Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom

On Saturday I went to a homeschooling conference because (1) I need a good kick in the butt sometimes and (2) it was free. I had never heard of Michael & Debi Pearl who were the speakers but soon learned that he at least is an interesting character, to put it mildly. They live out in a small fundamentalist town in Tennessee, so it was akin (to use his terms) to hearing Daniel Boone speak about homeschooling his kids. For example, he gave us a long list of what we ought to teach our kids and included skills such as hunting game and trapping fish, making knives from scratch, and navigation for when one gets lost in the forest.

He was also highly opinionated about religious issues. He recommended the King James Version of the Bible as being the only one worth reading and commented that he couldn't see why a woman would major in something like civil engineering in college when she's wouldn't be able to continue with it once she had kids.

Also, he doesn't celebrate Christmas because it was based on a pagan holiday. I was most offended when he displayed his small town snobbery by telling us we city folk don't know what real community is. Excuse me, my neighbors sent casseroles over when I was in the hospital during childbirth just like any small town neighbor would.

Despite a few crazy ideas, Michael Pearl displayed a lot of wisdom. Especially during the Q & A session when people asked the most bizarre questions (eg. is it okay if we don't allow our kids to cry? His response: I still cry). I can't remember everything he said without looking at my notebook. It was mostly the usual homeschooling spiel. Overall, he impressed me, and I'm not that easy to impress, I think.

This was my first homeschooling conference ever, so a big part of it was just me soaking it all in. I never would've imagined thinking, gee I don't have enough kids, maybe I should have more, but it popped in my head momentarily as I scanned all the handsome families with 5 or more kids. There's something naturally attractive about a good-looking mother and father dressed nicely with their 5 matching kids sitting quietly. Maybe if I were younger, Mormon, more energetic, more insane...

It was also nice to see the vast number of homeschoolers in the area. Normally I feel like such an outsider, having to deal with people's incredulous expressions (why? are you crazy?). But at the conference, there were over 1000 of us all packed together. It was like, power to us homeschoolers! Some families were very hip with their low-riders and flip-flops while others were Amish looking. It was odd; for the first time in my life, I actually felt fashionable.

Besides giving my fashion esteem a boost, the conference motivated me to keep going, keep homeschooling despite the challenges, and that makes the time spent listening to a quirky guy worth it.

In fact I will be going to another conference in a few weeks because (1) it is cheap and includes lunch, and (2) I could use another fashion self-confidence boost.


Anonymous said...

I love how you ended it: I could use another fashion self-confidence boost.

I can see how you'd have to pick and choose morsels of information from what he said. Not everything will hold the same amount of weight for everybody and some of that did sound a bit extreme.

I admire moms who homeschool. I always wanted to and I think it would have been not a good thing for one of my kids but a very good thing for the other. My chief problem with it all would be organization.

Tony said...

I haven't experienced homeschooling in person, but in general I think it's a good idea, provided the parents have the capability to teach their children all that is necessary. I think that teaching older skills like hunting etc is not a bad idea, one day kids may need those skills, and it's always good to learn about the outdoors.

My biggest fear is that home schooled kids don't get the same opportunity to socialize with other kids their age as those who go to a regular school, which might inhibit their social skills.

Great article and a good read.

Tami said...

Hi Pam,
I just got your comment =).
I wish I could take credit for that post! I got it from an email =)

Veronica Lee said...

That was a fantastic read!