J.L.L. believes that the “Seven Keys of Great Teaching” are wrong.  As written in the title of a post by the same name found here.

He falls prey to the very problems that he accuses Oliver Demille of having, specifically a lack of “proof” for  his assertions of what makes great teaching.  J.L.L. merely cites to anecdotal evidence from his own point of view to “prove” his points and leaves the argument to stand as is as if his statements are all that is required to completely refute the statements and writing of Oliver Demille.

The difficult question is what is sufficient “proof”?  To a doubter or skeptic there is never any sufficient amount of proof that will make something true to them.  Furthermore, you have to decide what is a valid appeal to authority or a point of reference to determine whether something is accurate or not.  Regardless of how you feel about when something is proven, there is something a little disconcerting in J.L.L.’s certain smugness that he is right and Oliver Demille is wrong.

J.L.L does not seem (at least as judged by his writing) to appreciate the differences or shades of meaning between inspire and require.  Two examples from his post should illustrate the problem.

Under the heading “4. Structure Time, Not Content.” J.L.L. explains

In fact, just the other day I told my kids that if they finish a certain piano book to the satisfaction of their mother, then they can play whatever other instrument they want and I’ll get them the instrument and the lessons. That’s is not to say they would never be allowed play another instrument unless they finish that book. Just that if they did finish that book it would demonstrate a level of proficiency of reading music and playing the piano so I would be convinced that they would be ready to try something else. And they can do this whenever and as early as they want. It’s a standing offer.

While J.L.L. carefully explained that it is important to require kids to do things much like he was required to do thing in Basic Training, he seems to not see that his standing offer to buy a new instrument and pay for lessons if a certain goal of piano proficiency is reached may in fact inspire his kids to play the piano better because of the potential reward.  It is an example in his own home life of how he seeks to inspire or encourage his kids to play the piano without requiring a certain level of skill.

Also, J.L.L. looks to God as an example of requiring things of us so that we should then also require things of our kids.  Under the heading “3. Inspire, Not Require”:

All commandments could be seen as requirements. But the Lord’s pattern seems to be to an establish standards and requirements, but not force us to do them, yet we are blessed by complying, We have to work out our own salvation which includes satisfying those requirements and being obedient. It’s up to us, yet the Lord doesn’t leave us alone to figure it out. He provides scriptures and inspiration and revelation, teachers, programs, and leaders. He establishes the requirements, explains them to us, doesn’t force us to comply, and provides all sorts of help along the way. I think this is a model to emulate when it comes to requiring our children to do things.

It seems from this writing that J.L.L. has failed to see that Thomas Jefferson Education follows this model as well.  Inspire, not Require is just like the example he provides.  It could be re-stated as “Inspire, not Compel” or “Motivate, not Force” or any other number of reiterations of the same concept.

As I mentioned in a prior post, it seems to me that we are using the same language but understand the words to mean something different.  There is a “two sides of the same coin” or Yin and Yang quality to J.L.L.’s written conceptualization of just what exactly “Inspire, not Require” means.  It also seems that J.L.L. is not seeing the other side of the coin or the yang.

There are many other nit-picky sorts of things I could write about the post as there are many assertions, leaps of logic, and unfounded statements from J.L.L about how he thinks the Seven Keys of Great Teaching are not the Seven Keys of Great Teaching because he said so.

As a final note, J.L.L. does not seem to appreciate context of writing and purposeful writing.  He takes Oliver Demille to task for failing to “prove” his claims.  The book was written as a primer, as a summation or explanation of research and methodology, not as a scholarly work to document some fantastic or crazy claims.  Some books that make controversial claims have several hundred pages of end notes at the end of them because the book was written for the express purpose prove a certain claim.  Like maybe FDR planned and implemented a proposal to provoke Japan into attacking the United States to bring our country into World War II.  The Thomas Jefferson Education books were not written to prove something, but to explain something.  If you do not find Oliver Demille to be credible, that is fine and that is your decision. The book was not written to “prove” anything.

J.L.L also gives one last parting shot in the post with this ridiculous bombshell of logic and reasoning: “I am not arguing with history when I challenge the Seven Keys. History agrees with me.”  This is simply stated without any supporting documentation or citation to any kind of historical research or authority.  This claim falls prey to the very problem J.L.L. places on Oliver Demille.  Unfounded assertions are not proof.  Whether you find the author to be credible or not is up to you.

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