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Doug Phillips, the founder and director of Vision Forum, is a passionate communicator with a heart for home education and the restoration of Christian family and culture to the glory of God. As a constitutional attorney, Doug served six years at Home School Legal Defense Association and as director for the National Center for Home Education. Doug and his wife, Beall, have eight children. They live in San Antonio, Texas.

 

CBD: As a husband, father of eight children, former attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, and now president of Vision Forum, you have been involved in home education for some time. What factors led you and your wife to homeschool?

DP: The most important human influence on my life was my father. Perhaps because of my family’s Jewish heritage or perhaps because of his unique character, I grew up under the mentorship of a dad who practiced Hebraic discipleship in the spirit of Deuteronomy 6. He modeled a “walk beside, talk beside” approach to training which won my heart and instructed my mind. Life was a constant homeschool program. Although I went to government school and private Christian school at different times of my life, by far the greatest influence on me was the training I received directly from my father. Dinnertime was gloriously lengthy and filled with quizzes, book reviews, philosophical discussions, and readings of the Word of God. I traveled extensively with my father and mother and always felt intimately connected with their mission and life work. When Beall and I were married, we were persuaded first by the Word of God and second by the wonderful experience lived and observed in others through home education that there could be no other option for us. I am pleased to report that after 14 years of training our own children, we could not be happier with this God-blessed approach to education.

As an aside, I should mention that my mother was 47 years old when she had her last child. More than two decades my junior, my younger brother Samuel completed his home education just a few years ago. Also, my father actively assists my sister in the home education of her children. Once a week he teaches them history, the Constitution, economics, civics, current events, and family history. My sister puts it this way: “My dad believes in leaving an inheritance to his children’s children, and part of this inheritance is personal instruction in family history.”

CBD: Your personal passion for history is certainly reflected in Vision Forum’s superb selection of resources. What influences in your life sparked such intense interest?

DP: From my personal perspective, every academic discipline ultimately falls into one of two categories: theology or history. Theology is the study of the character and attributes of God. History is the providential structure and working of God’s plan through time and eternity in the cosmos. Traditional academic disciplines such as mathematics, composition, and science all take place and find meaning within the context of a historical event called Creation and God’s continuing, unfolding plan through history. So that’s my motivation. But my passion for history was cultivated through constant exposure to historical literature and visits throughout the United States to places of historic importance. My parents were constantly taking me on history tours and offering exciting opportunities for me to interface with the past.

 

CBD: In postmodern society, our traditional understanding of American history has been undergoing a radical reinterpretation. To what societal, cultural, or spiritual influences do you attribute this shift in perspective?

 

DP: People have stopped reading meaningful books. They are addicted to cheap entertainment. We are actually training our children to be uncomfortable sitting through a meaningful 30-minute sermon, let alone a one-hour symphony performance. Our fast food culture is producing a generation that lives for the moment and doesn’t care about the past. Behind the scenes, devastating philosophies are teaching our children that they are little more than the product of chance and evolution. They are taught that there is no transcendent truth. Precious few professing Christians study their Bible and really feast upon it as God’s love letter to man. Consequently, the hearts of many have waxed cold to the God of history.

 

CBD: Vision Forum’s film The League of Grateful Sons was a moving tribute to the Greatest Generation of World War II. What character traits of World War II veterans do you most admire? How have that particular generation’s sacrifices shaped the American experience for today’s children?

DP: In 2005, I traveled with more than 80 veterans of the Battle of Iwo Jima back to the bloodstained battleground of their youth. Also on the journey were the children, grandchildren, and in one case, great-grandchild, of these heroic men. It was an opportunity for the fathers of the WWII generation to speak to the children of today. Here are some of the things we discovered: First, fatherhood really matters. It was beautiful to hear men in their eighties talk about the close relationship they had with their fathers and the way that those relationships motivated them to play the part of men. Second, to a man, they were individuals who understood that men sacrifice for women and children. Third, these men were extremely grateful for the United States of America. They recognized that freedom comes with a price, and they paid it. Fourth, they were humble. They were a remarkable group of heroes, but they refused honors and deflected praise away from themselves. Each of these qualities—love of fatherhood, sacrifice for women and children, gratitude, and humility—are qualities this generation is lacking. We should look to the example of our WWII fathers for these important qualities.

 

 

CBD: Vision Forum offers many resources on both history and character development. Is there a relationship between the two? If so, how does the knowledge of one subject affect the other?

DP: The Bible teaches us in Hebrews 11 that we should look to the example set by men of the past to inform us on how we should live in the present. The study of history not only teaches us to hope in God, but it allows us to draw from the examples of good character and bad character set by those who went before us. We live at a time when godly character is really at a premium. Our children need real examples. They can learn the discipline of perseverance from George Washington. They can discover how God uses simple men to write the greatest works of history in literature when they study the works of John Bunyan. They can discover the true meaning of creativity and vision to serve the Lord in the field of science from the life of George Washington Carver. Of course, the Bible provides us with the greatest history lessons in character of all time.

 

CBD: Are there any other insights you’d care to share with our readers about your experience as a homeschool father?

DP: In 3 John 1:4, we are told, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” This same principle should apply to earthly fathers and their children. We should dearly and desperately fight for the hearts of our children and pray that God will lead them in truth. But first we must turn our hearts to our children. I believe the return of the homeschooling father to America is a wonderful sign of hope. It means that men are becoming shepherds again. It also means that God is turning the hearts of fathers to children and children to fathers to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Malachi 4:6).

 

 


 

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