Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adult Leadership Education on a Mother's Budget of Time and Money

I've been thinking about this topic (mentioned in the title of this post) a lot lately. Many times when I am thinking about something, somehow the vibes go out to other people and then they start talking about it. So on one of the TJED email lists I am on some moms were talking about how to get a leadership education when you can't afford classes at George Wythe University (GWU).

I would really love to get my master's and PhD from GWU just so I have the knowledge about government and history and economy, based in the classics, guided by a mentor of liberal arts. All of those subjects fascinate me. I want these degrees even though the school is unaccredited. (I already have a bachelor's from an accredited school, BYU, but I have to confess, I picked my major based on how fast I could be done with school and get on to real life, not how much I was really interested in the subject. And no, it's not Family Life or Psychology.) But I don't have the money for the degree program right now. The time is not really right anyway with my new baby. I think one more obligation would make me go crazy. I am still figuring out how to get the six older kids to get the laundry all folded and put away. (I refuse to do it all. My days of folding laundry while nursing with two little kids running around are over.)

I would like to attract this education into my life, and the best way to do that is to organize my life and set up forms and systems that will allow this education to flow easily along with my homemaking, homeschooling, and mothering. So I am practicing studying what I would be studying if I were taking GW classes. The school has started an online program for students anywhere in the world that allows for interactivity in real time. Sounds cool. I can't wait to do it. Are any of you doing it?

Perhaps you want this education too. You, like me perhaps, want an education that will help you redeem this country from socialism and allow you to stand for liberty. small government, and strong families. You want to inspire your children to get a world-class education. Remember, an education is not so much about a degree from a fancy institution as it is studying words, getting great ideas into your head, thinking about them, asking the right questions, then recording your answers. Here's a strategy. Remember this is coming from a real life mom with seven kids who only sits down to eat, nurse, and drive. (I blog standing up...just kidding!) Having time to sit and study for an hour is impossible on a daily basis.

1. Contact the school and ask them to send you the booklet that details the curriculum for the undergraduate, master's and PhD programs. This is the booklet they pass out at their "Statesmanship Retreats" which is a fancy term for a two-day advertisement to sign the dotted line and become a student. I went to one two years ago and enjoyed it, despite the commercial aspect.

2. Pick the degree program you want.

3. Pick a book in the degree program and get it from your public library or bookstore. Put this book in a place where you nurse the baby. That way it's always there.

4. Pick another book to have in the car to read while waiting to pick up kids at classes. Have another book in your diaper bag or purse for pack meeting time.

5. Pick another book to have at any other place you nurse.

6. Find out if any of the books on the list are on CD from your library. Listen while fixing meals. You can also find many things, like Democracy in America, and The Federalist Papers, at I got my tech assistant (16-year-old son) to put these on my iPod and am so grateful for that.

7. Have another CD in the car to listen to while you drive. I have listened to the 5000 Year Leap about three times through now over the past year and a half just from all the driving around I do. It only put me to sleep once while driving. On second thought, listen to the 5000 year leap while in the house.

6. Have something handy to record the epiphanies you get. I just happened to have recently replaced my cell phone since the old one died. The new one has a voice recorder. i keep it in my pocket and record what I am learning. I can even record ideas while I am changing a diaper or nursing.

7. Have one time period a week where you transcribe what you record into a notebook. I am still figuring this one out. This time might be while I am waiting in Bountiful during my son's dance class. Maybe I will have one or two pages in my book devoted to each book I am working on and then eventually I will put them in a three-ring binder.

8. During your mealtimes, tell your children and husband what you are learning. Ask them to ask questions and see if they can stump you. This might be hard since they aren't reading what you are reading and don't know the answers they are examining you for. On page 120 of the book, Leadership Education; The Phases of Learning Rachel DeMille tells the story of realizing that she was spending four hours a day fixing meals. She decided to turn that time into study time. I am not sure what that looked like, I am wondering if that means she started listening to books on CD and then had Oliver quiz her over mealtime. We don't all have Oliver for a husband but I bet our husbands and kids are smart enough to get into the spirit of oral examinations for the benefit of our liberal arts education.

9. Sign up at and find reviews of the books you are reading/listening to. Email those people on goodreads questions about their comments. Check out the favorite quotes from the books as well. You probably know a few GW grads or current students who you can find on goodreads or just plain email and ask them questions. If you don't know any and want some names, let me know.

10. You can maybe find some people at in your own town to ask questions or join their book discussion groups

11. Rachel DeMille has a ning network for TJEDers. You could start a discussion there. Contact her at to find out how to join the ning.

12. Email me and let me know the exciting things you are learning!

13. If you are having a hard time getting into these books, which admittedly can be as dense as bricks, then take a break and read from a book geared more for love of learning, like all of Glenn Beck's books. They are funny and teach you history, politics, and government at the same time.


  1. I really appreciate this post. I've struggled plenty of times with wanting to really get down and study with five (almost six) children to school and take care of at the same time. Scholar Phase sounds like a beautiful dream when they talk about it in the TJEd books, LOL! I'll have to track down that pamphlet and see what I can come up with. THANKS!

  2. P.S. And you're right - I'm already looking forward to another newborn for all the sitting/nursing time. I always get lots and lots of reading done then!

  3. great ideas! I enjoyed your post. Now, anyone want to read crime and punishment with me??

    Tanya B

  4. Good luck with your studies! I started a Great Books study group last summer and it has been amazing. There is no way I could force myself to read this stuff without it. I share the stories from it with my children and husband so we are all benefiting.