Thoughts on the Southeast Homeschool Convention, Part One

It’s going to take more than one post to talk about the Southeast Homeschool Convention, I think, so this is part one. All of us went, plus my parents, so you’ll see details about that.

Thursday. For anyone local planning to go in a future year, we left between 9:30 and 10 am. We stopped for Starbucks at Exit 149 on I-85, and then at O’Charley’s for lunch, about 20-30 miles from the hotel & the convention center. We arrived at the hotel around 1:30 pm and decided to try checking in, despite the official check-in time of 3 pm. We were lucky and our rooms were ready, so we checked in and unloaded the car. Then we headed over to the convention center.

My mom and I stayed there; the others went to go miniature golfing. I was unprepared for the sheer number of people already there. All of the registration lines were horribly long–except the one for my last name. Score! We were able to quickly register, then found a place to sit and make our plans for the remainder of that day.

My first session was about planning high school, or so I thought, but it turned into more of a session about what to do each year with a view towards college. Since I already knew more about testing for college and so forth than most of the people in the room, this was kind of a wash. I couldn’t slip out easily, though, and I didn’t have another session that sounded appealing (this one had been my back-up choice, but the schedule was redone). My mom went to see Cindy Wiggins speak about kids working independently. This was my mother’s first real introduction to the craziness of the whackadoodle homeschool crowd, bless her (Christian and liberal) heart. She nearly walked out of her session because the woman started it by dissing university professors. My mother works at a university, albeit as consultant/staff, not faculty; still, she wasn’t that impressed with this session.

My second session was with Ed Zaccaro, author of books such as Challenge Math and Real World Algebra. It was a good session. He referenced Outliers, how to create a quality program for the mathematically gifted, and other great topics. Meanwhile, my mother went to see Dr. Carol Reynolds, which was also a great talk. I left the end of that session and encountered a long line of people. Then I realized they were waiting for the vendor hall to open. Ooookay. Well, we had thirty minutes to kill, so we went in. We took in the layout but didn’t yet purchase anything.

Then my mom and I went to see Dr. Peter Enns. The room was eerily empty. I chalked it up to people being caught up in the vendor hall and missing the 6:30 sessions. Listen, y’all, I can be completely clueless when necessary! I hadn’t seen any of the upscut at that point. I just thought it was disappointing that there weren’t more people in the session, because he’s an excellent speaker. His voice is very calm and easy to listen to, he’s organized as a speaker–it was an enjoyable session. (Side note: if you watch QaF, his voice reminds me of Ben’s voice.) I think I learned more in that one hour about various points than I had in perhaps years of childhood church attendance. His perspective was one I enjoyed, too. How to put this? Dr. Enns is undoubtedly not nearly as liberal as I in any way :), but it’s been too long since I heard a voice in Christianity calling for love and communion with Christ, rather than shrill judgement and legalism. The items that stick out are his call not to be too quick to personalize the Bible, and his goal for children to develop a real, not superficial faith, one that prepares them for a lifetime as adult Christians. It was refreshing. I admit, I was predisposed to like him; I was surprised by how much I did.

Like many of the speakers I saw, both Ed Zaccaro and Dr. Enns are Mac people.

After the end of that session, my mom and I took PC while the menfolk, EG, and FB went to a presentation on sibling relationships. We shopped. I did all of my “must-get” shopping. While at the WTM booth, a blowhard (you know the type!) of a man was arguing with Suzanne of WTM about SWB’s use of “BC/BCE” in the SOTW books. Seriously. (I later heard the same blowhard pontificating about Classical Conversations while at their booth. This time he was positive in his statements, but the attitude was similar. What an annoyance!) This was the only hint I picked up on of all the other “excitement.”

Finally we all returned to the hotel, and once all the children went to sleep, I ate dinner, as it were: chips and salsa, plus a slice of bologna. I never said it was the best dinner ever.

Thoughts on the vendor hall: as you might expect, places like My Father’s World and Heart of Dakota have very large displays, as did Vision Forum, Answers in Genesis, A Beka Book, and Bob Jones. On the other hand, so did places like Miller Pads & Paper and Well-Trained Mind/Peace Hill Press. There were a fair number of completely secular or non-sectarian vendors. There was one awesome games vendor, and several used/antique book vendors (I found the Francis Scott Key COFA book in near-mint condition! One of my favorite books as a child.). There was certainly more than enough to look at, even for secular, evolutionary, and/or non-sectarian homeschoolers. Other vendors clearly had a religious slant to some of their offerings (Exploring Creation with Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, anyone? I saw that series EVERYWHERE), but also had non-sectarian and secular resources.

One thing that even Spousal Unit noted was how various curriculums were marketed. Without fail, all of the mathematics curriculums were being sold under the guise of “Math is tough,” whether as an explicit slogan (printed on the free wooden ruler we were handed) or in a more implicit manner. “Where,” he asked me, “are the curricula that are challenging? Where are the banners saying ‘If your current math is too easy, come visit our table!’?” Needless to say, there was no table for Art of Problem Solving.

I think any attendee is going to find multiple vendors and booths that do not, in any way, apply to his/her family and needs. That said, with a vendor hall that large, there was still more than enough to buy and plenty of things to browse. In some ways, I’m glad there were a number of vendors I immediately did not consider, since that made it seem easier and less overwhelming!


Gretchen said...

very interesting...thanks for the report! I keep trying to figure out a good way to go next year without dragging all the kids along...maybe if I start working on my mother NOW she'll agree to keep them for the weekend :)

Anonymous said...

Are your comments from the 2011Southeast Homeschool Convention? I heard that Dr. Ken Ham interrupted Dr. Enns' presentation during the 2011 convention. Did Dr. Ham say anything during the presentation you attended?

Kash said...

Yes, they are, and no, there were no interruptions at the session I attended. However, as there were two additional sessions by Dr. Enns, I can't speak to what may or may not have occurred in those.

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