One Byfield Legacy: Relationships (Part 2)

Categories: Léo’s Insights 2021-2022, Relationships


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Last time, I announced the passing of Edward Bartlett Byfield.  Ted was a journalist at heart, but he was also a teacher, a historian and a political pundit responsible for coining the phrase “the west wants in”.  This became the rallying cry of the western-based Reform movement which eventually led to Stephen Harper’s nine years as Prime Minister of Canada.

I knew of Ted for years as an incredible writer and the architect behind the twelve-volume “Alberta History” and “Christian History” projects.  I was a financial supporter of both projects and remain the proud owner of both original sets.  I can still remember the excitement I experienced receiving each new volume in the mail.  It took me over twenty years to get both sets, one book at a time.

Due to my long-standing support of both projects, Ted came to visit me about fifteen year ago with the intention of squeezing a bit more out of me to facilitate the distribution of the Christian History Project.  What started as a fundraising mission resulted in us becoming good friends, a friendship for which I am eternally grateful.

When Ted initially visited me, he knew absolutely nothing about home education.  He was, after all, a school master who, while advancing a solid Christian education at his Saint John’s School, still advanced the school model for learning, albeit with a stricter, more disciplined approach than what could be expected in public school.

Ted was fascinated by my “parents must be the boss” philosophy.   He marvelled that I advanced an “unschooling” approach to learning.  He asked me to speak at a few events, including addressing the Board of the Society to Explore and Record Christian History (SEARCH).  I was then asked to write a program to facilitate the use of Ted’s material in schools.  I was much too busy to take on this project but I recommended Dr. Michael Wagner who completed the task some time later.

While the success of this program was rather limited, we did have a few students enrol in the program. Ted’s experience with home educated students persuaded him that a home-based education was superior to a school-based education; he found these students to be more motivated and capable of independent critical thinking than their school-based counterparts.

While one of our students was engaged in the program, her family experienced the complete loss of their home due to a fire.  We hosted a special event at our place where Ted presented the family with a replacement Christian History set.  As the day progressed, Ted who was still driving at the time, decided to leave for home.  As I helped him to his car, Ted shared a most interesting thing with me.  He told me that up until this time, he had discouragingly come to the conclusion that the world was headed toward a dismal future; he saw no real hope in the post-millennial children. Then he came to know the world of home education through me, which renewed his hope for the future.

Ted came to understand what we have been advocating all along.  The further we can distance ourselves from the existing school system, the better we will all be.  Long live home education and may Ted’s legacy include his endorsement of it.

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