My Compass

compass (n.) an instrument for determining direction

In the past year, I have been doing a lot of reading about the Thomas Jefferson Leadership Education philosophy. It has really resonated with me, and I am incorporating more of the philosophy into our educational style here. Leadership education isn’t something just for the early years, though. It is meant for lifelong learning.

One of the ways we inspire our children to pursue learning is to model learning. I really believe this. This is true for most things. We can tell our children to do (or not do) something or behave a certain way all we want, but if we aren’t doing it or modeling it ourselves, the lesson will often be lost on them.
Learning, and loving learning, is no exception. This does not need to be anything “formal.” There are things that I want to learn and I need to set aside time in my day to pursue this continuing education. I benefit from this, obviously, but my kids see me reading and studying, and this models a love of learning. I want my kids to see that learning is something that we should want to do, not just something we do because someone else requires it.
One component of Leadership Education is planning and evaluating what you know and what you want to learn, This evaluation, which should be done every six months, is callled a Compass.
The details on working up a Compass are a little vague in TJEd literature, probably because this is a personal process and there are a multitude of ways to tackle it. While this can be personalized as needed, I did find a wonderful resource online. This author outlines how she does her compass, and is quite detailed in her process. I am going to be using her guide as a starting point and putting together my own six-month compass. After putting together my own compass, I will feel more confident in sitting down with Kyri and writing out her own six-month compass.
Check out Freedom Educators for an excellent outline of how to work up a Compass.
Briefly, I am working on three areas.
First, I am detailing my strengths – what I like to do and what I am good at doing. I am also building a list of my top 30 books I’ve ever read. Reading good books, classics, is a key part of the TJEd philosophy, and so reading good books that have a lasting impact on us is very important. I’ve read a lot of books over the years, so I have had to really dig deep to come up those that I would classify as my top books.
Next, I am taking a critical look at myself and listing areas that I need to strengthen. This isn’t limited to academic areas, but also includes personal growth or life skills.
Finally, I am making a plan for the next six months. Included in this plan is a list of books that I would like to read, things I would like to learn (again, not limited to academics, this includes life skills, even fun things like new hobbies), and my personal mission.
Coming up with my personal mission is a tough one. This is where I need to dig deep and think about what I am meant to do with my life. I think for my first Compass, this mission statement may end up being a little vague, but over time as I do more exploration, I will refine my mission.
The Compass is meant to be read weekly as a reminder of your personal plan. After six months, it should be reviewed and updated. What goals were accomplished? What new things were learned? What new books were read? Incorporate your accomplishments into your new compass.
I am looking forward to this process. It is so easy to make plans or set goals for ourselves and then lose sight of them, only to wonder later why we didn’t accomplish anything.

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