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Ocean View

by Michael Leppert

Another Link Los Angeles Conference Under Our Belts!

The Link 4th annual Los Angeles Conference was held three weeks ago. (We will be running some photos in the next issue.) We would like to thank everyone who attended. It was fun and, judging from the Evaluation Forms we received, very rewarding to the attendees. Our household has recovered — at least enough for me to form actual thoughts in my mind and make sounds with my mouth other than the mumblings of a dazed man. Whew! What a job! But it is very satisfying, as you can imagine . . . bringing such excellent speakers, vendors and homeschool families together in one place to mingle. As I have said in the past, for me, the conference is like a giant, three-day dinner party. Thank you again for coming. I hope all of you will return next year, same place, same time (the weekend between Motherís Day & Memorial Day).

Where Have All the Fathers Gone?

At the Conference opening address I made a remark about being pleased to see so many dads in attendance and the importance of fathers becoming involved in their childrenís education and lives — boy did that get supportive applause! Also, on the Evaluation Forms, a dadsí panel or dadsí workshops were consistently mentioned as desired additions to future Conferences. I have been working on a Conference presentation to give at our Chicago Conference, July 21-23, about fatherhood in America. Although I have some insights and observations, I would like to have at least one workshop be a discussion format more than just a full hour of my talking. There are so many important categories of fathering experience for us to discuss and learn from: Fathers of many girls; fathers of many boys; fathers of few girls; few boys; only children; Christian fathers; Jewish fathers, Muslim fathers; non-religious fathers; fathers who work outside of home; fathers (as I am) who are self-employed and work from home. . .

I would appreciate receiving your suggestions and/or comments about Homeschooling Fatherhood in America for some input about ideas and topics needing discussion. You can write to me by e-mail at hompaper@gte.netor snail mail at any of The Link addresses found throughout this paper.

A New Country

When Mary and I were addressing the audience on the opening day of the Conference, I had the opportunity to study the entire group of 300-400 intent listeners. I felt that I was looking at my fellow citizens -- those who dwell in a different country than the "mainstream" populace. Homeschooling is like a country of its own. In the Homeschooling Almanac I refer to my view that each family is its own sovereign state. All of the families of the U.S. go into the make-up of the entire country. The families who homeschool also form another level of "country" in addition to the individual sovereignty of each family. Together, all of us who homeschool form a larger entity with different values and life-experiences than those of families who do not teach and 100% raise their own children. We 100%-ers know our children (and ourselves) differently; we know Life differently as well. The culture we develop and nurture within our homes is usually very different from the culture of families whose children attend institutional schools and develop their cultural values as members of the Herd. In the early days of modern homeschooling, there werenít enough families to make up a very sizable "country" but now, we have a large population, growing continually. I am grateful to be able to raise my son in such a setting and very proud to be a member of this fine, intangible country with so many excellent citizens!

Catch the Buzz!

Our hearty congratulations to double stinger George Abraham Thamy, who did us homeschoolers proud by winning the Scrippsí National Spelling Bee two weeks after placing in the National Geography Bee! Way to go, George! The Link sends you a hearty Bzzz, bzzz! From what I have heard, his victory has set off a media frenzy about homeschooling. (Uh-oh, better make sure our kidsí faces are clean and their clothes look fresh before we go anywhere in the middle of a school day for a couple of weeks, until this all dies down!)

Recently I heard a sportscaster embarrass himself by commenting that nobody needs to know how to spell anymore because of spell-check on the computer! Yikes! You can tell that he doesnít write very much — maybe he just sticks to one-syllable words or abbreviations he knows how to spell — NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB! The spell-check programs on every computer I have ever used — whether at home or in an office setting — arenít reliable by themselves and always have to be supplemented with a functioning human brain. These programs miss glaring misspellings and sometimes "catch" as errors, obviously correct renderings. The grammar checking programs are even worse! Remember, your spell-check and similar programs are only as good as the programmer who developed them for the computer manufacturer. It is far better to have oneís own brain, you can add to at anytime . . . then your spell checker goes everywhere with you -- sorta like a lap-top, only more portable!!

Harpo, Honk If You Can Hear Me!

By now, you may have heard that in early April, the Oprah Winfrey Show had "homeschooling" as a topic. (I didnít see it; I donít watch T.V.) My knowledge of the show comes from comments and anecdotal descriptions of others, but apparently, Oprah featured some sort of expert-texpert to put forth his negative opinion of parentsí teaching their own children, blah, blah, etc., and from the reports I have heard it does not appear that there were any representatives on the positive side to represent the upside of homeschooling. So it seems that, rather than being a piece of information, it was merely schooly propaganda — yet another media manipulation.

Someone said that Oprah was praising schools and the audience burst into supportive applause. What would I expect, huh? More than that from Oprah Winfrey, you can bet. I was discussing the show with a wiser person than I am (my wife) who said that given Oprahís childhood home life of cruel and abusive treatment at the hands of her family, school was very likely the only "safe" place she had and that Oprah would also view "education" (institutional schooling) as the only way "out and up" for her. Mustering my compassion and allowing it to steer my opinion, I have to admit that for a child whose parents are virtually unfit for raising offspring or are so pathologically bent that they are abusive and cruel, institutional school is better. I believe that institutional schools and the training they provide, should exist only for the benefit of those who, through hard-time finances or the above-mentioned socially mitigating circumstances, have to be there.

All other children whose parents are capable of raising them properly should be homeschooled. I am disappointed that Oprah, who has appeared to be an objective beacon of sense and light on so many topics, would stoop to subjectively whitewashing the school system and its negative social impact. Despite the fact that it was beneficial to her, she could have remained objective and recognized that for most children, institutional schools are still institutions. Her childhood does not represent the average; therefore neither does her school experience. Ah, well, so close and yet so far away.

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