Posted on 6 Comments

Report from the homeschool conference

Painting by Albert Anker (Wikimedia Commons).

As you know, I attended the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference last weekend. Last Friday I wrote that I was advertising my book there. One of my readers saw that and asked a friend to get her an autographed copy of my book. That was flattering. Unfortunately, my book isn’t published yet. So what was I doing at the conference and what did I learn?

MCHEC is the biggest homeschool conference in the upper Midwest. Since I am a Catholic homeschooling mom from Minnesota, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to let others know about my book. But my pre-order date is July 16. Instead of having a table this year, I made bookmarks to go into attendee bags–400 of them. I included my blog address and hoped for lots of traffic from people looking for more information or a copy of my free ebook.

I’m still waiting for that increase in traffic. Maybe this was the wrong way to advertise. Maybe my readers didn’t pray enough. Maybe lots of attendees are enjoying a week off of school and will look closer at the advertising in their bags later. I guess I’ll wait a little longer for results.

By the way, will the reader who was hoping for a signed copy of Trusting God with St. Therese please email me? I want to make sure you get one somehow. I’m working on options for signed copies to go to those who buy in the pre-order period.

Here are summaries from the three talks I attended at the conference.

Becoming a better mother

Keynote speaker Dr. Meg Meeker spoke on being a happy mother. What a great and inspiring speaker!

Here are three keys she gave to being a better, happier mother:

  • Stop being so competitive. Scrap perfectionism and comparisons with other moms.
  • Put aside your fear of mistakes. God created you to be a mom and gave you everything you need to succeed. Trust Him!
  • Develop your faith. Make love your motivation. Teach your kids that God is enough for you.

Blessing while assessing

Andrew Kern of Circe gave an excellent workshop on proper assessment. A few highlights:

  • You can’t educate a child unless you know what he is. That’s where the public school model gets everything wrong.
  • Made in God’s image, we can’t be happy unless we are imitating someone else.
  • Information can be easily quantified. Truth cannot.
  • Model the behavior you desire to teach, have kids imitate it, give feedback, have them modify their actions.

Details on the Common Core

Ginny Sueffert returned to the conference to speak about the Common Core.

The Common Core standards were not developed by content experts. Both the Language Arts and Math committees had one token expert. Both refused to sign off on the final recommendations. Much of the literature kids should be reading has been replaced with activities designed to make them community activists.

States adopted the Common Core because they need the stimulus money tied to it. All the money–and thus, teachers’ job security and pay raises–are tied to test scores. The tests, of course, are based on the standards. So there is really no room for teachers to vary from the standards. Some teachers report being required by their school or district to read from a script in class and not deviate from it, even when the students don’t understand the lesson.

Finally, 500 data points are being collected on each child, from pre-school to age 20. This data is stored online and tied to children’s names. It includes addresses, health records, family situation, and every problem in school. Unscreened employees of textbook companies and others can access this information.

Unbelievably, one school in Pennsylvania gave students Macbooks with cameras that could be remotely activated by teachers, so they could see where children were and what they were doing at any time of day. One family is suing the school district after more than 6000 photos were taken remotely of their son in his bedroom at home. Another school in Florida took iris scans of young kids, supposedly to make sure everyone got on the right bus.

All this is being done without parents being allowed to opt their kids out.

Giveaways for my new book start next week

To end on a less dire note, please sign up for email alerts or revisit Contemplative Homeschool on Tuesday. I’ll be giving away an excerpt of my book to all subscribers. More contests, giveaways, and sneak previews will follow over the next two months.

I hope you’re excited!

UPDATE: for photos (including one of me) and other information on the conference, visit Margaret at Minnesota Mom.

Connie Rossini

Posted on 24 Comments

Teach your kids something useless

File:Muttergottes mit musizierenden Engeln um 1490 ohne Rahmen.jpg
Virgin with Angels Playing Musical Instruments, artist unknown (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

Every once in a while, educational fads turn toward “back to basics.” Schools emphasize necessary and useful subjects–meaning, useful for getting a job. Math, reading, and science take center stage. Other subjects get cut. In fact, one of the biggest criticisms of the new Common Core Standards is its utilitarian, vocational perspective on education.

In contrast, I urge you to teach your children “useless” subjects. The liberal arts were so-called not because they appealed to left-leaning politicians, but because they were free.  They do not serve any utilitarian purpose. They will not necessarily earn you college admission, a steady job, or a good salary. But they will enrich your life. They have value in and of themselves.

Remember why you chose to homeschool?

Think about the reasons you teach your children. If you keep them home in order to teach them about the Faith, your main focus is “useless” according to the world’s standards.

Some people homeschool primarily to help their kids excel on tests, in college, and in their careers. I am not one of them.

We waste a lot of time in our homeschool on such useless things as:

  • reading and memorizing the Bible
  • art appreciation and art projects
  • music lessons
  • literature
  • catechism
  • cursive handwriting
  • listening to opera
  • acting in plays

Making memories

My boys may use one or two of these things if they choose specific careers. But that’s not why we do them. We do them to make our lives beautiful, virtuous, fun, and meaningful.

I read aloud nearly every day after lunch, and I plan to continue this until J finishes high school. Some of my favorite memories are of my dad reading aloud to the family in the evenings. I would not deprive my children of this for all the prestige in the world.

It is said that the best things in life are free. Teach your children the best things. Teach them the free arts. Teach them subjects that are useless.

Connie Rossini

Share with us: What is your favorite “useless ” subject? How do you make time for impractical studies?