• Attendance

    June 2012
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  • The “Class”

    Avery, Naim, Aaron

  • Subjects

  • Portfolio

June 30, 2012

Today was the Oregon Homeschool Education Network convention. I had never gone before because it was always so expensive. But this year they did it differently and gave exhibitors free space for putting on a workshop (mostly for kids) and the cost for all five of us was only about $70, which included 5 workshops each, lunch for all, and childcare for Avery. Can’t beat that. But we actually overslept and then had trouble finding the right building, so we missed the first workshop, which was just a meet and greet anyway. It was funny when we walked in because right there in the lobby of Valley Catholic High School was Trackers Earth. I’ll give a run-down of the sessions we each attended (Avery was in childcare, provided by Bobbi’s daughter (from VH) and some of her friends.

Session 2:

Nik went to a workshop on how to relate to your teenager, thinking of Karolyn. He said it was a mom who was very impressed with herself and self-righteous. He said they talked some about the new developments about the teenaged brain in neuroscience, frontal lobe not fully developed and what not. But he also thought it got a little stupidly involved when the only other man in the room went off on how he helped his teenage daughter buy a vibrator and he got mad praise from the other women about how great he was for doing that. Nik’s reaction was that he wants Karolyn to be able to come to him and her mom for anything she needs in regards to questions, birth control, STDs etc., but your daughter deserves a private life and that is where vibrators fall. I tend to agree.

I went to a thing given by the kids VH math teacher, who is a lawyer about Personal Development Plans, a stipulation in the homeschooling laws as an alternative to IEPs. It was good info to know, but basically most of it I already knew. I was wondering if there was a funding component to a PDP, there is not. You have to go the IEP route for that. PDP’s purposes seem to be a legal loophole to get kids with disabilities out of mandatory testing.

Aaron and Naim went to a workshop put on by OMSI where they learned about whales. Apparently there was a life sized blow-up whale that they could crawl into. It had a blow hole and everything! And Aaron came out of it talking in Orca language.

We had a lunch break and we went around looking at vendor booths. Naim and I walked out into a courtyard where we met these guys from a place called Academia Duelletoria. OK, this is knife, sword, machete, etc. fighting school. More talk about all this “noble swordsman shit” and pirates etc. In Sweden, with a long history of real pirating and marine warfare in the Baltic, pirates don’t have the jolly “Argh!” fun reputation they have here. Having a “pirate party” in Sweden would be akin to having a “serial rapist killer” party here for a bunch of six year olds. Nik just doesn’t get it.  What the holy fuckety fuck is it with people? I kind of would like to plop them back into the middle ages for a few hours and see them shit their pants when people were like, really getting killed in these manners and then see how “noble” they think they are. But Naim and I watched the kids with their (fake) machetes and shields and I didn’t say much about it. And finally he said, “This is stupid. I don’t get why that is supposed to be fun. You aren’t really going to kill anyone, and if you did it would be bad, so you are just hitting each other’s swords and what is the point?” Exactly. I think what bugs me most about all this shit is that these grown ups are playing. It is all war games. So just admit that and call it that. Don’t come off like you are doing/teaching some noble skills that will help anyone in life. You can call it a sport if you want to, you can say it is a skill. But in the grand scheme of things, you are playing war games which is of really no useful value to society. And between a sport like golf or football or whatever, you could even say it is more detrimental than those (which are pretty neutral, I suppose) because of how they glamorize violence and do not teach real conflict resolution skills. We went back in. Avery and Aaron played at some poor woman’s toy booth for a very long while.

Naim and I outside in the courtyard watching adult men being stupid with toy knives.

Avery and Aaron playing at a toy vendor’s booth.

Session 3:

Nik went to a thing by John Bennet about education consciousness. Which Nik said the only thing he got out of it was the word ‘choice.” Even though the guy lectured nonstop for an hour. (Both Nik and I were like, this is flashbacks to high school and college. Remember how many sheer clock hours we spent sitting in little desks and listening to people talk? It seems odd now.) Anyway, but what really pissed Nik off is that the guy flat refused to even discuss getting Nik the handouts in electronic form, either immediately (they both had electronic devices, he could have just emailed them) or after the presentation. Like just flat out said “no” with no apologies or explanation or effort made. What the hell…

I went to a media literacy workshop. We watched sexist commercials (aren’t they all) and deconstructed them and then talked about how to go through that process with our kids. It was OK.

Aaron went to a pastels art class and made a picture. Naim went to a hip hop dance class.

“A Bionicle Offering a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to a Pterydactil”
Aaron Ferris (Pastels, 2012)

Taking a run outside during a break. Unfortunatly, this high school was built during the “ugly cement” dark times of the 70s.

Session 4:

Nik went to a listening workshop, which he said was OK.

I went to a workshop about reading comprehension. All of these workshops were really set at a bar below my knowledge level, so I didn’t learn anything new. However, I think these things are good sometimes to refresh and remind you of what you could be doing. It made me think that I should be having Naim act out the stories he reads and rephrase in his own words as he goes more.

Aaron went to a self-defense class. (Why do al of these swords, bow and arrow, self defense martial arts men act like that? I know you know what I’m talking about.) Aaron was very happy to show us how he could get out of certain holds. And although I think that is useful information, he does what all those guys do, they don’t use it for true self defense, they FIND and SET UP scenarios where they can use it on the offensive. We def need some downtime from all of this fighting mentality.

Naim went to see Teacher Terry from VH for storytelling.

I was walking by above the cafeteria when I caught sight of Aaron’s self defense class. I think it was already at the end, here, though.

Session 5:

Both Nik and I went to listen to a panel of home schooled adults talk. They were very articulate and confident and self aware. Nik liked this best. I brought him because I knew I would have a hard time following along. My only complaint is that although all these people were very interesting and forthcoming, they all knew each other and they all sort of came from the same unschooled philosophy. Part of that is due to their generation, homeschooling has evolved a lot in the last 10 years. These people were still from the fringe hippy era in a lot of ways. Not their fault, I’m sure they got roped in by their parents (most who are still active in OHEN) to do this. But it would have been nice to see a little variety of parenting styles and homeschool styles.

Naim went to a drama class and Aaron went to a science class where they did something with dry-ice.

I did notice how many vendors that are doing online/virtual schools are popping up everywhere. Some are charter, some are private, and a brand new one in Hilsboro is opening that is a true public (Hillsboro Public Schools) option. They are taking after Vancouver and the DLs. I always said homeschoolers would lead the way to public school reform. And that it is all about truly individualizing education. Not sure the depth of the oversight and level of freedom the HPS one will have, but it is interesting to see the public schools moving in that direction. If it is more cafeteria style, I might consider it for the kids if they want to go that route for high school (it is only high school, now.) But if it is replicate school at home, we can do better than that. (Interesting that public schools are realizing that the worst thing about socialization is the public high school itself, and better to get kids out of there.)

Nik got roped into a conversation with guys at ITT Tech. (At the bigger homeschool conventions, there is A LOT of college recruitment going on. Colleges LIKE homeschoolers, believe it or not. But this was small potatoes, so there was just places like ITT and PCC, PSU etc.

In general, it was a good day, not terrific but good. I would go again. Because it is a fairly inexpensive way to spend time, the kids had a lot of fun and I like wandering around and talking to vendors, looking at used curriculum fairs, etc. The workshops I could take or leave, but that is kind of a crap shoot whether you pick good ones or not. It was interesting to watch the kids, who were totally in their element here. Compared to Trackers where they struggled a bit. These were their people, they walked into four classes of strangers with a  strange teacher and not a clue what to expect, and they did that confidently and enjoyed themselves. I even think Avery had fun. It is also fun to see all the worried little “homeschool virgins” or those who are considering homeschool and see how they get more and more relieved throughout the day as they discover that we are not all weirdos, our kids are normal, and actually do quite well. So for that alone, you need to occasionally put your time in and take a day for the cause.

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