Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You Heard It Here First

Here is my January 2010 blog post where I share frustration as a homeschool conference attendee that the sessions are too lifestyle oriented and not education or learning focused.

My Issue with Christian Homeschool Conferences and Magazines

Here is a recent blog post by Susan Wise Bauer, co-author of The Well Trained Mind, where she shares her decision to not speak at homeschool conferences in the year 2013 due to increasing pressures from conference organizers.

"I love to teach; I love to help parents and teachers teach. That’s part of what I do. But conferences seem, increasingly, less focused in education and more on lifestyle: whether that’s back-to-the-earth, drop-out-of-the-system, or build-God’s-kingdom-through-home-schooling. Check out the workshop offerings at your nearest conference, and look at the percentages: how many of the workshops are dedicated to teaching and learning? and how many focus on parenting, marriage issues, family dynamics, church matters, theology, bread-baking, organic gardening…?"

"But in the past few years, I have been asked, by multiple different conference organizers, to promise to NOT talk about certain theories, or certain types of education; to give any appearance of endorsing certain organizations, life choices, or philosophies; to swear I won’t bring certain books for my book table; to mention certain words. None of which, I should say, have anything to do with what I normally talk about: grammar, history, writing, reading, learning. I have been told that I am not welcome, in some cases, because I talk too much about the psychology of learning, and not about the Bible. Or because I have a theological degree and am obviously pushing a Christian agenda. Because my “professional associations,” however loose, are too liberal, or too secular, or too Christian.

And many of the conferences that put these restrictions on me don’t advertise themselves as “A Conference on Education For People Who Hope To Follow X Philosophy of Life.” They present themselves as “The Official State Home Education Organization For Your State!” or “The Only Education Conference You Should Attend if You Teach Your Kids!” or…"
from One More Update About Future Plans

I have been helped in the past by listening to audio recordings of Susan Wise Bauer recorded at far-away conferences. I have not had the chance to hear her speak in person in the past, the drives were too long.

I just learned she's speaking IN MY OWN TOWN in the summer of 2012. I hope I am here to hear her in person before it's too late. I guess I'll have to schedule my summer vacation around the upcoming homeschool conference!


Xa Lynn said...

Oddly enough, I spent this past weekend at a homeschool conference. This one does, however, bill itself specifically as Christian. Another in this area specifically bills itself as Catholic, possibly in response to the very Evangelical Protestant slant of the first.

There WERE a lot of workshops focused on lifestyle. But many on teaching various special needs students, and some that were specific subject oriented. I find the Young Earth "Science" bombastic and often guilty of poor logic and pseudo-argument. But I'm at the point I just keep my mouth shut and move on. I don't particularly want to attend a secular homeschool conference, because I find that leaves out just as much on the other end of the spectrum for me. I do see Bauer's point, though.

KC said...

Our local homeschool conference (in Oregon) is very unschooling and young, just starting homeschooling focused. It's frustrating. They have a couple workshops about college prep or 'recent homeschool graduates' (all of whom are living some type of alternative lifestyle (baker, musician, none of them went to a 4 year college). Anyway, I agree with your post. It's sad that people feel such a need to limit who they hear and what they're exposed to.

ChristineMM said...

Conference organizers have control over the content and who the speakers are. I know this as I was a conference organizer for a breastfeeding and parenting conference.

Within the homeschool community as with life, people often want to surround themselves with like minded people and to push their personal agenda.

Since the volunteers for the inclusive CT group were radical unschoolers the conference was heavily leaning toward radical unschooling. The main speaker said if her son wanted to be a garbage man it was fine with her. It takes a strong leader of a general inclusive group to see that the conference speakers are varied and not all of one kind or are not just pushing one method or agenda.

It is hard to plan conferences and to get speakers, it's just not a simple thing.