History of TPS
Academic education is a Christian virtue…
TPS was founded in 1997. We were one of the first online homeschool course pioneers, and the first to use a whiteboard and visual content in the online classroom. We were founded during the early days of the homeschooling movement, which was at that time quite different (in purpose, values, and methodology) from where it evolved later. To understand TPS’s history and current mission purpose and values, it is helpful to understand some of the original purpose and values of homeschooling in those early days.
Homeschooling did not start as a commercial, political, or sectarian movement. In the early days, our primary interest was to provide our kids an excellent affordable education from a biblical worldview. Our formative beliefs were:
- Academic education is a Christian virtue, not an institution.
- Throughout the Bible we saw that the physical world was created for the purpose of glorifying God (e.g., Ps 19:1), so we considered that study of the physical world was an important aspect of worship.
- From the Creation account in Genesis, we perceived a mandate to manage and care for the Creation, which we further understood as a directive for us to faithfully study and learn all we can about the Creation.
- Christian education should be pursued in excellence in all subjects.
- The NT Greek for “virtue” literally means “excellence”, and the Bible encourages us to seek that virtue in all our endeavors (e.g., 2 Pet 1:1-7).
- All academic subjects are equally valuable for study and worship (e.g., Jn 1:3, Ps 24:1-2). (We rejected the unvirtuous idea that a student who is not naturally good at a particular subject should be exempted from learning to his full potential in that subject, or should be provided a lesser education in that subject. We felt this dishonored God and disrespected our children, and it was one of our primary reasons for leaving the institutional education system.)
- The Bible in its original text is authoritative as a source of truth and virtue, and so it is to be studied academically in excellence for the purpose of understanding its intent in its original context and as applied to our current context. (We considered academic study of the Bible – history, theology, philosophy – to be a required school subject that was part of each student’s core curriculum at every grade level.)
- Our identity and worth are derived from being created in God’s Image and redeemed by Jesus’s sacrifice, not from grades or standardized test scores.
- We considered grades to be measures of accomplishment of specific course objectives, not measurements of identity and worth, and so we connected grades to course objectives not to identity, value, or intelligence. A hard-earned B was more virtuous than a contrived A.
- This gave our kids freedom to do hard things and attempt big things without fear of failure or diminishment.
Based on these values, in those early days, our concerns with the institutional education system were:
- Public school students were artificially labeled as “gifted” and given special treatment or “normal” and given a mediocre standards education with no individual attention. (There was also “special education”, which was another concern that prompted some families toward homeschooling.)
- Private schools often offered a better education but at costs that were out of reach for average families. We did not believe that a good education should be unreachably expensive.
- Both public and private schools were places of significant peer-pressure where the student either had to submit his or her identity (i.e., source of individual worth and value) to a peer group or function as a social outcast.
As is evident from the current contours of Christian homeschooling, some things have changed since the early days. The early 2000s brought commercialization with a large influx of “homeschool” publishers, for-profit course providers (some of whom were those same publishers), and the spectacular “homeschool conventions”. The 2010s brought politicization and polarization. In the early 2020s, COVID affected the academic progress of students worldwide, which is expected to take years to recover to prior academic grade level standards.
TPS was started with an educational focus that was independent of profit and politics. It is still our mission to make widely accessible an excellent education as a pursuit of Christian virtue. Our original values may be “old school” by current measures, but they are ours which we have held consistently from our founding and will continue to apply in serving and supporting students who want to pursue virtue (excellence) in a Christian education that seeks to glorify and serve God through study of the Creation.