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Homeschooling and the HSC Conference 2011 in Sacramento

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or similarly glued to the TV watching the Casey Anthony trial, you’ve no doubt heard that I’ll be appearing in all my glory and then some at the 2011 HSC Conference: Adventures in Homeschooling.

homeschool, conference, sacramento

You might be asking why I’m going to a homeschooling conference here in Sacramento when I don’t even have kids.

I’m glad you asked. Apparently, owning children is not a requirement to attend.

Actually, it is because I’m leading NOT zero, NOT one, but TWO workshops on blogging and writing. More specifically, one of them is about writing more engaging blog posts and is very related to my recently published book: Sticky Readers: How To Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better. The other is about writing How To articles.

Also? Rumor has it that if I’m lucky, I may spot those elusive extremophiles in homeschooling:

The Unschoolers.

(GASP!)

Dun-dun-DUHHHHN!

They say the light has to be just right, and if you do spot one, do not make any sudden moves, and you can’t look directly at them, it’s more of a thing where they appear in a shimmery glow out of the corner of your eye. You can’t quite see them, but you know they’re there. And if this happens to me down one of those dark hallways when I’m alone during the conference sneaking my fourth double-fudge brownie, I will ask them that burning question that’s been on my mind for a long, long time:

What the heck is “unschooling”??

I hear this is the biggest homeschool conference in the country, drawing 1,000 people each year. It’s a big family thing, held August 4-7 at the Radisson Hotel, where the kids organize and run their own conference alongside the adults.

I don’t suppose you or anyone you know is going?

HSC Conference 2011 sacramento

This conference will also have a bookstore. With books. Including mine. Woo hoo! My book is currently available in a Kindle version, and just recently released in paperback. Sticky Readers has its very own super exciting website now, too! I can’t believe no one had already taken stickyreaders.com. It’s like I coined the phrase myself or something.

I was going to wait to tell you until the paperback was available specifically on Amazon. (It’s currently only available in my “eStore”), but I’ve got ants in my pants and who knows, maybe by the time you read this, it WILL be available on Amazon. If the paperback is available on Amazon, then I’ll probably remove this paragraph, the one you’re reading right now, because it will be moot. So do a search on Amazon for “Sticky Readers” and see if both the paperback and Kindle version come up. If they do, let me know so I can remove this paragraph.

This paragraph (okay this is a new paragraph, so the previous paragraph…and well this one, too, actually) are just between you and me, got it? If you go to the police and report these paragraphs missing I will deny everything. Besides, I know the chief and wouldn’t he be interested in knowing that you have been known to edit your own posts after publication?

sticky readers, write better blog posts, blogging 101

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23 Comments

  1. [...] a picture of Sarah Cook (of Raising CEO Kids) and me. I met Sarah at that Homeschool Conference a couple of weeks ago and then she appeared at the blogger panel today. Sarah is so nice… I [...]

  2. [...] a picture of Sarah Cook (of Raising CEO Kids) and me. I met Sarah at that Homeschool Conference a couple of weeks ago and then she appeared at the blogger panel today. Sarah is so nice. I wonder [...]

  3. Anonymous says:

    God bless those folks who can homeschool their kids.  I know I’d never haVE been able to do it.  I didn’t have the discipline.

    Oh, and I just bought your book for my Kindle.

  4. Wendy, the elusive unschooler says:

    We are an unschooling family. Guess what, Cybershaman? I dun figgered out how the scary internets werk. Even here in the backwoods of South Carolina.
    I’m not unschooling my children because I want to shield them from anything. I’m doing it because I want them to experience life has to offer.  Somehow, I just don’t see that happening sitting at a desk all day, under artificial lighting, and surrounded by a bunch of people who happen share similar birthdays. Not to mention the fact that you will get in trouble if you talk to one of your birthday peers.
    I do see quite a bit of sheltering in the Christian school-at-home homeschool world. I’ll give you that
    I’ve got to go now so I can order your book, Margaret. I’ve been blogging for years, but my old blog started getting stale. I just started a new one. If I could be 1/10th as good as you are I’ll be happy :)

    1. Hello, Wendy.  Cybershaman, here.  I apologize if I gave you the impression that I either directly or indirectly offended you in some way.  Believe me when I say, that was not my intent.  While I am quite passionate concerning my stand with regard to what I see to be a disturbingly significant, but not the entire, portion of parents wishing to homeschool their children, I am always open to rational discussion.

      I do have to take issue with your statement about wanting your children to experience all that life has to offer.  I am sorry if your impression of public, or any group, schooling is that of harsh lights, sitting at desks around people of a similar age.  While I think that the U.S. school system could use some improvement, I think it can be argued that there have been many improvements in the years since we were in school.  While I’m sure that these are some of the better examples, the schools out there who are really trying to make a difference in the education of our children seem to offer an engaging and comfortable environment that provides a smoothly challenging environment for learning amongst one’s own peers.  With that in mind, even if a school was less than perfect, what sort of environment do you desire your children to successfully enter?  It might be sad to think about, but, it would seem to me that many areas of employment today consist of situations where people of similar working age often work under harsh lighting under the tutelage of older “teachers” (upper management).

      Also, I’m not sure I entirely understand how one could get in trouble for talking to one of your birthday peers.  Do you mean talking out of turn in class?

      I want you to know that I am approaching your comment in the most delicate manner possible.  For some reason, I think you might actually be feeling the same concern/pain that I feel.  Did you too have a not too “ideal” schooling experience while growing up?  If so, I am very, very sorry.  I guess I just need some clarification on a few points you were trying to make.

      Again, I am very interested in Margaret’s impressions about her experiences at the conference.  You have to give her credit for subtly tackling some VERY serious subjects  via what on the surface appears to be a innocuously humorous blog.  While she maintains that light hearted manner that we all love so much she still has a firm voice with a significant amount of punch.  Case in point, her recent post about “bath salts” (http://www.nannygoatsinpanties.com/2011/05/bath-salts-theyre-not-just-for-breakfast-any-more.html).

      Once more, I’m sorry if I offended you in any way, Wendy.  I have several friends “down South” and from various “backwoods” and I count them as some of my closest, and most intelligent!, friends.  Take care, and keep on blogging!  :)

    2. Hello, Wendy.  Cybershaman, here.  I apologize if I gave you the impression that I either directly or indirectly offended you in some way.  Believe me when I say, that was not my intent.  While I am quite passionate concerning my stand with regard to what I see to be a disturbingly significant, but not the entire, portion of parents wishing to homeschool their children, I am always open to rational discussion.

      I do have to take issue with your statement about wanting your children to experience all that life has to offer.  I am sorry if your impression of public, or any group, schooling is that of harsh lights, sitting at desks around people of a similar age.  While I think that the U.S. school system could use some improvement, I think it can be argued that there have been many improvements in the years since we were in school.  While I’m sure that these are some of the better examples, the schools out there who are really trying to make a difference in the education of our children seem to offer an engaging and comfortable environment that provides a smoothly challenging environment for learning amongst one’s own peers.  With that in mind, even if a school was less than perfect, what sort of environment do you desire your children to successfully enter?  It might be sad to think about, but, it would seem to me that many areas of employment today consist of situations where people of similar working age often work under harsh lighting under the tutelage of older “teachers” (upper management).

      Also, I’m not sure I entirely understand how one could get in trouble for talking to one of your birthday peers.  Do you mean talking out of turn in class?

      I want you to know that I am approaching your comment in the most delicate manner possible.  For some reason, I think you might actually be feeling the same concern/pain that I feel.  Did you too have a not too “ideal” schooling experience while growing up?  If so, I am very, very sorry.  I guess I just need some clarification on a few points you were trying to make.

      Again, I am very interested in Margaret’s impressions about her experiences at the conference.  You have to give her credit for subtly tackling some VERY serious subjects  via what on the surface appears to be a innocuously humorous blog.  While she maintains that light hearted manner that we all love so much she still has a firm voice with a significant amount of punch.  Case in point, her recent post about “bath salts” (http://www.nannygoatsinpanties.com/2011/05/bath-salts-theyre-not-just-for-breakfast-any-more.html).

      Once more, I’m sorry if I offended you in any way, Wendy.  I have several friends “down South” and from various “backwoods” and I count them as some of my closest, and most intelligent!, friends.  Take care, and keep on blogging!  :)

  5. T.J. says:

    How interesting it will be- have a great time!

    And how many books can you write at once- holy moly you are amazing!!!!

  6. mcmerb says:

    Very nice gig, Margaret – wish I could be in the audience to listen and learn! Only thing . . . try not to rub elbows with the intellectuals so much that you come back to us all proper and schoolmarmish, OK?  :)

  7. Nicky says:

    Congratulations Margaret! A speaking engagement AND the paperback…you are totally going to blow us off now that you’re a celebrity, right?

  8. Cybershaman says:

    As an opponent of homeschooling (except in certain situations) I would be interested in hearing your impressions of the conference.  Before I get vilified, it needs to be said that my sister and I went through a few educational “experiments” which culminated in my little brother being homeschooled.  My sister and I were subjected to a wonderful system known as ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) which consisted of the students sitting all day in small cubicles and basically teaching and grading themselves through the use of booklets called “paces”.  When we finally moved to an area that didn’t have such a school, my sister and I went to a conventional private Christian school and even there we were found to be at best 2 years behind the other students.  Because my sister and I turned out to be such “failures”, my parents decided to homeschool my little brother.  Needless to say, after overcoming many social integration hurdles and having to relearn many things on our own, my sister is the only one to have, through great effort, finally earned a 4 year degree through an online college…at the age of 36.  We have all witnessed many of our peers homeschooling their children, not because they deem the public schools inferior, but because they want to shelter their children from the “evils” of the world.  The majority of these children went on to enroll in “religious” colleges in the hopes that the bubble that they were raised in would extend even further.  What sort of careers did these kids aspire to?  Missionaries, ministers and anything else that might have a glimmer of extending the bubble to its limits…

    We live in an interesting time.  We are just recently seeing the first generation of children entering college who have never known a world without computers or at the very least some sort of device in the house that has access to the internet.  As I throw up the cautionary flag based on my own personal experience, I have to keep in mind that the internet will be the ultimate bubble burster.  It is no wonder, Margaret, that you are being invited to this event.  They HAVE to have people like you there.  Otherwise the parents, who themselves are probably still even now struggling with this “new” Internet thing, will take their business elsewhere as they search for the ultimate Cliff Notes on how to educate a child enough for them to get a GED certificate.

    Like I hinted at before, there are certain situations when homeschooling is the only option.  Families that move often are the only thing that really comes to mind.  But I think the parent’s motives must really be questioned.  It has been my experience that more often than not that they are trying to shield their children from something.  However, like I said before, with the advent of the Internet, even the “shielding” aspect of homeschooling will no longer be a viable option.  What worries me is what is going to happen when that segment of the homeschooling customers who have specifically sought out this shielding, and let’s be frank, censoring, aspect of the program realize this.  This might sound crazy but mark my words: keep an eye out for a heightened focus from these companies on parental control software or even a special homeschooling membership only “portal” to the internet a la AOL’s old vision of a walled garden version of the Internet where only approved sites could be visited.  Yep, call me crazy now but I’m pretty sure that that will be their only recourse.  As I said before, the majority of the people wishing to homeschool their kids aren’t just moving around a lot or worried about the quality of America’s education system.  Let’s just see how they handle this Internet thing…

    Again, Margaret, I would be interested to hear about your impressions and observations during the conference.  Especially from the dark and shadowy Unschoolers.

    I apologize for the lengthy post and I hope I haven’t offended anybody.  I just tell it like it is and how I’ve seen it.  Maybe my experience and what I’ve seen others around me do is somehow unique.  However, I just want to be a voice of caution.  That’s much better than being the shadow behind the shadow of the Unschoolers…an Un-UN-Schooler that requires TWO blacklights placed at 90 degree angles to see and a smoke machine…  Oh, yeah…  I NEED a smoke machine, Margaret.  I don’t think that they are THAT expensive, right?  Hehehehehe…  ;)

    Take care, everybody.  NGIP rocks!  :)

    1. Jean says:

      You ‘sound’ as if you managed to get a pretty good education in spite of all the hardships you endured.  If I could turn back time, my children would never have set foot inside a public school.   Before people get their knickers in a wad, I know that the public school system is full of very smart students – but I’d be willing to bet the farm that it’s because of caring parents at home working diligently with them.

    2. That is a VERY interesting comment… I am interested in how the conference turns out!  I’ve heard very weird stories of home schooling, and know one family that says, “Oh we don’t teach them math, we figure they will pick up on that somewhere in their lives”… but I also know other home schoolers that are amazing.

    3. @Jean @Katherine  Hi, guys.  Cybershaman, here.  I want you guys to know that I clicked on the “Like” button for each of your responses.  With so many online personas, it’s hard to remember sometimes who you are logged in as!  ;)

      @Jean  You know what?  I’m one of those people who didn’t go to college proper and instead went to the “school of life”.  I know that it’s a cliché but it is really true in this case.  I’ve had several professions ranging from the mundane to the cerebral.  I’ve made it a point to constantly read; not just things off of the Internet, mind you, although that is a valuable skill.  I’ve also traveled fairly extensively; the farthest being a stint in Japan.  So, why, you might ask, did I not go to college?  Well, I’ve been asked that several…HUNDRED…times over the years.  The quickest answer (and I blatantly plagiarize one of my heroes here, Joseph Campbell) is that I regret not doing so and everyone out there should take the quickest road to getting that little piece of paper because after doing so, doors open.  (My sister just did it after several years of hard, hard work and has encouraged me to do the same at 42 years of age)  The best but slightly less short answer that I have is that, due to the religious beliefs of my parents, that is that since the only thing that matters in this life is, well, the afterlife, I was taught that things “of this world” don’t really carry that much weight.  Now, this is odd coming from my father who went to, albeit a “bible”, college.  My mother?  Well, that story is complicated beyond belief.  Let’s just say that while she was super intelligent (I do mean “was”) and I credit her with many of the skills that I have today, including my affinity for all things computer, she unfortunately spiraled into that wonderfully typical religious trap of women being inferior beings and generally just being around to make more humans, preferably of the “man child” variety.  I love and respect her, but she is a mere shadow of the woman I looked up to as a young man…

      Whew.  Now that THAT is out of the way, we can get on with other business…

      Yes, I do think that the public school system in general needs help.  A LOT of help.  But there are good schools out there.  We mustn’t give up and shout “Everyone for themselves!  Circle the wagons!  OUR wagons!”.  The U.S. is falling FAR behind the rest of the developed world in the area of education.  Right now, I don’t want to get into why that is and the umpteen number of ways we could fix that.  But could we try an all or nothing approach to examine this problem?  Can anyone say that it is logical to state that, “Our public schools are failing.  Therefore, all parents should, instead, teach their own children”?  I’m just curious.  I’m actually nervously curious because while no one in their right mind, at least in my honest opinion, would EVER agree to that statement, is that not one of the primary arguments of the most vocal of the homeschoolers out there?  Or the “unschoolers”?  Good lord, in a world where the U.S. is falling so far behind, the solution of these so called “unschoolers” is to…unschool???

      I just have to stop once again and say this:  that if a parent or parental unit, after careful consideration and research, genuinely believes that their children are best served by being educated at home, then they should have the right, and I even dare say this as an atheist, a “god given” right, to teach their offspring at home.  But I just wish that others who are happily and successfully educating their kids in what is luckily for them to be a fine public school in their area, to stop and think for a moment.  Just consider things before they wholeheartedly wish more power to those teaching their kids at home for what might very well be, and let’s be frank, not very sound reasons.  Shouldn’t one think after all of the time and energy that they’ve spent to ensure that their kids are getting the highest quality education, probably higher than they could give, in an environment that hopefully will mimic, at least in miniature, what, in the future, they will have to engage and thrive in with others?  With others who have not just learned “book smarts” but have also learned those things that, although people have tried, can NEVER be printed in a mere book?  Things that cannot be learned and recited by rote, in the hopes that they will just be able to interact, problem solve and collaborate effectively…with others?  As a group?  Collectively?  THESE are the REAL things you learn in school.  The facts are just facts; of course, they are right there in books.  But the homework will someday turn into work that one “brings home from the office” and that office consists of other people working in tandem.  In the real world workplace, how long will things just follow the textbook?  What’s going to happen when skills that should have been learned in grade school where kids work on the same problems together someday suddenly turn into the following?

      “OK, guys.  We’ve got three astronauts who are running out of oxygen and have to make it back to Earth.  They have nothing except what you see on the table before you.  Tell them how to get home alive.”

       I ask this:  If you were one of the astronauts in that scenario, would you like a roomful of individuals who solve problems on their own?  Or would you rather have a team of people who, while all having the same amount of facts, work well together; a group who’s whole is greater than the sum of its parts?

      @Katherine  This is, indeed, a VERY interesting subject!  And I for one am VERY interested in hearing the NGIP-esqe impressions of a certain woman who goes by the name of Margaret as she absorbs and processes these things in her own very unique way.

      Let me just say again:  I am perfectly happy if someone wishes to homeschool their child.  It is just my hope that they do it for the right reasons.  I know that my “right reasons” might not be the same as certain others.  But I believe that they really aren’t all that bad.  I know some parents will actually move to ensure that their kids can get the best education possible.  But I also know that there are many who can’t do that for many reasons.  The local schools might be the worst possible examples of our education system.  There might even be cases where children are regularly mistreated by both their peers AND by those very same people that are supposed to be nurturing them in mind and body.  I just want to make sure that if a child is to be home schooled that it is not because that a certain text book says that it took several billion years for the light from a certain star to reach our Earth or that the lights in the classroom are too bright or that they have to be quiet when someone else is talking.  Perhaps there should be some sort of basic certification that people who wish to teach should pass first?

      Again, teaching is more than just the dumping of facts into a young mind.  It is about learning how to work together, solving problems as a group and helping each other with our strengths where others are weak.  In short, it is about what it means to be human and learning how we all fit into this great melting pot of a planet that we call home. :)

  9. Pricilla says:

    Goats don’t have to go to school. We are born knowing all.

    Except why your book is not available on epub for people like the publicist who have nooks

    1. I am going to see what it will take to get it on the Nook, because you’re not the only one with one.

  10. Yourpalpinki says:

    So excited you’ll be at the Conference! : )

    1. Me too! I’m mostly hoping I don’t throw up before each workshop because of being so nervous. Right now it’s just a distant blur the thought of standing up in front of people and speaking out loud to them while they actually listen to me.

      1. Jayne says:

        You’ll be wonderful, Margaret.  Remember — just picture them all naked.   At least one or two will be doing the same thing to you.  ;)

  11. I can’t even comment on the conference – because I’m too concerned with buying your book, like right now!

    1. Ha! Have I told you lately how much I love you? :)

  12. Thomas C. says:

    Whatever happened to the good old days when if kids didn’t go to school, it was because we were making them work in factories?

    1. I hear ya, brother. They just don’t make ‘em like that any more.