Questions for the Phases of Learning in Thomas Jefferson Education

A week or so ago I was asked to give a lecture on the phases of learning for Thomas Jefferson Education for the Quest Scholar Project class that I help mentor. I remembered that I once heard Aneladee Milne give a list of questions to go with each phase, which she got from Tiffany Earl. These are questions to ask to know if you have learned the lessons of that phase. I knew I had written these questions in my Thomas Jefferson Education book. When I went to find the book, I couldn’t find it! The spot on my shelf where it goes was a gaping slot, between other books. I have loaned it to someone apparently and can’t remember who. Thank goodness for my friend Katie, who had it on her laptop when I went to Liber Academy the next day. Katie saved the day! So I am putting the questions here, to forever capture them. Plus, I added more questions from the speech that Oliver DeMille gave at a Thomas Jefferson Education Forum about depth phase. He reviewed the other phases as well, giving features of each. I also got the idea at the bottom of this post of what to do in your free time from Julie Earley’s presentation on phases of learning for adults.

Core Phase

To whom do I give my allegiance to?

God? Others? Self? Evil?

If the answer is someone other than God, then we haven’t learned the lessons of core phase, which is that we learn what is good, true, and right and what is bad, false, and wrong and choose those things consistently. This is something we are always working on. None of us perfectly choose what is good, true, and right all the time.

Self- Do I do what I do to please myself?

Others- Do I do what I do because others will approve?

God- Do I do what I do because I am submitting myself to God?

Evil- Do I do what I do because I am listening to the impostor voices in my head?

Do I love working hard and playing hard?

Love of Learning Phase

Do I love the pain that learning brings?

Have I felt the joy that learning brings?

Do I love learning?

Would I rather learn than go out for ice cream?

Scholar Phase

Do I see the world in forms, patterns. and systems?

Have I studied the liberal arts for at least 5000 hours? (7 to 8 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week, 48 weeks out of the year)

Can I speak like an orator, write like an author, read like an attorney, and calculate like a mathematician?

Do I know how to ask the right question and get the right answer through study and reflection?

Depth Phase and Mission Phase

Do I recognize the patterns in the classics? Have I allowed the power of the classics to transform me, to touch my heart, so that I want to change the world? Do I  have a mission in life, a cause to fight for?

This is Timothy Ballard on the screen, speaking to a group of people at a convention. Ballard is the founder of Operation Underground Railroad.

Here’s a screenshot of the grid I wrote on the whiteboard to go with my lecture. As you can see, I have added in the labels for each phase that harmonize with the seasons of learning. We ran out of time to finish my lecture, but for the column under “Free Time” here are the notes:

What do you do when you have free time?

If you would rather play during your free time, you are probably in core phase.

If you would rather read or learn whatever you want during your free time, you are probably in love of learning phase.

If you would rather read, study, and learn, submitting to a mentor’s guidance of what to read and learn, then you are probably in scholar or depth phase.

If you would rather work on building an organization or creating content for it, including a business, a nonprofit, or a family, then you are probably in mission phase.

Of course, the phases can overlap. They are very fluid and organic.

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