows parents and teachers to openly share their own learning passions and interests—which is incredibly inspiring to young people.

Again, the main role of the adult is to be an example of great learning.

The Right Starting Place

Third, in Scholar Phase, a youth who has confidence in her ability to learn, who deeply loves learning because she experienced a relaxed and positive Love of Learning Phase, and who knows that she has an important life mission and purpose, is naturally excited to do a lot of hard work to get a truly great education.

The problem with both the traditional Western and Oriental approaches is that they are mostly dependent on adults to give children and youth a great education.

Yet this flies in the face of reality. Both approaches are adult-centric, career-oriented, and focused on changing the student. Leadership Education, in contrast, knows that the only students who really get a great education are those who want one and choose to do the hard work necessary to get one.

Great parents and adults know that great education is always learner-centric, and also mission-focused rather than career-focused.

The truly fulfilled life includes a career that is a by-product of one’s life mission, not passionless paid drone work (however “successful” it appears) that follows a conveyor-belt education.

Likewise, the goal of great learners is to change themselves, not to allow society or others to determine their direction.

Oriental and Western models frequently deliver follower training rather than leadership education. They employ far too much that is rote, authoritarian, and institutional—versus inspiring quality, and focusing on learning rather than schooling.

The student’s learning is the real goal, after all, not the procedures, progress or accolades of the institution, teacher, curriculum or system. Great education is personalized.

Learn by Example

Finally, since a genuinely quality education requires both being smart (Western view) and doing the hard work (Oriental view), Leadership Education doesn’t choose one over the other. TJEd encourages parents and teachers to help every student realize that she has genius inside and that it will take a lot of self-inspired hard work to live up to this inner genius.

They set the example of getting a great education themselves—not back in college, but now, today, in front of the students they want to inspire.

They also relax, trust the process, and trust that with the right example and support their youth will get a superb, excellent, truly high-quality education. They show them how, and they help them each week to fall more in love with learning and (when the student is in Scholar Phase) to do the hard work of world-class learning.

Most parents and teachers in the Western and Oriental traditions do far too much focused administration of their students’ education, and set very little example of great learning. Again, this is usually combined with anxiety and stress about the kids’ schooling.

In contrast, those who want their young people to get a truly great education know that example and close mentoring (the 6 month inventory,* the weekly personalized interview with each student,* and family/group reading aloud of classics* combined with discussion*) are the real paths to great education.

That’s TJEd, and that’s great education in the West, Asia, and everywhere else.


*If these are new terms for you, you absolutely must read Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille—where each of these terms and how to apply them are taught in detail!