- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2007

Home-schooling parents may not always see the long-term results of what they are working so hard to do. To get some perspective on why it is important to devote the time and make the sacrifices necessary, I have been researching some educators of the past.

In the 1500s, when former soldier Ignatius Loyola underwent a radical transformation of heart through the teachings of Jesus, he forged a new Society of Jesus, which became known as the Jesuits. Putting priority on education and reaching distant lands with the Gospel, early Jesuits such as Francis Xavier traveled to India, Japan and China, and in addition to teaching the Gospel, they developed schools for young people.

Following Jesus’ admonition “Freely ye have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8), the Jesuits made it a policy not to charge for the education they provided and to accept students regardless of financial status.

In India, these students not only were taught, but were taught to teach others, both youths and elders. Education was seen as a threefold benefit: educating the self, educating the teachers and missionaries, and educating the youth. Ignatius understood that children grow up to be adults and that investing in the young would affect the future of a society.

In 1440, King Henry VI initiated a religious school with 25 poor boys, known as King’s College of Our Lady of Eton Beside Windsor, or Eton. Excellent education in the classics became a foundation for the development and expansion of England.

In 1572, a rich farmer, John Lyon, endowed another institution, Harrow School, and these schools were reputed to produce the leaders of what became the British Empire, including seven British prime ministers and one of India.

In 1876, a Massachusetts educator, William Smith Clark, traveled to Hokkaido, Japan, and founded the Sapporo Agricultural College, which later became Hokkaido University. His ringing admonition to the students, “Boys, be ambitious,” has become part of the lexicon of all Japanese people even though the end of the phrase, “for Christ,” usually is ignored.

Clark deliberately injected his Christian faith into his educational approach and is credited with developing an appreciation in Japan for Christianity, which had suffered from widespread persecution of believers after the initial success of Francis Xavier’s outreach three centuries earlier.

What fascinates me is that these visionaries all understood that neither royal power, financial success nor religious belief could surpass the power of education. Without planting and cultivating learning in the next generation, the accomplishments of the present generation are nullified.

The movement to educate within the family rather than through an external institution may have come into public parlance as “home-schooling” just in recent decades. However, in most enduring cultures, parents always have instructed their children, and elders of a family passed along the legacy of knowledge accumulated through their lifetimes.

Education enables the integration of belief with the development of skills. Many people learned to read through the scriptures of their society and to sing through the sacred music of their faith. Family-based education creates a natural framework for information to be shared and for it to be implemented in a very natural and practical way.

We home-schooling parents may not always be able to see how our efforts will bear fruit. Our vision of the future may extend only to ensuring that our children will be good and productive adults and citizens.

If the lessons of the past are any indication, there is a strong likelihood that the children in whom we are investing today may be those who move the entire world tomorrow.

Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three, is a freelance writer who lives in Maryland.