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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dominating the Homeschool Circuit

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In the last few years I have been homeschooling I have noticed something becoming a pattern. Perhaps it's always been this way..others who have homeschooled longer would know more than I do about this. I'm going to be very open in this blog post and it's not meant to offend, although I am sure someone will be offended. C'est la vie. If you know me well, you know I am a very open minded person. I used to be a legalist, and God saved me from that. THANK YOU GOD.

I am thankful that I didn't become so bitter as to deny God, like some have. That makes me sad that so many people have been so burned by Christianity that they have totally rejected Christ. After what I have been through I can understand how they feel.

There are Christians, and then there are 'Christians'. The 'Christians' do more harm to one another than anyone else I have ever known. And yet there ARE Christians who are very loving, grace filled people. I like these kind of Christians.

'Christians' who dominate every aspect of your life annoy the 'gehenna' out of me. All's fair in love and war? I don't think so. Just because a group has tons of money to advertise, sell books, CD's etc does not mean they are 'right'. It is their lifestyle they are introducing to the world. They have their freedom to do so. What gets me is this... why do conferences put these wealthy religious zealots in their 'pulpits' to teach and not allow other, more open minded people, teach as well?

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If a homeschool conference allows an open minded (lower income) Christian to teach at the same conference as the 'Christian' who has money backing that conference, the one with the money can manipulate the conference coordinators. And afterall, why would the 'Christian' speakers want the open minded Christians to teach their open minded parenting and education tips among the closed minded narrow way dominating teachings? It would drastically diminish their 'Christian' speaking, book, CD businesses.

So when will the homeschool conferences put a stop to this madness?
Not all homeschoolers are 'patriocentric', 'quiverfull', 'reformers'.

Homeschool companies..please know this.. there ARE other homeschoolers out there that are NOT a part of those movements. Do not let those dominating the homeschool market scare you out of advertising your open minded curriculum, books, teaching materials, and certainly don't let it discourage you about being a homeschool speaker. 

So where are those homeschoolers who are wanting something refreshing? Those who aren't buying into the dominating forum that is sweeping the nation. I know you're out there.

What would YOU like to see in a conference not dominated by right-wing fundamentalists?

I'll start the list and you can add to it:
Open to WOMEN speakers (in other words, not dominated by egotistical men or the women who enable that)
Curriculum that is NOT from fundamentalism
Math books that do NOT teach tithe curses. (oiy)
Allow unschool parents to teach
Parenting teaching that isn't necessarily from 'Christianity' (don't ONLY allow 'Christian' teachers)
Offer the FREEDOM to be DIVERSE
A conference that does not support or allow materials that teach whipping children with rubber tubing.

What say you?

*disclaimer: I have the freedom to say what I'm looking for in a homeschool conference and what I don't want in a homeschool conference. So if you're here to try and berate me into removing this post, you're in for an ear full of my rights to exercise MY freedom.

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32 kind words:

Dawn February 8, 2011 at 10:45 AM  

I would even go so far as to say that the vast MAJORITY of homeschoolers are not legalistic, quiverfull, reformed movement families. They couldn't be. There are too many hundreds of thousands of homeschoolers in the US for even the majority of them to be this way. The trouble is that THOSE families, THOSE companies, THOSE loudest voices are the ones that get press, they get promoted, and they are SEEN. No one notices my kids and I unless we're out during school hours. We don't wear matching outfits, our girls wear makeup (GASP) and jeans (OH MY) and my husband and I balance our parenting and marriage by one another's skills and strengths rather than our gender and legalism.

What would I like to see? Freedom at conferences, as you said. More female speakers who aren't under the wing of legalism. Maybe some single parents, or working parents, to really tell us the nitty gritty of how they live and homeschool too. How about realism?

I am a Bible-believing Christian in a major denomination, and I have no patience for fundamentalism, especially at a conference that I go to for support and information on homeschooling my kids. Let God be glorified by not silencing the supposed minority! The Pharisees may have been the loudest and had the highest profile, but their position was wrong. The legalists are NOT the majority, they just make more noise than the rest of us, and put on a good show. White washed tombs indeed.

Sarah Mae February 8, 2011 at 10:46 AM  

Hi Lisa, :)

I'm just wondering where you get your information about the money. Are you saying the big homeschool conferences choose speakers based on what they pay them? I've heard that tables at homeschool conferences are only around $100.

Sisterlisa February 8, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

Sarah Mae, each conference varies. I looked into getting tables at a few conferences when I was building up Growing in Grace Magazine. The prices astonished me. Notice how very few conferences actually put their table and advertising prices out to view by the public.? ;)

Relevant was the most reasonable priced sponsor opportunity I found. Keep it simple my friend :)

Sisterlisa February 8, 2011 at 11:06 AM  

Dawm I agree..there are more open minded people out there... We need to find them. I'm tired of the other stuff flooding the market. I'm searching for gold in a sea of garbage. When I find it..we'll celebrate and help spread the word.

Eric February 8, 2011 at 11:21 AM  

If anyone wants a speaker and/or worship leader for their homeschool conference, I'm available!


thatmom February 8, 2011 at 12:32 PM  

Lisa, this is an important topic. I don't know what the rules are or the standards might be everywhere but I can tell you what I do know about some conferences and conference speakers.

There is a pretty tightly controlled group that oversees the typical homeschooling conferences around the country. (My guess is at least half of the ones called "Christian.") Homeschool Legal Defense (HSLDA) offers a homeschooling "leadership" conference each year that sets much of the agenda for the majority of the state homeschooling groups. Those groups "strongly encourage" the smaller groups around their states to chose from their approved list of speakers. Those speakers typically receive a speaker's fee, room and board, travel expenses, and a free book table or spot to sell their products at the convention site. Sometimes they are also given support people to help at their booths while they speak and talk to customers. The speaker fees are higher the more in demand the speakers are. Josh Harris of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" fame would requests a $25,000.00 fee to speak for a weekend that would include a youth conference and a couple keynotes. VF speakers get around $5000.00 and up. I cannot prove these things to be true but someone I know who was in charge of those arrangements in her group told me those numbers a few years ago. There is quite a bit of money involved in sales, too. One group of siblings who publish a Bible study for girls had sold about half a million $ in books a few years back and were highly requested speakers while in their teens and early twenties.

The big Cincinnati Expo conference which had about 14,000 attendees last year has expanded to 4 conference sites this year and intends to expand even further. Part of their agenda was to counteract some of this control over speakers but then last year they included Doug Phillips, too. I was really disappoined to see that they have done that again this year. It looks like something for everyone.

As far as a "fair and balanced" voice getting in, prehaps you can speak or give workshops if you don't say anything negative about the patrios. However, I have sent information to three different groups, even offering to come at no charge to do workshops on mom encouragement and haven't received a much as a response letter. I know that there are people who would respond positively because of my podcast audience size if I had the oportunity to speak. But I am anathema in these settings because I have spoken out against the sacrosanct FIC and patriarchy teachings. I always feel really bad that unwitting pastors will encourage church families to attend these conferences, only to be told that they need to leave their churches and attend FIC's. You wouldn't believe the number of hits my articles on the FIC get on Sunday evenings after a homeschooling conference is held where this is encouraged. And you wouldn't believe the sad pastor stories from these poor buys whose churches are turned upside down by those who came under the Voddie Baucham spell etc.

In the series of podcasts I did on patriarchy last year (2010) I included a review of the agenda of the HSLDA leadership conference and what the speakers told groups to target at their conventions. I also have a link for anyone who wants to purchase the recordings themselves from that conference to verify what I have said. I do not believe the average convention attendee has any clue what the agenda is that is coming down from the top to these conventions. There agenda has little to do with homeschooling. It is all about FIC, closing down DCFS, shutting down public schools, taking women's rights away, etc.

Sisterlisa February 8, 2011 at 1:34 PM  

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Karen.

I have received letters from pastors asking me about specific bloggers and their circles, when their church members had their children totally disrupting their families with legalism. They said that they wanted to contact me because I used to blog with some people that I was no longer blogging with. They asked me what these people were teaching. It was sad to hear that teen girls were choosing to follow the legalism of these bloggers and reject their grace filled parents as 'heretics'.

I am seeing the same push in the homeschool circuit as I see in many churches. Just as you said, there's an agenda to make people believe and live like they do.

I have no problem at all when a family says 'this is why we live this way' but when they say 'this is how GOD wants YOU to live' that's where I draw the line. Each person has their own unique walk with God. If a family allows their girls to wear jeans that's their business. If a family chooses to use the state funded curriculum, so be it!

As for the homeschool vs public school debate goes, it's a personal choice. I used to think (in my legalism days) that homeschool is the ONLY way, but I dropped that. People have the freedom to choose their education. If we can't allow people to choose public school, then how can we expect others to allow us to choose homeschool? Freedom goes both ways. And those who are being manipulated to choose one over the other, whose rights and freedoms are being stripped from them, I can understand them putting their foot down and speaking up about it.

We shouldn't have to be made to feel like 'Silence DoGood' just to speak up about how we feel.

Michelle February 8, 2011 at 3:42 PM  

Am I the only one who hasn't attended a Homeschool conference!:-)

Seriously, every time I've thought about going to one, I ended up not making it for one reason or another.

I knew a mom who went to one and she said that she was the only person there who wasn't wearing a denim jumper. (I got rather turned off for a while)

I know that's no longer true, but it's sad what you have had to go through, Lisa.

Perplexing; but sad, considering that most home schoolers are not fundies, therefore it's hard to understand how such materials could be so wildly popular.

I do like some materials that are written by authors that might be pegged fundies, but I find that I have to sift through and sort a lot between what I agree with and what I don't. One book on organizing made me feel like such a failure, (even though it wasn't the author's intentions) that I had to put it away.
{Try having sporadic health and following a strict schedule:( }

I have my own issues with legalism that make my blood boil, but this is clearly not the place to rant:)

I hope things get better for you!

Much love in Christ!

Sisterlisa February 8, 2011 at 3:47 PM  


That would be great. Do you sense this coming up? I mean..seriously.. a shift in the homeschool paradigm.. We need more balanced teaching. You'd be great.

Sisterlisa February 8, 2011 at 3:48 PM  

I can't 'sort through' some stuff anymore. I was rescued from legalism and it's very difficult for me to read that kind of stuff anymore.

Joy February 8, 2011 at 5:48 PM  

Loved this. definitely agree with you. :)

carriejoy February 8, 2011 at 6:48 PM  

I'd REALLY like for conferences to give us "nitty gritty" hands on in the trenches stuff. Sue Patrick's workbox system for instance. I don't think it's for everybody, but that sort of 'how to' can be SO HELPFUL! Also seeing how people make a "box" curriculum work for their different learners would be helpful. Encouragement for moms/wives whose husbands are not so "engaged" or perhaps are quite controlling (ie over engaged)... MANY things, but truly "doctrine" outside of accepted orthodoxy (ie Jesus died for our sins, we're all sinners needing salvation by grace type of orthodoxy) just doesn't have a place there. If we were going to a car mechanic's conference, we'd expect to get thigns that made us better mechanics...

kiwiaussie February 8, 2011 at 7:17 PM  

Wow. I never realised that speakers were charging such huge sums to speak at conferences. Jesus never charge anyone a cent to speak to them. And he found his own way of getting to the venues too!.
I got into the whole legalistic lifestyle through friends in the homeschooling movement. I had no idea how infiltrating it all was!
Thank you for sharing your information. As someone who is just feeling my way out of the dark, it is invaluable!

wysiwyg February 8, 2011 at 7:35 PM  

Hi there! I found you via 5 kids and a dog. What you say is very true. I would love to see diversity at home school conferences. I have learned some great truths from people who are nothing like myself. We can all benefit from other's perspectives. We are not all from the same mold nor should we try to be. I hope the patriocentricity "craze" will end sometime soon. It's so damaging and takes quite awhile to detox from it. But God is good and is ever so patient. I am very glad for the internet and blogs since there isn't too much to tempt me to the conferences these days. Been there, done that, never going back! Blessings to you. Love your blog!

Sandra February 8, 2011 at 7:51 PM  

Michelle, you are NOT the only one! I have never attended a conference on homeschooling either and I've been doing this for over a decade. I "officially" considered us homeschoolers when my first child was preschool-age and she is going to start high school in 6 months.

So, while I can't speak to what is de rigeuer at conferences, I know what questions people keep asking me:

Q what skills/qualifications do you need to be a good homeschooler?
A a parent who actually ENJOYS hanging out with her (his) kids all day, every day. And liking to facilitate what their kids are doing/learning/trying is a pretty close second.

Q who shouldn't homeschool?
A parents and children whose relationship is more about "sharpening" (like flint on steel) unless both parties are committed to working through that. families who can't commit the time and energy to a relationship with EACH of their kids that would at least equal the time and attention the kid would get at school.

Q what if I can't/don't want to spend $$$$ on boxed curriculum?
A make it up as you go, online resources, free resources in the community (I have never spent more than $500/semester total for both kids on stuff I wouldn't have bought anyway whether they homeschooled or not. You don't have to spend a fortune.)

Q how do I know what (if any) curriculum to use?
A try a bunch and see what you like. borrow from friends, use sample lessons online. no program is set in stone. You can always dump what doesn't work and try a different approach.

Q what if it doesn't work?
A then change it up. Try new curriculum, or no curriculum, classes outside the home, charter schools or OMG public school. (We have run the gamut at our house from boxed currculum to unschooling, charter schools, montessori, waldorf schools, and next year we will try public high school. We kept what worked, when it worked, and moved on when it didn't work so well anymore.)

Eric February 8, 2011 at 8:09 PM  

I can't say much about the current homeschool movement in general; I haven't really been that involved in it since I graduated and went off to Moody. In my contacts with Christians and homeschoolers online and off, though, there is a very growing and increasingly vocal discontent with the excesses of the past few decades. Witness the runaway popularity of sites like QD, Internet Monk, Stuff Christians Like.... There's definitely people willing to listen!

Sisterlisa February 8, 2011 at 8:15 PM  

Sandra, thank you for your advice. :)

Sandra February 8, 2011 at 8:26 PM  

Edit: that was ONE semester that I spent $500. Usually I spend waaaaay less on "school stuff".

westoftexas February 9, 2011 at 10:16 AM  

I've never attended a homeschool conference. I can't imagine anything more boring. And although I'm committed to homeschooling my kids at this point, I certainly don't think it's best for everyone. Because I live so far out in the middle of nowhere, I'm glad I have the online community, otherwise I wouldn't have a community at all, but I read most blogs and take them with a grain of salt.

I love your blog and I hope you're finding like minded people who support you. It sounds like you've had to sift through a lot of haters this year.


Michelle February 9, 2011 at 1:13 PM  

Actually Lisa,

I should have articulated that a bit better. I don't normally read books that I have to work hard at sifting through(anymore) What I meant was that I have occasionally read certain books by those authors that have little to do with their legalistic ideas.

I wish I could give you an example, but I don't like to mention names.

I stay away from the hard core, popular ones though. My soul shrivels up when I read anything from them, and who likes to feel like a raisin!?

Sisterlisa February 10, 2011 at 10:23 AM  


you said "I hope the patriocentricity "craze" will end sometime soon. It's so damaging and takes quite awhile to detox from it." and I totally agree. I was in a church for almost 15 years that drilled me with all kinds of legalistic teachings. It has taken me 2 years to decompress and I'm still sorting through some old mindsets that try to keep me in bondage.

Part of the problem with all this is tat people are generally afraid to speak up about it. Look what happened when people spoke up about the Pearl's after the Schatz girl died. And from what I have seen, anyone who 'dares' openly reject that patriocentric movement gets bashed and belittled by their popular bloggers. Some bloggers even received emails from some of them adamantly insisting they remove their blog posts. AS IF!

The shunning and rebuking from legalists is HARSH. Let the LOVE and GRACE shine brighter. No need to keep it under a bushel eh? Jesus didn't come to broadcast the LAW on a hill, but the LIGHT!

Sisterlisa February 10, 2011 at 10:24 AM  

Michelle, (West of Texas) yes I have had to sort through some haters. And I'm glad to have gotten through it all. Imagine how many other people need support to get passed all that. Thank you for your kind words.

I drive my tractor in pearls... February 10, 2011 at 10:36 AM  

WOW - I do not know where you homeschool, but I am blessed that what you describe is not the norm of those I have come in contact with concerning homeschooling.

What I love about our convention here in OK is that if you dropped these families in the mall, it would be hard to pick out the homeschooling families by and large.

Normal people, kind, loving Jesus and letting you love Him too and leaving you two to decide how that should be....

The Community of women I have found are loving, supportive and want what works best for my family even if it differs from theirs.

I hate that this isnt everyone's experience!

Thats not to say I havent encountered those that you describe here, but they are few and far between and easily avoided ;)

God bless - Pearls

Sisterlisa February 10, 2011 at 10:44 AM  

Jesus brought grace and mercy.. a conference about Jesus should be about the same things. :) not the 'law'.

A homeschool conference should be about education. Let the families educate their own kids about their faith.

If it's a Christian conference, then allow all sorts of denominations the opportunity to speak about how their faith influences their homeschool.

The 'one way' mentality is what causes a lot of divisions. And if we don't "buy" into their 'one way' and even 'worse' if we speak openly against it, it causes problems. But it's not the free speaking people causing problems, it's the people who are insistent on forcing people to conform to their way.

Sisterlisa February 10, 2011 at 10:49 AM  

"As someone who is just feeling my way out of the dark, it is invaluable!" I know how you feel sister!

Sisterlisa February 10, 2011 at 10:50 AM  


I don't like to name specific blogs causes such a fiasco. That oughtta tell ya something about those who get so miffed when people speak freely. ;)

wysiwyg February 10, 2011 at 10:57 AM  

Yes, what a journey it is to come out of that stuff. I've been in it my whole life in one form or another and it has only been in the last three years that I've been able to find some true peace. Hard and painful but now I can look back and see God's hand in it all. Don't understand the "why" completely yet, but do we ever?

From my view, another huge problem is with the spiritual self righteousness that almost always comes with the Pat. view. You don't even know you have it but the idea that you have found some sacred truth that others haven't seen yet is your ultimate "comfort" when you are confronted with someone who disagrees with you. You just learn to pray for their "blinders" to come off so they will see the "biblical principles" they are not following. I say this not to judge anyone else in particular (lest I be accused of gossip/slander) but this is how I use to be. Horrible judgmental life but it's the only outcome when you are taught these things since forever.
Anyways, there is much work to do to undo damage but if there are enough people who can shed light (and still stay humble-that's important) there is hope yet!

Michelle February 10, 2011 at 11:06 AM  

You're probably tired of hearing from me, but you have been so much on my heart lately!
(Maybe it's a pastor's wife thing, i don't know)

I am praying for God to heal your heart over the pain you've experienced. We just had a couple start attending our church who have come from a legalistic church.

The husband actually called my pastor husband and asked if it "was OKAY to miss a Tuesday night Bible study because his wife had a bad day and he wanted to be with her! Can you believe it?!

I just cried (and thought of you) My husband was floored that this man was under such a control freak that would make him feel he must call and ask permission!

Hen Jen February 14, 2011 at 11:26 AM  

I agree with your post, I am a Christian, pretty conservative in some things...but we stopped going to homeschool conventions a decade ago. The two big things at the time for me, were the no babies except lapbabies- which undermined nursing, my baby was crawling but, gasp- still nursing. The other thing was the charter school issue, charter school setups are different in different states, but the conference speakers were painting them all the same, and as evil. I have been part of homeschool charters, and have been independent, but I really couldn't handle the judgment being dished out and the shunning being encouraged at the convention. Yes, I would love a more open convention, with speakers talking about broad educational methods- like classical education, teaching writing..instead of just how to use one curriculum.

Sisterlisa February 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM  

Check out Sally Clarkson. She has an incredible grace filled blog for homeschooling and is faith-fully-sound ;)

Sally's personal blog I Take Joy
and her family/homeschool ministry,

WholeHeart Online

Sisterlisa February 15, 2011 at 2:28 PM  

Michelle, I totally understand how your new church member feels. Thankfully we don't feel that need to 'check in' if we don't show up. We have a gathering in our home each week. And via our new ministry, we visit other churches that we know will welcome us any time even if we never become 'members' there. :)

Sisterlisa February 15, 2011 at 2:29 PM  

Hen Jen, I am getting the feeling that we will see a shift in this paradigm. :)

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