I returned Saturday night from the Charlotte Mason Conference and have decided to live her principles by narrating the conference in a series of blog posts. I cannot think of a better place to start than the science of relations! I spent June 5 and June 6, working behind the scenes as an able-bodied extra hand, and June 7, 8, and 9, enjoying the workshops.
Last year, a professional organization, SoundWord, recorded the plenary and breakout sessions at the conference and sold them for $5-8 per recording. Due to a scheduling conflict, SoundWord could not record this year and ChildLightUSA ended up purchasing recording devices to record the sessions themselves. I can foresee a couple of glitches because this is the first year and a few of the presiders, those responsible for running the equipment could have experienced operator error (I had a couple of nervous moments myself, worrying I might have recorded over something). Assuming most of the recordings went well, the big question is whether to charge for the recordings and, if so, whom to charge. . . After all, the theory goes why attend the conference if you can download the recorded sessions free.
Part of the charm of the conference for me is the science of relations. I think I would go anyway to allow me to connect names with faces, rekindle friendships from previous conferences (Deb L. where were you?), fellowship with kindred spirits, and receive validation from professional educators who see the wisdom of Charlotte Mason's principles. Since I live in a small town and am probably the only one interested in her philosophy, I cannot have a conversation about our educational choices without explaining who Charlotte Mason was, what narration is, what living books are, etc. What a joy to talk real time to people who get it!
I have to share a funny experience. I think we all form mental pictures of people we have never met in real life, but chat with in cyberspace. When I first met Leslie Noelani Laurio last year, I was not surprised one bit: she is of Hawaiian ancestry and I expected long brown, flowing hair. The big surprise for me was meeting Dawn "Excelsior Warriors" Taylor. The term warrior gave me the vision of a Viking queen with long, flowing blonde hair with perhaps a Tolkien elvish aura (stop laughing, Dawn; you know I am not the only one). My vision was shattered, but in a delightful way, and now I know this warrior and her warrior princess daughter find refuge in libraries, knit with wooden needles, supplement their reading of the classics with mysteries (and knitting novels), and crave Bojangles cuisine.
I met too many delightful people to mention them all! I was thrilled to find out my apartment-mate and I had many things in common: she has a background in nutrition and my daughter is on a special diet. Her parents faced World War II in Europe as did my mother and mother-in-law. We both think Theodore Roosevelt was an amazing president (and I think she was slightly envious to learn that I shook President Reagan's hand at my graduation and sang on stage with the Naval Academy Glee Club for him on more than one occasion). She is much better at handicrafts than I am, and I was slightly (okay, VERY) envious at her talent with watercolors. After the nature walk on Friday night, she taught me how to do dry brush, I ended up with a big green blob (due to no fault of hers), and she drew a beautiful picture of a yet-to-be-named flower.
I wish I could have spent more time with Bonnie Buckingham, who presided at my two sessions. She was the person who inspired me to try poetry recitation with Pamela one more time in her session on recitation last year. I really appreciated having her preside because she gave people handouts, which distracted me last year. I included video clips of Pamela reciting and I am sure it touched Bonnie's heart to know she gave me the courage to try again!
Cheri Hedden and I enjoyed meeting parents of challenged children--they gravitated toward us because we are the emerging voices of those who have been through the school of hard knocks with our special kids and hope to help others learn from our experience. (Last year, I was the only parent of an autism spectrum child and, this year, I met two other parents!) I spoke about the issue of selecting therapies for more severely challenged children and she shared her vision of Charlotte Mason's answer to individualized education plans. I presided for this presentation, and I think we make a good team. We even met with other families on AOwithLDKids during the processing sessions.
I am sure some people would bail from the conference next year if they thought they could download the sessions free. If you ask me, I think it would be like living in the shadowlands.