Book Review- The Education of James Madison

Mary-Elaine Swanson in her brilliant analysis of The Education of James Madison, gives a detailed account of not just what Madison was learning but how and why he was learning it. Understanding Madison’s experiences as a student and later an adult scholar shed light not only on American’s governmental form and constitution, but on the educational process itself. When parents and educators today approach the education of their students, this book offers invaluable insights into how education can form the character of an individual and put them on the path to their life’s work.

Principle: “Tyranny can only be prevented by a virtuous people who are also well versed in the nations ‘first principles.'”

Themes: education; home education; self-education; mentoring; leadership; discipline; natural law; conscience; rights; government; law

Read with: A History of the American People; The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin; Common Sense; The Law; Mere Christianity; The Declaration of Independence; Dumbing Us Down; The Closing of the American Mind

Discussion Questions:
1- Cite some differences between education at the time of the American Founding and today. Which of these differences is most important? Why?
2- What role did James Madison’s education play in the development of his character? How did his education do this? How can your education develop your character?
3- How did Madison discover his personal interests? What did he do when he discovered these? How can education aid in self-discovery?


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