Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oregon Home Education Network Conference

I was excited to be able to take in a conference by OHEN this year. I have never been to a homeschool conference and wasn't sure what to expect. The topics were divided into several categories like parenting, homeschooling methods, etc. I cant recall the different divisions but they all looked interesting.

The conference opened with a talk by Pat Ferango, the big head guy of the organization. He had some good ideas and showed some good video with lots of quotes sprinkled throughout but it wasn't long before I began to get an uneasy feeling that he and I were not on the same homeschool page!

As long time readers know I do not buy into the unschool idea that is sweeping through the homeschool community. Now Pat didn't advocate unschooling but he was pretty loose about his ideas of schooling at home. His next class looked good though so I decided to stick with him to get a better idea of where he was going. My suspicion was confirmed. "Don't turn your home into a school," he said. Well, that's just what I have done and I make no apologies for it. He was of the mind that a child should not be made to learn anything if they didn't want to. Find out what the child is interested in and go with it. Well that might be fine but here in Oregon we have to test with the state so we have to teach more than how to build with Legos!

Not liking his lackadaisical approach to schooling I chose to listen to another speaker for the next hour.

I attended a class on classical education that was a good class but not exceptional. The teacher divided us into three parts and had us pretend that we were in a room school house with all grades in one. Then we read in unison from the chalkboard the different poems and Scripture she had written there. The point was to show how children longer ago learned just by listening to older children and how much of their schooling was learned by rote! Yawn! I attended a one room schoolhouse when I was a kid in the Mennonite Church. We had all 8 grades in one room. So while everyone else was wowed I was bored.

The next session I wanted to take in was on connecting with your teen in the early years. I've already raised a child through the teen years but I am open to learning more from older women who have taken more children through the teen years then I have. I was late to that class. I couldn't find the room if my life depended on it. Someone finally told me they thought it was upstairs. So I trotted up the stairs where I found another lady very mixed up and looking around for her class while sorting through her papers at the same time.

She had a dress on and so did I. The difference was that while I was totally comfortable in my dress she was not! It was on the short side and looked like it had shrunk. It was made of T- shirt material and stretched tight as she squatted to pick up her papers. She was smack at the top of the stairs and I was coming up. Well, you know what I'm about to say! Yes, there she squatted arranging her papers while showing her underwear to anybody coming up the stairs. Her hair was stringy and I just dismissed her as some poor woman who really didnt know what she was about.

I went to the bathroom then found my parenting class. I entered the classroom and who did I see teaching the class!! The same lady that already shown us her whitey tightey's! I was horrified! Now you can call me judgemental if you like but I can tell you that right then and there I knew that that woman had nothing to teach me on parenting! The number one thing you teach a little girl is how to sit, stoop and bend over in a dress. I wasn't about to endure an hour under her instruction. I backed out of that class so fast it wasn't funny!

Now Pat Ferangos classes were looking pretty good so I figured I'd go back and catch his next class. The one thing I did like was all the statistics he threw in about college graduates and how many of them had jobs and the percentage of them that actually made more than those without college degrees. Of the top people in the Fortune 400 group the salary of those with degrees was an average of 2.13 billion and the average salary of those without degrees was 2.27 billion.

Again though I was less than happy with his attitude about homeschool. The idea that "if a child doesn't want to learn to read then dont make them" just didn't sit well with me no matter how many examples he gave of 16 year olds that learned to read and do Math when they had to for jobs.

With his class over I had one more session for the day. I must choose it wisely. I chose one on Teaching Using Multiple Intelligences. That turned out to be the best class of the day for me! I am fascinated by teaching according to the child's aptitudes. I took copious notes in her class and will return to them once I get a minute of free time.

So this is a birds eye view of the conference. Would I go again? Surprisingly the answer is yes. I paid $50 for the conference and I do feel I got my moneys worth.


  1. Advocating unschooling while discussing the advantages of a college education seems slightly at odds to me. How will a homeschooled child survive college if they haven't been taught the basics? Like you said, you can't learn everything from building legos (though I have one child who would like to try).

    I'm glad you still were able to glean some useful information. The story of the whitey-tighteys is just too funny! Poor lady.

  2. You crack me up. I wish I could have seen your face when you realozed that was the teacher. Hilarious. I am laughing so hard.

    I am glad you felt you got your money's worth. And a little extra too.

  3. I'm a big believer in giving kids the time to follow their interests, but always within certain boundaries. Math and language arts are non-negotiables. A child could be given a certain amount of time, say a week, to follow an interest in a certain subject, then you could get back to the regular lessons. I certainly wouldn't let a child wait until the teen years to decide to take up reading. Are showers going to be optional as well? How about eating with a fork? I am glad you felt you got your money's worth. I usually skip the classes and just look at the books. :)


Thank you for taking the time to add to the discussion here. Your ideas and thoughts are always welcome!

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