Posted by jlwile on April 23, 2012
I spent the past weekend in Cincinnati, the site of the Midwest Homeschool convention. This was the original Great Homeschool Convention, and it is one of the most popular homeschooling conventions in the nation. As usual, the attendance was huge, and I gave a total of seven talks over a period of 2 and a half days. There was a steady stream of people coming to my booth to ask specific questions, so when I wasn’t giving a talk or answering questions on stage, I was generally answering questions at my booth. It was very busy, but I had a blast!
I got to meet the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys at this convention. These three young men started posting videos of their bedroom practice sessions on YouTube (an example is given above), and because of their incredible talent, the videos almost immediately went viral. The videos have millions of views, and the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys have appeared as musical guests on The Late Show with David Letterman and the Today Show on NBC. In addition, when they appeared on the Mike Huckabee show (Fox News), they were so popular that they were invited back the very next week. They are the only musical guests to appear in back-to-back episodes of that show.
These talented young men are homeschooled, so it was natural for Great Homeschool Conventions to invite them to appear. They gave a great performance, and later on, I happened to be dining at the same restaurant as they were. As a result, it was my honor to meet them personally. Not only are they excellent performers, but they are also genuinely fine young men who have the right priorities in life. They are just another example of what wonderful things can be accomplished as a result of the individuality and flexibility of home education.
Speaking of the amazing things that can be accomplished through home education, one of the talks I gave at this convention is called “What are they Doing Now?” It is one of my favorite talks to give, because I discuss the incredible things that homeschool graduates are doing right now. I start off with statistics, such as the fact that homeschool graduates age 18-24 are more likely to have a college degree, an associates degree, or be working on such a degree than the rest of the population of the same age. In addition, homeschool graduates are nearly twice as likely as their non-homeschooled peers to be involved in an ongoing community service.
I share several statistics like that, but then I start discussing individual homeschool graduates who are doing amazing things with their lives. For example, there’s one who is a covert operative for an intelligence agency. Obviously, I can’t share details about her or the university that she attended, but I do share the fact that she thinks homeschooling prepared her uniquely well for her current line of work. She says not only did it help her to learn independently (something she must continually do as a spy), but it also helped her learn how to interact with all sorts of different kinds of people. She sums up her view of home education this way:
I remember times when we were doing math, and I was in tears; my mom was in tears. But it was so worth it. I have been given such an amazing gift.
In some ways, this is a perfect description of home education. It’s hard. There’s no doubt about that. There are a lot of tears. There’s no doubt about that as well. However, despite the hard times and all the tears, homeschooling is an amazing gift. When I homeschooled my own daughter, there were a lot of tears. However, we both agree that it was the best thing we could have possibly done. It was an amazing gift for me (I got to know her better than I ever would have had she gone to school), and it was an amazing gift for her (she would never have been accepted into or successful at the university of her choice had she not been homeschooled).
So if you are a homeschooled student or a homeschooling parent and all you can think about right now is the tears, remember this: On the other side, you will find that those tears have produced an amazing gift. You can then thank a shadowy spy who is protecting your freedom for reminding you of this important fact!