- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holidays are a time when people reflect on the meaning of historical events. I often see home-schooling as a way of reseeding our nation with the truer principles and information that are the actual strength of our nation. The ideals that are quaint to most modern educators often are real-life guidelines to home educators.

While the normal classroom teacher may dutifully share the facts of history with her students, the home-schooler often is living them. We study the Pilgrims — departing a safe, but decaying, society and starting fresh in an untamed land — as a model for those who want to live by a higher standard. We study the founding documents of our nation and marvel at how uncommon commoners debunked the idea of the divine right of kings.

We look at the courageous men and women who settled wild territory and carved a living from the land and learn to always be sturdy, to seek opportunity, to work hard. We look at the conflicts of the past and compare them to the conflicts of the present, and note that unrighteous laws are exposed in the end, and that injustice and oppression are never compatible with a healthy society.

We delve more deeply into the records left by the pioneers in every field, and keep alive the teachings left by people of wisdom: Albert Schweitzer, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King. We dare to explore the classics, finding the literature of Greece and Rome, of Europe and Asia, more interesting than the latest vampire love story.

We acquaint our children with the philosophies and theories of the past, if only to prepare them for such trends in the present. We also introduce them to the natural world, the scientific world and the technological world — with direct experience and the chance for personal discovery.

It’s true that doing all this exposes us to criticism, barbed humor and outright lies. We hear home-schoolers described as isolated, imprisoned, archaic; that the children live in fear of parents, of the outside world, of real life — or worse, that we are racists and intolerant of other faiths.

These myths lose power, however, in the face of meeting real home-schooling families. Inquisitive, confident, respectful and creative — these are the descriptions given by those who actually meet and work with home learners.

In history, education and religion were the forces that initiated lasting change in society. When Charlemagne brought Irish monks to reseed the Holy Roman Empire with the knowledge that the Dark Ages had nearly eradicated, it set the stage for great changes in Europe. When the printing press allowed mass production of the Bible, it gave huge numbers of people access to scripture, creating a revolution of belief and spiritual practices that rippled out to change society, government and economy.

I suspect home-schooling represents more than an alternative to the current educational system, but rather, a catalyst for societal reformation. Think about it: Here is a movement that reflects the full diversity of our nation, spanning all backgrounds. Further, because it is a family-based form of education, it has a consistency and an emotional resilience that can’t be replicated in an institution. Can a teacher be hired to love their students beyond their performance in the classroom, from birth to their adulthood, preparing them for their marriages, their parenting, their entire civic and professional lives?

I say this not to give home-schoolers a false sense of importance, but rather, to impart a sense of historic responsibility. To those whom much has been given, much is expected. I would hope home-schoolers seek the opportunities to serve, to care and to live out the lessons they have learned, in order to re-energize the larger society, and to share the gifts we have received with others.

Kate Tsubata is a freelance writer and home-schooler who lives in Maryland.

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