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The Link Pays Tribute

by Cyndy Rodgers

Homeschooling today is an ever-growing, popular choice for families in the United States. Like most of the freedoms we Americans enjoy, the choice to homeschool exists because “someone” asked the questions, fought the battles and made the sacrifices necessary to preserve our ways. It is in this article we pay tribute to some of these “someones.”

When looking at the history of homeschooling, the work of John Holt played a significant part in its 1960’s evolution. Although he passed away in 1985 his publication Growing Without Schooling continued to promote his ideas and work. This June marked the end of that publication. Because of its significance we take a moment to thank Patrick Farenga and his dedicated staff for twenty-five years of service.

In the recent past, the homeschool community also lost two wonderful human beings: Modern-day pioneer in the field of homeschooling, Dorothy Nelson Moore co-founder of The Moore Foundation; and artist, teacher, and co-owner of Visual Manna, Richard Jeffus. These individuals’ lives were dedicated to creating an environment where families could educate their children in a gentler and more enriching environment. Their contributions merit gratitude from us all.

Growing Without Schooling
The exact origin of present-day homeschooling may be in debate, but most would say the seeds were being planted in the 1960s and ‘70s by educational reformers, authors and parents, who questioned both the methods and results of public education. Noteworthy among them was John Holt (1923-1985).

Holt was the author of ten books about education, including the classic How Children Fail. Holt was a teacher in alternative schools in Boston, Mass, who attacked the lack of humanity inflicted upon school children. In his opinion, school was a place that shaped obedient but characterless citizens.

He eventually gave up his original vision of school reform as hopeless and began advocating instead no school for youngsters. He is quoted a saying “I have come to understand, finally, and even to accept, that in almost everything I believe and care about, I am a member of a minority in my own country, in most cases a very small minority. This is certainly true of all my ideas about children and education . . . we who do not believe in compulsory schooling, who believe that children want to learn about the world, are good at it, and can be trusted to do it, without much adult coercion or interference.”

In 1977, Holt began promoting the benefits of educating children at home in his publication, Growing Without Schooling, a newsletter-style magazine that was the first homeschooling publication.

He stated his goal in the first issue as follows. “This is the first issue of a newsletter, about ways in which people, young and old, can learn and do things, acquire skills, and find interesting and useful work, without having to go through the process of schooling . . . Mostly, it will be about people who want to take or keep their children out of school, and about what they might do instead.”

Holt allowed GWS readers to enter a dialogue. He said “What is important is not that all readers of GWS should agree… but that we should respect our differences while we work for what we agree on, our right and the right of all people to take their children out of schools and help, plan, or direct their learning in the ways they think best.”

Holt gave a voice to home school families. This vision to hear the voices of homeschoolers grew to keep GWS alive, although the publication struggled financially.

When Holt established GWS, he wanted it to be supported entirely by subscriptions, not by advertising, foundations, universities, or government grants, all of which he viewed as unreliable. He told readers “We will do our best to print as much useful material as possible at the lowest possible cost.”

Upon his death in 1985, Holt’s friend and colleague Patrick Farenga took over as editor of GWS. Holt left most of his estate to Holt Associates to help keep the publication going. Seventeen years later Farenga and staff have decided to cease publication. They explain on the GWS web site:

"In the 16 years since then, Holt Associates has published GWS continuously and carried on John Holt's work in all sorts of ways. But alongside those joys and creative challenges, financial worries have been constant and troubling companions. While thinking up features for the next issue or brainstorming ways to spread our message or planning the next book or conference project, we have continually struggled to pay the bills, to make ends meet. Keeping Holt Associates afloat financially has been a tough job for as long as any of us have been involved with it. The situation has now reached a point where it is no longer financially viable. Although for years we were able to use John Holt's estate money to make up our losses, that well has run dry and it is clear that we cannot continue to operate at a significant loss every year.”

Thankfully because of people like Holt, Farenga, and the staff of GWS Magazine, the debate about whether to homeschool has evolved increasingly to how to homeschool.

Dorothy Moore

Back in 1969, Holt was not alone in raising questions about the school system. During that same time, Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore were busy conducting and collecting early childhood education research. Their work also changed the landscape of education.

Dorothy Nelson Moore, teacher, author, researcher and homeschooling advocate, passed away February 21, 2002, at the age of 86.

Born in Bruce, South Dakota on October 30, 1915, she grew up on a dairy farm in California. Moore attended college in Long Beach, California eventually graduating from Pacific Union College. She spent many years in public service in the California schools as a Remedial Reading specialist and as the wife of a University of Southern California professor.

Married for 63 years to Dr. Raymond Moore, a former U.S. Department of Education employee, together they laid the groundwork that would legitimize homeschooling in the 1960’s.

It was in 1960 that Dorothy Moore was founding director of the Cerebral Palsy Clinic in Loma Linda, CA. A year later she and her husband established the Moore Foundation; an organization that encourages parents to delay formal education until at least age 10 or 12.

She and her husband conducted research as well as reviewed thousand of other studies on the effects on children of traditional schooling. Moore’s lectures on their findings sparked a debate about public education. This investigation into formal learning and socialization led to national media appearances, legislative and courtroom testimony and speeches stimulating a renewed interest in homeschooling. They went on to publish thirteen books including “Home Grown Kids” and “Home Spun Schools.”

When asked about their beginnings, Moore’s husband says, “She believed children were put into school much too early, I started researching this, and the initial program was started by Dorothy. The next thing we had a major movement.”

In 1983, the Moores’ Academy was established. Dorothy headed a team of counselors that assisted families in educating their children at home. Her philosophy was to develop an individualized curriculum that is based on a child’s interests, aptitudes and abilities. This formula formed the basis for the Malachi Movement for family togetherness and work-study-service balance in school. The Moores’ Academy continues on today, serving hundreds of families yearly.

Moore leaves behind a son, Dennis and a daughter, Kathleen, and three grandchildren. To learn more about their work, visit the Moore Foundation website: www.moorefoundation.com.

Moore and Holt delivered the message that homeschooling is good for children, to an often skeptical and critical audience. Their work helped make a once-underground segment of education into a viable alternative that is a recognized legal practice in all 50 states. Their diligent efforts are now their legacies; an estimated 1 million children across the nation learn at home by their parent’s side.

Richard Jeffus

This tribute also wants to honor the contributions of Richard Jeffus, owner of Visual Manna Art Study who was killed March 28th when the truck he was repairing slipped off its supports and fell on him. Although only 40 years old, he made a significant contribution to the homeschool community, as well as to the non-homeschool world of Salem, Missouri, where he made his home.

Richard Jeffus loved art, and his mission in life was to pass that love on to the children of the world. He was also a very devout Christian. He spent his life finding ways to combine his faith and his art by doing, teaching and promoting Christian art.

Jeffus was a family man, too. Sharon, his wife of 22 years, is an artist as well, whom he met at a Bible study. Together they made the decision to homeschool their future children.

Richard’s son, Jonathan, in his memoriam to his father states, “In so many funeral addresses the automatic response is to praise how the person was always thinking of others, and how they lived their lives to be like Christ. But in Dad's case there is no need to actually say this, because everyone who has ever met him already knows it. He showed a love and interest in everyone; something that was intangible and more precious than anything on this earth. He was a man that utterly realized Christ in that "whoever is to be greatest among you will be a servant to all."

Friends describe him as an “untidy teddy bear.” Jeffus attended John Brown University majoring in what he called “Bible and Witchcraft” -- theology and psychology. Originally, he was a licensed minister and family therapist who had spent nine years counseling at a Missouri treatment center. He resigned to be CEO of Visual Manna and to do his Christian artwork.

Visual Manna is a company that addresses the art education needs of the homeschooler. It promotes an art program covering grades 1-12. Visual Manna’s program is laid out to provide homeschoolers with activities that cover a diversity of art mediums and includes some art history and appreciation. The program is designed to also teach math, science, history, geography and more through the eyes of art.

Richard Jeffus, the artist, received accolades for his work. He was known for his life-size dinosaur sculptures and award-winning Christian art. He traveled the nation showing what he termed his “parables in paint.” He illustrated all of Visual Manna's books, as well.

The homeschool community has embraced this program because it is more than a simple technique book. Visual Manna is filled with research material on background culture and history.

On its’ web site, www.visualmanna.com, the Jeffus family states Visual Manna’s philosophy as follows; “We believe each child is imbued by God to be innately creative. It is our goal to bring out that special and precious creativity and individuality in each child that we teach.”

Part of that goal is the Visual Manna Camp Ministries. Now in its third year, VM’s Christian day camp offers visual art classes as well as Music, Drama and Speech/Debate to families. Before Jeffus’ demise, he was working on developing a scholarship fund to allow more children to attend the camp. In his memory, the family is establishing a non-profit art camp that will travel nationwide.

“Richard wanted to encourage all the arts,” says Sharon. “We have classes in film making, special effects, songwriting…we are creating something that will travel nationwide to provide affordable art education for all homeschoolers taught by people with heart and love and an understanding of the homeschool movement.”

The family is determined to keep alive Richard Jeffus’ love of art and his commitment to homeschool kids through these camps. They have asked that anyone who wishes, to please send donations to the Visual Manna Camp Ministries, POB 553, Salem. Missouri, 65560.

Copyright © 2006 Modern Media