Thomas Jefferson's Academic Village

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Thomas Jefferson desired a campus whose sole purpose was to educate. To achieve this, his plan for the Academic Village included a monumental library to be placed at the head of the lawn. He then wrote out a list of over 7,000 books that he requested fill the library’s shelves for the students to use alongside their lectures. Jefferson’s requests were “revolutionary” because libraries were never a focus in other institutions; instead, churches were given the most recognition. However, there was no church in the original plan for the Academic Village. This may have been because Jefferson did not want to give students the ability to turn to the church as an excuse for not learning and searching for a logical answer. During this time, people …show more content…
“Often he rose at dawn and plunged into books, books, books, until two in the morning.” Jefferson’s fascination and dedication to education did not stop with his own; he took a great deal of responsibility ensuring his children were furthering their knowledge despite his absence. In a letter to his daughter, Patsy, Jefferson outlines a schedule he expected she would follow while he was away from Philadelphia. Her curriculum consisted of dancing, drawing, music, writing, English, and French. These topics were typical of what a female was expected to learn during the late 1700s. It was also a reflection of Jefferson’s love of the French culture and his passion for writing. Jefferson was so dedicated to his daughter’s education that he requested copies of her drawings and writing be included in her letters to him every day. Grammar had always been important to Jefferson, especially after all the writing he’s done, and he had always expressed himself best with the written word. “It produce[d] great praise to a lady to spell well,” therefore, he demanded Patsy “take care that [she] never spell a word wrong…and turn to a dictionary.” Jefferson took great pride in his daughter’s studies, and would later put in the same passion and concern into his …show more content…
The “primary focus” for the University’s curriculum was “scientific knowledge.” Once again, this was a reflection of both the time period and Jefferson as a person. Jefferson was particularly fond of questioning why things happened, and researching to find concreate, technical proof. For example, in his “Notes on Virginia,” Jefferson attempted a scientific explanation to find evidence for Noah’s flood instead of relying on the stories in the Bible. On March 7, 1825, when the University opened its doors, the 68 white, male students were able to choose classes in languages, mathematics, physics, chemistry, natural philosophy, botany, anatomy, government, history, law, and grammar. These classes were taught on, what would be compared to todays, graduate levels and by professors who were experts in their field. Jefferson requested “the only question we could ever ask ourselves as to any candidate, will be, is he the most highly qualified?” Jefferson ended up with eight faculty members when the school started; five came from England and three were from the United States. The teachers not only had the job of educating their students, they were also there to act as “police officers” to ensure the students stayed under control. While Jefferson always believed the students were able to discipline themselves and self-govern in a democratic way,

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