The Education Liberator, Vol. 2, No. 10, December 1996/January 1997
But Uncle Thomas, where's my self-esteem module?
Jefferson's view of a proper education
Thomas Jefferson wrote the following in a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, in 1785. In the same letter, Jefferson advises young Peter to take at least two hours every day away from studies for exercise, and warns him against sitting up too late!
...I have long ago digested a plan for you, suited to the circumstances in which you will be placed. This I will detail to you, from time to time, as you advance. For the present, I advise you to begin a course of ancient history, reading everything in the original and not in translations. First read Goldsmith's history of Greece. This will give you a digested view of that field. Then take up ancient history in the detail, reading the following books, in the following order: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophontis Anabasis, Arian, Quintus Curtius, Diodorus Siculus, Justin. This shall form the first stage of your historical reading, and is all I need mention to you now. The next will be of Roman history.* From that, we will come down to modern history. In Greek and Latin poetry, you have read or will read at school, Virgil, Terence, Horace, Anacreon, Theocritus, Homer, Euripides, Sophocles. Read also Milton's "Paradise Lost," Shakespeare, Ossian, Pope's and Swift's works, in order to form your style in your own language. In morality, read Epictetus, Xenophontis Memorabilia, Plato's Socratic dialogues, Cicero's philosophies, Antoninus, and Seneca.... The plan I have proposed is adapted to your present situation only. When that is changed, I shall propose a corresponding change of plan....
* Livy, Sallust, Caesar, Cicero's epistles, Suetonius, Tacitus, Gibbon. [Jefferson's footnote]
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