Imagine asking a doctor, “Do we need doctors?” or a fire fighter, “Do we need fire fighters?” or a museum curator, “Do we need curators?” Of course each would answer, “Yes!” There is a certain subjectivity with an answer framed from the self-interest of continuing their careers, isn’t there? Even though that is obvious, nevertheless, when we stop and look at the question objectively, we agree that there really is a need for doctors, fire fighters and curators.
I bring this up because, frankly, I—along with dozens of other men and women—am a homeschool author and speaker. If all of you stopped coming to conferences, it would greatly impact our ability to continue doing what we do. Even with that honestly out on the table, I’m here to tell you that there really is a need for conferences—and your ability to homeschool will be greatly enhanced by going.
Why attend the NCHE conference? Because, first of all, there is no substitute for experiencing something in person. I appreciate the Internet—I’m so grateful for the amazing things we can discover, learn more about, see images of, listen to, watch and purchase on the worldwide web. Yet, if I have the chance to hear a lecturer in person and ask questions afterwards, if I can watch a cooking demonstration and actually taste the flavors as the food is being cooked, if I can look at a science book and also ask the author to explain his perspective, if I can see a botanical garden and actually walk the grounds, touch the plants, smell the flowers and talk with a horticulturalist—then I have had an authentic, experiential, hands-on (or tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing) adventure that virtual reality does not encompass.
If you go to the conference, you can experience things that are not possible online. You can talk to authors, listen to speakers, meet other homeschoolers, find resources that you would otherwise miss, put your hands on the books you’ve been considering and discover if they are as good as you had hoped and experience what it is to be among thousands of others who are walking the same journey as you.
Secondly, I have learned that there are times I don’t even know what I don’t know.
Let me give you an example of that. If I think I know what education is, but I only know what I experienced as a child in school, I may not stop to ask, “Wait, is that all there is?” Then I will mistakenly think, “Oh, yes, I know what education means. All I need is the right curriculum, the right co-op, the right lesson plans, and then I will achieve my goals.” The reality is far different, isn’t it? Children are incredibly complex, with different learning styles, different developmental stages of growth, different interests and different needs. If I don’t know enough about education to understand that there are varying ways to approach it, then I won’t ask the questions that could unlock an amazingly adventurous, treasure-strewn journey of learning. And once you get started learning about the particulars of education, there is still more to learn. There are nuances and details that you will discover as you look at the incredible resources available in an Book Fair and as you listen to national speakers who have paved the trail before you—with wisdom that comes from going the distance and gaining the perspective of many years of homeschooling.
Should you attend the NCHE Annual Conference? Absolutely! Hope to see you there!