By Mike Farris, News reprint
History is filled with famous homeschooling kids who have grown up to amazing things. Here are a few examples…
John and Charles Wesley
No account of modern church history would be complete without the stories of John and Charles Wesley. Born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley of Lincolnshire, England, John and Charles were the 15th and 18th of 19 children. Susanna schooled all her children at home, and she didn’t confine their learning to mere academics. Together with her husband, an Anglican pastor, she taught her children the Bible and trained them to serve God.
Susanna’s child rearing was put to the test when John left home to pursue higher learning at Oxford. Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1728, John began a ministry of open-air preaching.
John Wesley traveled over 250,000 miles in his lifetime, spreading the Gospel. With a strong emphasis on good works, the Wesleys founded clinics for the sick, and orphanages and schools for the poor. Ultimately, they were a part of the Great Awakening, which swept the English-speaking world and saw hundreds of thousands being saved.
Mothers and fathers of large families, take heart. Among your children there may be a John or Charles Wesley, who, with a godly upbringing, can dramatically impact the world for Christ.
Ansel Adams, born in 1902, was an extremely active, creative child. When he was placed in traditional school, that active nature led to trouble almost from the beginning. He simply could not sit in the classroom when there was an outdoors to explore.
After Ansel’s expulsion from various schools, both public and private, his father decided to teach his son himself. One year, his school consisted of a year’s pass to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, where he took in art, architecture, music, and other achievements of civilization.
The world remembers Ansel Adams for giving us the most dramatic landscape photographs of the century. In his autobiography, Adams says: “I often wonder at the strength and courage my father had in taking me out of the traditional school situation and providing me with these extraordinary learning experiences. I am certain he established the positive direction of my life that otherwise, given my native hyperactivity, could have been confused and catastrophic. I trace who I am and the direction of my development to those years of growing up in our house on the dunes, propelled especially by an internal spark tenderly kept alive and glowing by my father.”
Parents know their children better than any teacher ever could.
In 1847, a seventh child was born to Samuel and Nancy Elliot Edison. Thomas Alva was a mischievous and inquisitive child. His parents placed him in formal school at age seven, but his active, creative nature was stifled in a rigid educational setting.
Nancy Edison, a former schoolteacher, trained her youngest son in the basics and fostered his creative, inquisitive nature. As one Edison biographer put it, “She was determined that no formalism would cramp his style, no fetters hobble in the free rein, the full sweep of his imagination.” Edison himself said of his mother, “She instilled in me the love and purpose of learning.”
The results of Thomas Edison’s love for learning are legendary. After beginning work as a telegraph operator in 1863, Edison invented improvements to the telegraph. He went on to improve fire alarm systems, stock tickers, and the telephone transmitter, and to invent, among other things, the phonograph and the incandescent light bulb.
Thomas Edison obtained the most U.S. patents ever given to one person, and ranks as one of the greatest inventors and industrial leaders in history. He also serves as just one more example of the power of parent-directed education.
Pearl S. Buck grew up on the mission field in China, and became a famous American author and winner of the 1932 Pulitzer Prize. A lively, precocious child, she pestered her mother with countless questions. Pearl’s mother, realizing that her daughter needed a creative outlet, began her education at home. She especially focused on Pearl’s skill for writing, and encouraged her to write something every week. At the age of six, Pearl began writing for missionary magazines. Her writing was also published regularly by the Shanghai Mercury, an English newspaper that offered prizes for the best stories and articles written by children.
It was not surprising when Pearl decided as a young adult to become a novelist. She went on to write more than 65 books, plus hundreds of short stories and essays.
She is best known for her books dealing sympathetically with life in China, including her widely acclaimed novel, The Good Earth. In 1938, Pearl S. Buck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Although Pearl received her later education at various schools, her most significant years of academic training were spent at home. It was her mother who recognized her flair for writing and fostered her creative development.
On May 12, 1820, a baby girl was born in Florence, Italy, to wealthy British parents. Named for the city in which she was born, Florence Nightingale was brought up to be an intelligent woman of good society. Both her mother and her father contributed to her academic and social training. While Mrs. Nightingale instructed Florence and her sister in social graces and the skill of running a large household, the girls’ father taught them English grammar, history, philosophy, Latin, French, Greek, German, and Italian. Florence also received Biblical training from her parents, learning to read the New Testament in its original Greek.
When she was 16, Florence heard God’s call to a special life work: easing the suffering of the sick and dying. She began withdrawing from society life to concentrate on studying health and reforms for the poor.
Florence Nightingale did much to introduce sanitary nursing methods to the whole world, especially to the battlefield. Among her many public honors, she became the first woman to receive the British Order of Merit.
Florence Nightingale and the others I mention above are just a few examples of fertile minds and pioneer spirits developed by home schooling. We have yet to see how today’s home schooled children will change the world.