Israel Wayne: In what year did you begin homeschooling, and what was your initial reason to start home educating?
Michael Farris: Vickie and I began homeschooling in 1982. We heard Dr. Raymond Moore (Vickie listening on Focus on the Family, I met him in person) explain that children get their values from the people with whom they spend a majority of their time. Our oldest daughter was in the first grade in a Christian school and this idea rang true for us. And we believed that we were smarter and wiser than six year olds.
Israel Wayne: What obstacles did you face in attempting to homeschool (resistance by family, legal threats, lack of access to resources, social stigmas, etc.)?
Michael Farris: Because of my unique position in the movement, we were never intimidated by legal threats. We “hid” our homeschooling in our first year by having a front page article in the Sunday edition of the Seattle Times—the largest newspaper in the state. My father was a public school principal at the time and he did not like the idea of homeschooling initially, but he was a gracious Christian man and did not share that with us until after he changed his mind.
Lack of resources was a very big deal. A Beka would not sell any homeschoolers any teacher’s editions. The only major publisher who would was Bob Jones. There were almost no minor publishers.
Israel Wayne: In what ways were/are you involved in serving the homeschooling community?
Michael Farris: I was the founder of Home School Legal Defense Association. I continue as Chairman of that organization.
Israel Wayne: What trends have you seen in homeschooling today that concern you? Do you see new things about homeschooling today that you appreciate?
Michael Farris: I think that many current trends are positive. Even though many choices are different than the ones my wife and I made, we believe that God gave children to parents not to the state and not to other homeschooling families. I do wish that more people would be aware of the need to be diligent to protect our freedoms.
Israel Wayne: What advice would you give to young families who are just starting out of the homeschooling journey?
Michael Farris: Take care of your marriage as your top priority.
Israel Wayne: Please tell us what life is like for you today, and give us an update on your family.
Michael Farris: We just finished our 33rd year of homeschooling. Eight of our ten children are married. All of our grandchildren of school age either have been or are being homeschooled. We have 19 grandchildren. We are still very active in the movement mainly through my work with HSLDA. We have children and grandchildren at our house pretty much every day. If my wife was healthy, there would be even more interaction.
Israel Wayne: Please share anything else that you think might be of value to our readers.
Michael Farris: God blesses us far beyond what our efforts would justify. My wife and I have no greater joy than this, our children are all walking with God. Maybe they are not all identical to us in every respect—but we view that as a positive and not a drawback. We were trying to raise authentic Christians not clones. We are convinced that homeschooling is an absolute key reason for this spiritual success.