Have you ever wondered where speakers come from? I mean, how do THEY get to stand up and speak THEIR minds? What motivates someone to do what most consider the scariest activity on the planet—speaking to an audience?
Well, I can't answer for most speakers, but I can share a bit of the back story of what propelled me, as a young homeschool mom, onto the platform. . . and how that led me to write my first book, America (one of the Experience History Through Music books).
In 1988, after I had been struggling for about three years with homeschooling (my kids and I were ALL bored!!!), a good friend suggested that it might help if I could attend the state homeschool convention near Seattle. . .
In those days, the main way to learn more about homeschooling was to attend a convention—oh, how times have changed!!
The problem was I couldn't afford it. My husband was a public school band teacher, we were single income, and there simply wasn't anything extra in the budget. When I voiced that practical concern, my friend said, "Oh, you should teach a workshop! If they accept a proposed workshop, they will pay you $50 for speaking, mileage to get up to the convention, and, best of all, you get in FREE!!" Looking at her in amazement, I asked, "What on earth would I teach????"
Did I mention that I had been struggling with homeschooling ever since I started? Wasn't it ludicrous to think of me teaching a workshop on homeschooling so I could afford a convention where I could be taught how to homeschool? A proverbial chicken/ egg situation if ever there was one!
Not recognizing my mental struggle with this dilemma, Joan pulled out the previous year's convention schedule, with its varied workshops, and handed it to me. Quickly glancing down the list, I noted that the ONLY music workshop was using classical music in the home and that there were NO history workshops. At that moment, an idea was born:
Why not teach American history through American folk music?
This combined two of my passions: history and music. As one who loved the stories of history, I had seen how the subject had often been rendered as dry as dust and as forgettable as leftover oatmeal. And, as an instructor of folk guitar, I had noticed that many of my elementary age students had no familiarity with the common songs of my childhood—like Yankee Doodle, Erie Canal, and She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain. When I suggested playing one of these tunes, my students would often look at me with blank faces, because they did not know the songs that had previously been taught as a normal part of school. It had become something of a soapbox issue for me—I wanted to do something to restore folk songs to the curriculum of American children. After all, folk songs are part of our heritage, they give us a sense of who we are and where we came from. . . And, they happen to be a lot of FUN!!
Speaking on your own passion is a good rule of thumb for wannabe speakers. If you love it, others may catch your enthusiasm for the subject.
To my surprise, when I sent a proposed workshop, "History Alive! Through Music," the convention organizers accepted it for the 1989 WHO convention.
That was the start of twenty-five years as a homeschool speaker and, as I'll share in a later post, the start of twenty-five years as a homeschool writer/ curriculum producer.
Never saw it coming, but, oh, what a ride this has been!!