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Some Thoughts From Guest Editor Michael Leppert

by Michael Leppert

Conference 1999

We completed our 3rd Annual "kid comfortable" Homeschool Conference in late May at the large and beautiful Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills, a western suburb of Los Angeles. Producing a conference of any size from 100 to 1 million is a large, exhausting undertaking. Hopefully, it is also one that inevitably provides a deep sense of satisfaction. For us, that occurs after our traditional Sunday evening dinner at the hotel. We drive home in a post-conference stupor and as quickly as possible, slump into our favorite chairs in the quiet of home. There we have an opportunity to read through the attendee evaluation forms and find that our "audience" indeed, enjoyed this speaker or that presenter whose message we wanted to include in the conference. One’s mind immediately begins planning next year’s conference while reading through the "wish I could see" suggestions for speakers and/or vendors.

A conference is really a show that must to be envisioned, planned and staged. Each step in the process offers its own challenges and rewards. Those who attended The Link Conference 1999 seemed pleased —many even excited —and here and there, we found comments that a certain speaker had changed a family’s life forever. We know the feeling. That is the greatest pleasure of producing the conference: We too, have our family’s life forever altered (a number of times, now) by a great speaker and/or thinker, who points out what is already under nose.

Dr. Viera Scheibner, vaccine research specialist from Australia, was one such speaker. Her presentations and video programs helped many families who are wrestling with the issue of vaccine dangers by offering in-depth information. An intelligent, well-informed decision is possible with the information available to families through the work of Dr. Scheibner and others.

Dr. Oliver DeMille, picking up where he left off last year, shed more light on the concept of parents mentoring and using the classics to do so. It is very exciting to be involved on the cutting edge of what may be an American renaissance of statesmanship and citizenship in presenting Dr. DeMille at our conferences and here in the pages of The Link!

Also picking up his thread of thought from last year was a veritable conference fixture and major Light Bearer, John Taylor Gatto. John spoke about his forthcoming, long-awaited book The Empty Child as well as numerous other topics. (Please see below for more on his book.)

Other fixtures of The Link conferences are "locals," college-entrance expert and author, Cafi Cohen and learning-styles analyst and advisor, Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis, both of whom become more popular each year.

A newcomer to The Link, Gail Withrow, bravely came all the way from Texas to present her workshop challenging the concept of unschooling. The workshop was packed, with over 90 people sitting on the floor and spilling out into the hallway!

Also new to our conference were: Catherine Levison, who provided much information (also to packed workshops) about the very popular Charlotte Mason method. We look forward to Catherine contributing many articles to The Link in future issues. Dr. Mary Hood, a popular Christian unschooler from Georgia, brought her Southern warmth and much valuable information to overflowing crowds. We were pleased to include popular Southern California (first-time Linker) writing workshop presenter Cathy Duffy who offered an excellent presentation on turning children on to writing which was useful and well-received.

Veteran Link conference speaker, Jackie Orsi, as always, gave us very thought-provoking workshops mixing quantum physics and real life, and was an often-mentioned favorite on evaluation forms. Martin & Caroline Forte offered their "hit" workshop on how to make learning effective and fun through the use of games. CHN provided their Homeschooling Your Family seminar which kicks off the conference each year on Friday, and is always a popular attraction.

Master storyteller, Jim Weiss, graced us with his unique presence for the third year in a row providing storytelling workshops and performing on Saturday night to a room of over 300 parents and children.

To all of you who attended, presented and/or had a vending booth, thanks from us at The Link for another memorable experience! To those of you who missed it, we hope you make it to No. 4, same place, nearly same time —May 19, 20 & 21, 2000.

In This Issue

In this issue of The Link you will find much good material from a broad range of sources. Thoughts and observations from homeschooling parents like the always enjoyable Dan Hofford; insights into unusual aspects of life and homeschooling with Marsha Ransom, in Moments with Marsha; Gayla Thorsen, (aka The Link Librarian) brings her knowledge from among the stacks to us with info on insects; a new science column, Science with Laurisa (Reyes White), and Elizabeth Ryan, contributes two noteworthy pieces — one on A Day in the Life and another with fresh perspective on spanking.

We have so many articles featuring insects in a prominent role, you’d think it was the "bug" issue!Too bad we couldn’t have done a review of the new Volkswagen. I guess this is how we usher in summer!

You will find Cathy Duffy’s trademark clear thinking and writing in her excellent review of John Taylor Gatto’s long-anticipated book, The Empty Child. John is his usual mind piquing self as Cathy’s review illustrates.

Jackie Orsi offers a great article in Grey Matters about the commonalities between the old Soviet Union mindset and the modern American one.

Dr. Renee Fuller of Ball-Stick-Bird contributes a good-reading piece about book knowledge vs. hands-on knowledge in Implicit Versus Explicit Learning.

This issue’s interview, focuses on Dr. Oliver DeMille, President of George Wythe College and a prime presenter at Link Conferences 1998 and ‘99. Dr. DeMille promotes the ideas of mentoring our children and using the classics to teach them the important information and concepts of humanity and life. We find his slant on learning and life very appealing and so do many, many of our conference attendees and regular readers. Watch for news of Oliver’s new book, The Thomas Jefferson Education, too.

Diane Flynn Keith, Editor of the great Northern California journal, Homefires, graces our pages with an excellent advisory article called God Save The Field Trip Queen. Diane has obviously "been there, done that."

Gary Grammar checks in with some pithy thoughts on parents’ qualifications to teach their own and Donna Faturos continues her enthralling look at ancient forms of English in Foreign Language.

Lennon’s Room gets better looking as Lennon learns to manipulate the Canon PC 745 astro copier, producing more and more images from other galaxies! Our next issue, out in August, will be the Back To School (?!?) Issue with lots of great products, reviews and more articles for your reading enjoyment. ‘Bye until then.

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