Saturday, November 03, 2007

Thoughts and questions

Time breezes by. My days start early and are over before I know it. When Monday begins, and it seems Friday is here. Days are full to overflowing. I guess I could choose to change things so that I would not bring work home most nights and never on weekends, but if I did, I would cheat the students out of their education. A teacher's work never ends.

I have just come home from a several-day regional conference of Christian educators. Conferences are not new to me. I've gone to home education conferences for years. In recent years, I've attended classical education conferences. But this is the first time I've attended a purely Christian educator conference. And it was HUGE. About 2000 delegates and administrators in a conference center ballroom whose size seemed to rival a football field. The ballroom where the general sessions were held was so large that you could not see the front stage from halfway. Several large screens displayed the activity and the speakers on stage. Josh McDowell was the keynote speaker. The stunning Annie Moses Band performed and led singing every day. The variety of 50-minute seminars available to attend was overwhelming.

Now I have returned, I want to not lose the good stuff but transfer my notes in a legible and intelligible format, yet I have a week of lesson plans to assemble and notes to write before parent-teacher conferences on Friday. Plus, I embarrassingly admit to still having sixteen book reports to grade.

I really don't have time to spend blogging much, or at all, any more, yet I am not willing to give this up. Yet, anyway. I did get a nice (really, really nice) laptop this week which I hope will make life simpler. At least at school I can use it during my study halls to complete lesson plans, make worksheets and study guides, save grades whenever I learn to use Excel. If all that happens like I anticipate, that will leave Saturdays, and maybe a few evenings, freer for me to blog and keep up with my cyber-friends. I miss you all. I miss the good stimulating, and fun, conversations I use to have with you all. "You all" meaning those who I hope still stop by every once in a while!

I do have a little conflict of decision that I would like your thoughts on right now. While at this humongous conference, there was a seminar "What is Classical Education?" that caught my eye. As you probably know, I love classical education. I am completely convinced that it is the BEST approach to education that exists. I taught my four children classically before I realized the method had a name. Then I read everything I could about classical education, honed my skills as a classical educator (the honing ever continues), and even wrote my master's thesis on classical education. While taking some graduate and even undergraduate classes, I used every opportunity to speak and write about classical education. I developed PowerPoint presentations about classical education. I believe in increasing the awareness about and understanding of classical education with every opportunity available. Since taking my current job in a non-classical Christian school, I have continually, but gently, spoken about classical education. I intend to gently push the envelope at this school. Maybe one day, after an understanding develops, the school will adopt this tried and proven method of educating her children.

Keeping all that in mind, I attended the seminar "What is Classical Education?" and encouraged the dozen faculty who attended the conference from our school to go to this seminar also. Only one other attended. I was so disappointed, yet so thankful.

My initial disappointment was that only one other teacher from our school decided to come to this seminar that I thought would be a great way for them to learn about classical education from someone other than me. My greatest relief and thankfulness came at the end of the seminar. I was relieved only one other came. The seminar was awful. It was embarrassing. It was so poorly done. I know I can be hypercritical and I think this is one instance in which I am. I've spent the last ten years immersed in the study of classical education and I expected a high-quality seminar. What was given to a group of probably thirty conference delegates was a rambled mess. Even
I was confused. And I know about this stuff. The overhead transparency sheets that this seminar leader used were confusing. The speaker's commentary never did mesh with either the overhead information or the handouts. The handout sheets were probably the best source of information because they were copies of the trivium stages from another source other than the leader. This leader admitted to not being a public speaker, "I AM a good teacher, but I'm not a good public speaker." Amen to that. Or least at the public speaking part. She is probably a little older than me, has eleven children, homeschooled the last four, taught for a few years in a Christian school in which she implemented the classical method for the entire school.

As soon as this seminar was over, I turned to my fellow teacher and asked if she knew anything about classical education before the seminar. She didn't. Then I asked if she felt that she learned what classical education was from the presentation. She said no. I told her that I was embarrassed that the presentation was such a poor, disconnected introduction to the classical method. I think about the other attendees to this seminar. If this seminar was their first introduction to classical ed, then I have no reason to think that they will ever be persuaded to think further about implementing this wonderful method in their schools.

I honestly filled out and turned in my seminar evaluation form. When I did, I noticed the conference evaluation form still attached to my program book. Within that form was a suggested speaker card. My off-the-cuff reaction was to bluntly suggest myself. I know I could lead a seminar about classical education, and I know I could do a good job. How's that for humbleness!

I did not turn in the suggested speaker card. But since then, I've thought and thought about it. Rather than turn in the form that limits suggestions to brief one-liners, I am seriously considering writing a formal letter with all the information the association needs suggesting myself as a speaker. I would love to do this. And I know, or at least I think I know, that I could do a good job at this. I have had people tell me many times that my enthusiasm for and knowledge of the subject is evident.

So, dear Seasonal Sounding readers, should I? Give me some advice and caveats, please.

I do not anticipate the school in which I am now teaching going to classical anytime soon. In fact, the headmaster said one day to me "This school will never go classical" off the top of his head. I believe that statement was made as a result of ignorance about the subject.

I have never "marketed" myself. But I've never had a passion about something that I feel compelled and capable to push as I do about classical education. Since I'm in the end stretch of my working life, I do not think I have years to wait around to act on this passion. I would like to come to the end of my working life with a satisfaction that I have made a mark in the educational sphere for the good, the true, and the beautiful. I am afraid, though, of getting an imbalance between pride and humility. So I covet the balance that you can give me by way of your thoughts and advice.

Speak on, please!
"In the multitude of counselors there is wisdom."


Kathleen Hamilton said...

Janie, I would certainly write the letter. As to "marketing" yourself, I think that if you know you have the time it would take to do the conference, I would do that as well. You would be such an asset. I'm sorry that the classical education talk was so embarrassing! Unfortunately, much misunderstanding surrounds classical education. I would certainly love to hear you speak on the subject.

Good to hear from you!

Anne said...

Yes, you should do it! I can completely understand how you feel, having been in similar situations and having thought and researched and talked about classical education for years. And I would be shy to turn in the letter, so do it for me! ;-)

Anne said...

That would be "too shy to turn in the letter". Need more coffee.

desert mom said...

I can understand that you want to check yourself for pride--that is a good impulse! However, I think I hear more love and enthusiasm in your desire to speak on classical education than anything else. I'm sure you'd do a great job.

Michelle said...

Yes, please do write the letter! You would do a fantastic job, making the case for classical education. You have so much accumulated wisdom from all your years of homeschooling, plus your own research you've done on classical education.

Petunia said...

I'm in agreement with the others. You don't sound as if you are wanting to do this for an ego boost but out of a genuine passion to educate people about a form of education that strives for excellence. Go for it!

ukrainiac said...

Obviously I don't know you personally, but I have been reading your blog for a while now, and it is quite obvious that you prepare well for WHATEVER you decide to do. I believe you should go for it, and share the excitement and passion you have for classical education. Your enthusiasm will speak volumes!

LaurieLH said...

I am so thankful to be introduced to "you" by magistramater! I am a Christian and teacher (25+ years now) and can tell that I will visit your pages often! As for speaking, let the Lord use you -- each time I have shared, whether at ACSI or as a fellow with the UCLA Writing Project, God has put me in touch with others who become life-long friends. The blessings to those who hear will be great as classical education is a worthwhile topic -- the blessings to you as you see God use you and what you are share will also be meaningful. I hope you don't mind a total stranger encouraging you this way. :)

Peregrina said...

Turn it in! You have a God-given gift for sharing your passion. As to humility...that doesn't mean hiding your talents.