Sonja Jay I would love it if you wouldn’t mind sharing with us a little bit more about your personal testimony, a little bit more about how you became interested in home education. How it happened in your life ?
Dr Jay Well when I became interested in home education it wasn’t because I had children to educate. At that time my wife and I had no children, we were both focussed on our careers, were both focused on our church and so forth and we weren’t all that worried about having children. I started being a professor at Ball State University, which is the large State University in Indiana where I am from and I started encountering these students that were noticeably different from the rest. Mostly they were significantly better at chemistry and physics than their fellow students, but also they seemed to have a better attitude about what they were in school for. They weren’t as party oriented as their peers.
Sonja Sorry to interject, but for the sake for the South Africans, the school you are referring to is University.
Dr Jay Yeah, what they were in university for, was not the party, but was to develop their talents so they can do something important for the Lord. So I noticed these students are just head and shoulders above the rest, and I distinctly remember the one student who told me he was homeschooled. He was in my office and we were talking about something about chemistry that was pretty deep. I was impressed that a freshman at University, a first year student at University really could converse about chemistry on that level.
I said you must’ve had a really great chemistry course at school, where did you go to school? And he said at home. I had no idea what that meant, I thought maybe….so that I actually asked “ So your parents brought in a tutor or something?” And he said :- “No my mom helped me, I used books and so forth and learnt.”
I really didn’t understand that, you know you have other things to worry about, so I sort of filed that away under the heading of “Something I’ll look into when I have a little bit of time.” Because I found it fascinating that I had no idea how important it was. So as I started continuing to be a professor Ball State, I ran into two other students who were the same way. Head and shoulders of everyone else and both of them said they went to school at home as well.
At that point I decided, I had because look into this, here are what I would consider probably my top three students at University, all say they were taught at home and I knew nothing about that. So the way I decided to look into that is a bit different from how a normal person look into it. Most normal people, if they want to learn about homeschooling… what do they do? They go to a homeschooler and say : “So what do you do?” But instead as a professor, what I was interested in is, had homeschooling been studied?
So I went to the academic literature and looked at studies on home education and even, and this is in the early 90s, even at that stage there were plenty of studies about home education in the academic literature. They all essentially agreed that yes, these students make better university students, than students who come from public or private school.I was really quite shocked that the academic literature was so consistent with my experience.
So I decided that I wanted to get involved with home education, on some level. So I just looked in the phone book and there was an entry for the Indiana Association of Home Educators, and so I thought maybe I should call these people. So I called them and said I’m a professor at Ball State University, I’ve had some excellent home educated students here, I just wanted to know, would you be interested in me talking to people about how to apply the University, and you know how homeschoolers can get a better chance of getting in the University and so forth.
They were happy to have me do that. So I started speaking a different home education organisation and so forth and trying to teach parents how to properly fill out a university application. How to accentuate the things on their application, that the University would like, and so forth. Pretty quickly they decided, since I was a science the professor, I should write a science curriculum. Actually what they wanted me to do in the first place was to teach a science Co-op. Even at that stage I said “No, that’s not what homeschooling is about, I don’t know much about homeschooling but I do know that is not what it is about.”
So I said rather than teaching this cooperative class where they come to me once a week, let me just write you a course and I’ll send it to you chapter by chapter. So that’s how I started writing for homeschoolers. The point is, the reason I got involved in home education to begin with, wasn’t because I had kids of my own. It was because I saw the products, and the products impressed me so much, that I wanted to get involved with it.
Now the interesting twist of the story comes a few years later, after speaking to homeschoolers about University entrance, writing curriculum for homeschoolers, then my wife and I adopted 15-year-old daughter and we had to start homeschooling. Thats when I really learnt what homeschooling was about.
Sonja And that is what you share about, about what you learnt about in home schooling, in one of your talks, at the Expo, so that is available for people to watch more in depth. That’s great, I’m glad that you could share more around behind the scenes, as to how you got onto the education journey.