The Precious Advantage of a Tutor in Home Education | Notes from the Letters of James Adams, Part 1

The Advantage of a Tutor

This multi-part series reflects on some of the ideas, insights into the time period, and beliefs about education and the world found in the letters John Adams.

The Education of John Quincy Adams

In this letter (full letter below), John Adams is writing to his son about his education, its importance, and the subjects that should be the focus of his attention, which were “Your exercises in Latin and Greek” which “must not be omitted a single day…”. He also encourages him to plod steadily, staying that “a regular distribution of your time is of great importance.”

The Precious Advantage of a Tutor

Adams was very personally invested in his son’s education and upbringing, and in this letter and others references his library, pointing his son to particular books or resources. But this letter makes a special reference to a tutor, who was a special ally in the home education of his son.

“The Advantage you have in Mr. Dumas’s Attention to you is a very prescious one. He is himself a Walking Library, and so great a Master of Languages ancient and modern is very rarely Seen. The Art of asking Questions is the most essential to one who wants to learn. Never be too wise to ask a Question.”

A trusted, learned tutor is a precious asset to parents and their children in home education.

Modern Christian Homeschooling and Tutors

Modern Christian parents often lean in one of two directions. One direction is to recognize the need for help in specialized subjects, and the parents therefore send their children to a traditional or online school where they have little or no say over who teaches their children, what curriculum is used, or even the pedagogy or approach (apart from choosing the institution as a whole). The other direction is for parents to not take advantage of outside instructors at all, relying solely on their own expertise. This can have mixed results based on the parents, their education, and the learning style of the children. Especially with the aid of good curriculum, this can work well for most subjects and ages. But even John Adams, thoroughly educated and trained in the classics, and heavily involved in his children’s education alongside his wife Abigail (many of his letters reference their homeschooling) called the relationship his son had with his tutor a precious advantage.

Kepler Education and Choosing Teachers over Institutions

The mission of Kepler Education is to democratize a personalized tutor-style relationship between teachers and families. Kepler is the only classical Christian platform where parents can choose teachers who are free to teach the curriculum and style they desire, thus allowing parents to directly choose the style that best fits their own family. In other words, at Kepler you don’t choose the institution. Rather, the institution (Kepler) exists to facilitate relationships between teachers and families. Choose a class (small classes capped at 12), or commission a class. But always with a “choose your teacher” first approach.

Kepler allows parents to give their children the precious advantage of a “Mr. Dumas.”


John Adams: To his Son on his Education (Full Letter)

Paris May 14. 1783

My dear Child

Mr. Hardouin has just now called upon me, and delivered me your Letter of the 6 Instant.

I find that, although, your hand Writing is distinct and legible, yet it has not engaged So much of your Attention as to be remarkably neat.1 I Should advise you to be very carefull of it: never to write in a hurry, and never to let a Slovenly Word or Letter go from you. If one begins at your Age, it is easier to learn to write well than ill, both in Characters and Style. There are not two prettier accomplishments than a handsome hand and Style, and these are only to be acquired in youth. I have Suffered much, through my whole Life, from a Negligence of these Things in my young days, and I wish you to know it. Your hand and Style, are clear enough to Shew that you may easily make them manly and beautifull, and when a habit is got, all is easy.

I See your Travells have been expensive, as I expected they would be: but I hope your Improvements have been worth the Money. Have you kept a regular Journal?2 If you have not, you will be likely to forget most of the Observations you have made. If you have omitted this Usefull Exercise, let me advise you to recommence it, immediately. Let it be your Amusement, to minute every day, whatever you may have seen or heard worth Notice. One contracts a Fondness of Writing by Use. We learn to write readily, and what is of more importance We think, and improve our Judgments, by committing our Thoughts to Paper.

Your Exercises in Latin and Greek must not be omitted a Single day, and you should turn your Mind, a little to Mathematicks. There is among my Books a Fennings Algebra. Begin it immediately and go through it, by a Small Portion every day. You will find it as entertaining as an Arabean Tale. The Vulgar Fractions with which it begins, is the best extant, and you should make yourself quite familiar with it.

A regular Distribution of your Time, is of great Importance. You must measure out your Hours, for Study, Meals, Amusements, Exercise and Sleep, and suffer nothing to divert you, at least from those devoted to study.

But above all Things, my son, take Care of your Behaviour and preserve the Character you have acquired, for Prudence and Solidity. Remember your tender Years and treat all the World with Modesty, Decency and Respect.

The Advantage you have in Mr. Dumas’s Attention to you is a very prescious one. He is himself a Walking Library, and so great a Master of Languages ancient and modern is very rarely Seen. The Art of asking Questions is the most essential to one who wants to learn. Never be too wise to ask a Question.

Be as frugal as possible, in your Expences.
Write to your Mamma Sister and Brothers, as often as you have opportunity. It will be a Grief to me to loose a Spring Passage home, but although I have my fears I dont yet despair.

Every Body gives me a very flattering Character of your Sister, and I am well pleased with what I hear of you: The principal Satisfaction I can expect in Life, in future will be in your good Behaviour and that of my other Children. My Hopes from all of you are very agreable. God grant, I may not be dissappointed.

Your affectionate Father
John Adams

The Very Strongest Bodies Commenced with Milk

“We are giving small instructions, while professing to educate an orator. But even studies have their infancy, and as the rearing of the very strongest bodies commenced with milk and the cradle, so he, who was to be the most eloquent of men, once uttered cries, tried to speak at first with a stuttering voice, and hesitated at the shapes of the letters. Nor, if it is impossible to learn a thing completely, is it therefore unnecessary to learn it at all.”

– Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory

Learn about Quintilian in Old Western Culture: The Romans

Limited Government

Why did the Founders want limited government? Because they read their history, and very particularly the Roman historians.

“Not equally moderate was his brother, surnamed Felix, who had for some time been governor of Judaea, and thought that he could do any evil act with impunity, backed up as he was by such power.”

– Tacitus, The Annals

Learn about Tacitus in Old Western Culture: The Romans

Those things which tend to Effeminate the Mind

“Of all these, the Belgae are the bravest, because they are furthest from the civilization and refinement of our Province, and merchants least frequently resort to them, and import those things which tend to effeminate the mind.”

– Julius Caesar, The Gallic Wars.

Learn about Julius Caesar in Old Western Culture: The Romans

2020 Election Idaho District 5 Conservative Voting Guide

Each election for the past 12 years or so I have published my voting guide.

Here is the 2020 Election Idaho District 5 Conservative Voting Guide.

NOTE: I have received mixed feedback about Judge Marshall, all from people I trust. I put this in the “unsure” category, but decided to vote “no” myself (contrary the linked guide which I can’t update since it’s a Mailchimp email). I will do more research on the judicial side for the next guide.

Want to receive these by email? Subscribe here.

Introducing Kepler Education

I am very excited to announce the launch of Kepler Education, a new initiative of Roman Roads!

Kepler is a consortium of independent teachers unified by a shared vision and innovative Chegg answers free online platform to bring classical Christian education with to junior high and high school students.

What does this mean for you and your kids? A wide choice of instructors and teaching styles (curricula and methods), and fascinating courses options!

With course offerings ranging from Algebra 2 to Monsters as Metaphors, Kepler classes are taught by passionate instructors who have the freedom to teach to their strengths and the subjects they most love.

Does Kepler Replace Roman Roads Classroom?

Roman Roads Classroom and its teachers are now part of Kepler, and you will find many of the same courses and teachers on the new platform, along with dozens of additional instructors and over one hundred course offerings, with new instructors and classes being added every week!

Do you offer full grades?

Yes! You can choose one or two courses à la carte, or a build a Diploma Track, but in both instances, you are choosing the courses and teachers, along with learning styles, curriculum, and schedule to match the specific needs of your family. All this unified on a new platform built for the purpose of streamlining the process from registration to transcript.

Our motto at Kepler is “Empowering families by liberating teachers.” By creating an environment and platform where teachers can craft and offer their own courses, we bring all that choice directly to families.


We are excited about registration, and to celebrate our launch we are giving a $50 Amazon gift card and a Kepler T-shirt to every one of the first 50 families that register for one or more classes, and shares about it!

50-50 Giveaway Details:

  1. Register for at least one 2020-21 Kepler class
  2. Share a link to that class on Facebook and tag our page (Kepler Education) so we see your post. (Make sure your post is “Sharing to: Public”)
  3. We will contact you to get your T-shirt size and the info so we can send you your gift-card if you’re among the first 50 families to register.

Kepler Education

Introducing Kepler

Kepler Education is a consortium of independent teachers, united by a vision for classical Christian education and on a single platform.

Learn how this unique approach to online classes offers a tailored education to your family as you go through jr. high and high school with your children.

See our current (and growing) number of class offerings and teachers at https://kepler.education

Christmas Caroling on Friendship Square 2019

I’ve now recorded several years of Christ Church caroling, and this year’s was particularly amazing! Not only did we have an incredible crowd, but there was also a series of booths set up with hot food and drink, ranging from German sausage to French crêpes, cider and hot chocolate, cookies, hot pretzels, and more.

Huguenot Heritage and Roman Roads sponsored one booth, and my father made Nutella Crêpes. We estimate we served around 450!

Below is the highlight video. I didn’t get any photos of the booths because I was too busy making crêpes! If you have some good photos, can you send them to me to include below?

Previous Years:

Moscow City Council Election November 5th

Moscow has a City Council election coming up this November 5th.

NOTE: You can vote early at the Latah County Courthouse Oct. 21 through Nov. 1. Skip the line and vote early! Or Vote Nov. 5th at County Fairgrounds 8am to 8pm.

Please vote, and consider voting for these three pro-family, pro-business conservative candidates for City Council!

Brandon Mitchell, James Urquidez, and Kelsey Berends

  • Who can vote? Anyone living within the Moscow city limits.
  • Can I vote for three? YES! Three open seats, so you can vote for up to three.
  • Where do I vote early? Oct 21 – Nov 1 (early voting) at County Courthouse during normal hours.
  • Where do I vote on November 5th? Latah County Fairgrounds or Hamilton Lowe Center (Assume Fairgrounds if you have not received a mailer about new polling location). Polls are open from 8am to 8pm.

About the Candidates

BRANDON MITCHELL moved to Moscow in 2013, and his family was well accepted into the community. Since then, he has been grateful to call Moscow his home. Brandon is a small business owner and looks forward to helping other local businesses prosper, hearing opinions from Moscow’s citizens, and working together with them to grow as a city.

JAMES URQUIDEZ, a local small business owner, will bring wisdom from a life well lived to the city council. He serves in the county jail as a chaplain and has worked to help restore felons and drug addicts. James believes this type of interaction will help bring balance in representing our community at the city level. James wants to maintain a family-friendly, business-friendly environment and to maintain excellent infrastructure while seeking to keep our taxes low.

KELSEY BERENDS serves as the human resource and talent acquisition manager at a local economics firm, where she has worked to hire more than 120 people, promoting Moscow as a great community for them and their families. As a member of the city council, Kelsey will focus on fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and gainful employment for family prosperity to help Moscow thrive.

Anderson Family Construction

I wrote the following review of Anderson Family Construction for Houzz.

Anderson Family Construction built our home on acreage near Moscow, Idaho in 2018, and we are absolutely thrilled! We have a growing family, and really wanted a place that would incorporate a lot of very busy life. They modified the design to fit our family, incorporating some special features that were specific to us, including a foundation stone that has sentimental value to us, a butcher-block counter that used to be part of our family restaurant, and gorgeous built-in floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the large study, as I often work from home and own several thousand books.

I was warned several times by friends who had built their homes that “building your own home is very stressful.” The building process was the one element of this whole move that really wasn’t stressful to us, and I think that is because of a very key ingredient that is somewhat rare in the homebuilding and construction industry: trust. It’s not that there were zero bumps (though there were very few), but we had full confidence that AFC was made up of owners and employees of integrity. We had much of this confidence going in because we knew several of the crew, and they did not disappoint. The builders (from the earth movers, to the framers, to the drywallers, to the woodworkers) had obvious pride in a job well done. We weren’t dealing with time-punchers, but a guild of craftsmen who delighted in solving problems and making beautiful results.

AFC kept to the budget, did most of the build in 4 months, and most of all gave us a very high-quality, high-efficiency, cozy, elegant home.

We like to say it is a “new home with an old soul,” combining 21st-century latest in building technology with a classic, “farmhouse” design we love so much. The foundation was poured using the innovative FoxBlocks, and the siding is LP Smartside. Combined with the high efficiency 33 SEER Mitsubishi HVAC for our heating and cooling, we have an energy efficient home with very reasonable utility bills as a result (tracked with Sense and SensorPush).

I highly recommend AFC for any construction or remodel work, but particularly recommend their semi-custom, affordable yet gorgeous, high-quality home building.

I would happily give more details about our home and build process to anyone interested in using AFC – contact me through foucachon.com. #AFCBuilt

See more photos, including photos and videos of construction, as well the incredible view, at Foucachon Farmhouse facebook page.

A few construction videos:

Snow, snow, snow!

I have thoroughly enjoyed our snowfall these last few weeks! Thanks to the drone, in spite of battling a bad chest cold this last week I was able to enjoy the outdoors, flying from inside the house, and getting photos from all around the property. I’ve been posting regularly on the Foucachon Farmhouse FB Page and my Instagram. Enjoy some of the highlight videos below! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel here

This wide-screen 4k video is worth watching in full screen!

Lucien Foucachon

Five years ago today, my grandfather, Lucien Foucachon, was gathered to his people. He loved to write poetry and wrote the poem below for our wedding in June 2008.

I miss you Papy!

L’Ouest américain les a fait se rencontrer
Et la vie qui parfois sait vous jouer des tours
Sous le ciel d’Idaho, ils se sont bien trouvés
Pour conjuguer ensemble ce que l’on nomme l’amour.

Daniel et Lydia

Edifier un futur c’est là leur avenir
Des coeurs pleins de projets, une période heureuse
Vécue dans l’allégresse, une vie à bâtir
Un chemin de bonheur, une route joyeuse

Daniel et Lydia

Construire une famille sur un modèle ancien
En être héritier, ne pas rompre la ligne
Aspirer à poursuivre pour unique seul bien
Le désire de savoir et d’en demeurer digne

Daniel et Lydia

Chemins riants ou sombres, ils la parcourront
Cette vie de bonheur parfois semée de peines
Mais quelqu’un leur dira qu’il leur fait tenir bon
Quelqu’un qui les chérit et quelqu’un qui les aime

Daniel et Lydia

L’océan nous sépare des êtres qui nous sont chers
Cette lointaine Amérique qui pourtant les enseigne
Voyageurs en recherche, ils sont loin de leurs pères
Consolation pour nous car là-bas la foi règne

Daniel et Lydia

—Lucien Foucachon, June 2008.

Here is an English translation which does not do it justice by a long shot. Some of the poetic turns-of-phrase are very hard to translate. They are beautiful in French!

The American West brought them together
And life, which occasionally throws you curveballs
Under the Idaho sky, they found each other
To come together in what we call love.

Daniel and Lydia

Building a future, that is what’s in store
Hearts full of projects, a happy period
lived in joy, a life to be built
A path of happiness, a road of joy.

Daniel and Lydia

Founding a family on an ancient model
To be an inheritor, to not break the line
Aspiring to pursue as unique only good
The desire of knowing and staying worthy [of that heritage].

Daniel and Lydia

An ocean separates us from those whom we cherish
That faraway America, which, however, teaches them
Voyagers in search, they are far from their fathers
A consolation for us, for over there, the faith reigns.

Daniel and Lydia.

 

Lucien Foucachon, holding up a photo of himself as a young man.