What is DEMOI?

The name DEMOI is plural for the Greek word “Demos” meaning “the common people of a democracy.”

I decided upon this name because I fervently believe that education is a democratic enterprise capable not only of encouraging literacy, self-awareness and mutual understanding but that education is also an exercise in empowerment. I use the word “empowerment” with a specific meaning in mind.

The American philosopher John Dewey wrote that democracy requires a “democratic conception of vocation”: a person’s “work” should be their calling. In a democratic society each student has a right to be educated and to be given the opportunity to choose the work they would like to do. This is not a whimsical matter but goes to the heart of independence and self-responsible authority. Democracy requires vigilant and intelligent citizens who are capable of debating and discussing the pressing issues of the day and holding powerful private and public officials accountable through their own steadfast commitment to literacy, empiricism and intellectual honesty.

I share Dewey’s belief in the importance of a calling which is why I decided to become an independent teacher. I believe in public education but I also am promoting the need for one-on-one and small group Socratic learning. In one-on-one and small seminar sessions I am able to help students shape their own curriculum and pursue a rigorous course (or courses) of study that encourages personal independence and the idea that education is a lifelong objective. I model my pedagogical approach on the Oxford University Tutors who meet regularly with students to discuss what they are reading, to ask them penetrating questions as well as requiring them to write and debate the themes and problems which arise in their studies.

My goal is simple: I want each student to know that education is made for them. I want them to learn how to trust their own judgment, become critical thinkers and learn the dual art of rhetoric and literary expression. I am convinced that by acquiring these skills they will be able to discover and acquire their vocation and use it to better their own lives and the lives of others. Informed citizenship, personal autonomy and meaningful work all begin with independent learning.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Socratic Learning as Democratic Citizenship

Socratic Learning as Democratic Citizenship

When I first am introduced to a new class or begin working one-on-one with a student my initial concern is finding ways of helping him become a self-impelled learner. I believe this is achieved by initiating a conversation with the student about what intrigues him and by asking how he sees himself in relation to his world.

I look to discover two things: how a child learns and what motivates him to learn. I am of the opinion that the best type of curriculum is one that demonstrates flexibility toward student interests and group dynamics. The benefit of using interdisciplinary curricula is in its demonstration that every subject offers insight into the mysteries and problems of the world. I teach literature as a meditation on how human beings confront timeless (and historical) problems and I like to show how the arts often provide the most profound expression of the moral imagination. The Socratic Method’s appeal lies in its encouraging of an interdisciplinary approach to the curriculum by drawing from students their creative, rational and emotional responses.

A Socratic conversation offers students opportunities to test their individual gifts and abilities and indulge their interests and avidities by presenting them with the task of problem solving. I like to emphasize problem solving because I subscribe to John Dewey’s belief that people learn best when captivated by their tasks. If I understand Dewey properly I believe he was saying that education is a form of apprenticeship which trains students to become masters of the craft of their own learning process. I believe in the underlying democratic message of this form of education because it can help students develop confidence in their capacity to grow as learners, cultivate their reason and apply their emotional and moral insights to the pressing social and ecological problems in their communities.

My primary concern as a teacher is to avoid a managerial or hierarchical approach in my teaching. Far too often young people are led to believe that it is their duty to mimic the opinions of their teachers in order to merit high marks. I have seen this happen repeatedly just as I also have witnessed students who have attempted to be creative and original in their response to assignments and have their efforts subjected to withering (and irresponsible) criticism. This seems to me to be a gross injustice because it forecloses a valuable opportunity in the intellectual and emotional development of a young person to begin exploring their cognitive and creative depths. School should be a place where creative experimentation is encouraged and rewarded since it is a studio where students learn the various forms of communication, exposition and inquiry and are encouraged to apply to those forms their newly acquired skills.

In more than thirteen years of teaching I have found no better approach for encouraging creativity, debate and motivation in my students than the Socratic Method. In my personal life as a writer and student of the humanities I am constantly being reminded that writing, research and observation are creative processes that demand self-confidence, imagination, personal reflection and an exacting commitment to probity and integrity. Adolescence is a very delicate time when kids want to be taken seriously and explore their own emerging ideas, doubts and desires for greater independence while also looking to do so from a place of safety. I feel it is my duty to nurture my students by creating an environment where they will be taken seriously and feel that they are learning how to assume ownership of their education. Teachers and schools have been tasked with showing young women and men how to become conscientious contributors to their communities and demonstrating that by helping improve the lives of others they are realizing what their education is really for.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

My Mission Statement

I firmly believe that a high quality education should be available to anyone seeking it. I have launched my business with the intention of offering educational services to young people and adults who are interested in gaining an intensive and engaging education but without having to pay exorbitant fees to achieve it.

I have spent many years in higher education and have been working with undergraduate students for seven years. I have seen over and again how expenses -the high cost of a university education- have forced students to study subjects primarily for their practical value in the job market rather than out of a genuine interest in the subject. Too often students are forced to choose practicality over their desire to become well-read, literate people. This is unfortunate.

While I recognize very well that each and every one of us needs to be employable and acquire basic skills to succeed in the workforce, I do not believe that we should be required to forego the pursuit of our own literacy. It is for this very reason that I have decided to become an independent educator.

I am concerned that students are not being given the opportunity to read extensively and omnivorously; to hone their expository and creative writing skills; and most of all, engage in discussion about what they are reading and thinking about. I believe that discussion is not only essential to acquiring knowledge but that it is good conversation which allows each one of us to gain confidence that we have the ability to ask questions, think critically and speak at length about complex subjects. A great education is about being with people who are deeply committed to learning and about enjoying the opportunity to explore great, timeless questions in a community bound by a spirit of mutuality and friendship. I believe that a great education is imbued with a spirit of civic-mindedness and generosity, thus a well-educated person can become a better neighbour and a good, conscientious citizen.

My personal mission is to provide small class settings and one-on-one tutoring based upon the Socratic method of classroom discussion and participation. I offer two different educational services:

1.) One-on-one tutoring & Directed Readings:

I offer two tutoring options.

A.) Academic coaching designed to help your child improve their understanding of the subject(s) they are having difficulty with. This includes proofreading their writing, discussing reading material, offering study guides, suggesting readings for further comprehension and mapping out studying strategies. I am available to work with students on the basis of their individual needs.

B.) I offer directed readings courses which are designed around the principle, used at Oxford University, that a student should be allowed to read extensively in a subject area they have chosen and meet on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (your choice) with their tutor to discuss in-depth what they are reading. These sessions are modeled on the Socratic question-and-answer format. I arrive at each of our meetings prepared with a series of questions to ask your child and we can cover that list. I also encourage students to come prepared with their own questions. We will settle on a theme for each week’s meetings and prepare to grapple with that theme in our conversation. As our meetings proceed, I will encourage your daughter or son to take the lead in directing our discussions. I offer an essay option whereby your child can write a paper (due at the end of the course) on a topic of their choosing which grapples with the themes and questions we have been covering.

Directed readings courses are organized around a humanities or social sciences subject of your choosing. I am prepared to offer my own courses or consult with you and your child to design a course together.

2.) Home School Teaching:

I have experience teaching the humanities, writing & grammar to students in grades 7-12. I also have taught political science and history to undergraduate students. I am an experienced classroom and seminar teacher and I am prepared to offer courses in the following fields:

English & English language literature
History: Canadian, American, Modern European & Environmental
Writing: Creative & Expository
Social Studies: Government & Civics

I also have experience studying political science and political philosophy and would be interested in providing courses in these fields upon request.

I am looking to teach small groups of students in programmes designed to meet the academic needs of the home schooling community. Before a class begins I will consult with parents about the curriculum they are following and present to them my course outline which will include subjects to be covered, recommended readings and assignment schedules.

My classes combine lectures and in-class assignments with weekly seminars designed to give students the opportunity to learn how to participate in, prepare for, and lead classroom seminars. Classes are designed in 50 minute blocks with 90 minute sessions reserved for the seminars. My primary goal is to make sure that each student feels that she is able to take charge of her own learning process and not become a passive participant. I emphasize a classroom setting that is polite, respectful and open to the free exchange of ideas. At the beginning of the course I will provide a code of conduct for classroom participation and how we will conduct successful discussions.

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My goal is to provide a high quality education to adults and children that is both affordable and rigorous. I am passionate about teaching and I am excited about the opportunity to work with students and their parents to construct courses and programmes of instruction that allow for the exploration of subjects and literatures not normally available outside of a university setting.

-Jeremy Marks