The mission of the Jefferson’s Scholars Program is to allow students who have achieved mastery of the regular curriculum to further deepen their understanding of the world, themselves, and others in order to challenge unexamined opinion, to contemplate the nature of things and the results of human endeavors, and to enable them to make reasoned choices in public and private life.
Through the reading of excellent literature, the program seeks to optimize learning outcomes through analytical reading, critical thinking, and rhetorical and writing skills. The basis of the program is an understanding that the reading of time-tested and challenging texts, under the guidance of an insightful and engaged teacher, is the most challenging and successful way to equip a student’s mind to explore fundamental questions which face humanity.
The history of human thought provides students with the different perspectives of other societies for considering how our own society views history, social relationships, law, money, class, race, the exercise of power, identity, language, among other things. With these books as a basis, students will be best equipped to join the “great conversation” of the centuries, which has taken place through the works of artists, authors, scientists, politicians, and philosophers.
Through the development of these mental capacities, the Jefferson’s Scholars Program seeks to prepare students who are committed to further adding to their education to seek truth, beauty, and goodness, thus enriching both their own lives and the lives of those around them.
Understanding beyond the pages
Choice of Literature
All the books on the list are carefully chosen based upon the same factors used to choose our primary reading list. As with our primary reading list, they are age-appropriate; therefore, at the elementary level, while the books are time-tested and intellectually challenging, they do not overtly grapple with great questions of mankind. Instead, you will find books that grab both the imagination and the intellect: fables, fairy tales, poetry, mysteries, science fiction, and adventures. These are the preparation needed to allow the mind to move agilely through the profound and multi-layered demands placed upon it by the greatest thinkers of all time.
The curriculum of Jefferson’s Scholars is designed to be both engaging and challenging. While it demands time and effort, it allows a student to see more in themselves and in the world – and offer the opportunity to powerfully impact and change both for the better.
Jefferson’s Scholars groups are organized by grade level and subject area (i.e. language or science). Groups will meet every other week during students’ lunch period to discuss and analyze texts. Ten books will be assigned each year for the literature track, and ten books will be assigned each year for the science track. Science and literature weeks alternate, allowing a student to participate in both if needed. A student who signs a contract for both tracks will be responsible for reading all 20 assigned books. If a student does not keep up with the assigned reading, the student will be dropped from the program.