Today was the last day of the Global Home Education Conference 2018. Once again it was a full day with big crowds and lots of sessions and workshops. The plenary sessions in the morning had several inspirational speakers focused on the role of the family in education. Dr. Alan Carlson pointed out how throughout history until just recently, the family was the fundamental unit of society – not the individual. He debunked the notion of American rugged individualism and showed how America was really founded on strong families. Dr. Antonov from Russia echoed his emphasis on the family and cited Dr. Carlson’s work in the development of the Russian policies on families that were established after the fall of the Soviets. Another interesting talk during the plenary session this morning was from Archpriest Smirnov of the Russian Orthodox church. He also talked about the role of family in the care and teaching of children. At one point he said that the school system is “anti-human.” It destroys the character and soul of the students – essentially dehumanizing them.
In fact there has been a strong religious orientation in this conference, more so than in the other GHEC conferences. That is not to say that there were no atheists and agnostics present. There were several and they let it be known. But even with them, and with the religious speakers, including those of both Christian and Muslim faiths, we all were agreeing on the value of home education, the rights of parents to homeschool their children, and the importance of the love of parents for their children – which is manifested in their decision to home school.
A wide spectrum of teaching styles were presented today in the plenary and workshop sessions. Unschooling was on display as several prominent unschoolers presented their perspectives. At the other end of the spectrum were workshops discussing the national curriculum and standardized tests that are used in Russia. In the middle were presentations by three of the primary sponsors, Apologia, Classical Conversations and Institute for Excellence in Writing. But there were also many practical, nuts and bolts workshops on topics like socialization, extended family and community, costs and budgets, and special parallel session after lunch for men and women. In each of the sessions there were panels of both Russian speakers (usually a Russian homeschooler) and international speakers (primarily from the USA and Canada). This provided both an “on-the-ground” perspective and a voice of experience. Altogether, over 100 people spoke at the two locations.
I have talked about the Russian moms and dads here with the kids in the strollers. But there are also many international attendees with their kids here. Quite a few of the international attendees traveled with a teenage son or daughter as a companion. And several families made this a family vacation with all the kids in tow. I know at least one teen was present with her parents and this was her senior trip before graduation. These young people were a great testimony for homeschooling.
The day finished with a hand-off from Alexi and Irina (who is pregnant), our Russian hosts, to Edric and Joy (who is pregnant) the hosts of GHEC 2020 in the Philippines. Start saving your money now and prepare to join us. The conference is open to anyone who wants to come. If you have a student (or if you are a student) consider doing research about homeschooling and presenting your results at the next conference. If you have a heart for ministering to homeschoolers, come and join us. It is expected that there will be many attendees from all over east Asia at the conference in the Philippines. If Russia is any indication, most of them will be newbies who are hungry for the voice of experience and encouragement that we can offer.