Monthly Archives: July 2015

Charm Offensive

“Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves”—Dale Carnegie

The other day, I visited a church to hear someone I had recently met, a pastor from Russia, give a sermon as the visiting speaker. After the service, the church gave a luncheon for the congregation of 300 or so. Sitting next to me during lunch was the visiting pastor’s daughter, a 15-year old homeschooled girl. As she and I talked, I kept thinking to myself, “Is this girl for real?”

This young Russian had every reason to talk about herself: Already a world traveler who spoke English so perfectly she had to convince people she wasn’t really from California. But, she didn’t talk about herself or her many accomplishments. She talked to me, making eye contact, and asking me one question after another. Appropriate questions, yet very personal questions; questions about me. I thought, “In my more than 7+ decades on this planet, I can count on the fingers of one hand the young people who have engaged me in a conversation that wasn’t about them but was about me.

I had met this girl a few weeks earlier, in Israel. Her family had traveled from Russia on one of my Israel tours. During that time, this girl showed a deep interest in virtually everything she saw and heard (she and Einstein would have been true soul-mates as Einstein was fond of saying, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”).

But this girl went further than even most adults go with her show of interest in the man sitting next to her. She was engaging an older person in a conversation about himself. I was impressed and thought, “Here is a really charming person!”

Years ago, I came across a book entitled How to Win Friends and Influence People. I was intrigued by the simplicity of its message, a message written nearly 100 years ago by Dale Carnegie and whose little book of advice has sold some 15 million copies.

One of the premises of the book is that individuals inherently understand that few others know them well and most don’t really care, anyway (a theme echoed in some of C.S. Lewis’ writings). A person who shows a genuine interest in another’s life gives that other person a wonderful gift. It is a gift of connection and the power of that gift can produce tremendous benefits.

Years ago my wife tried to teach one of our sons the value of conversation, specifically of keeping a conversation alive. She was holding a ball as she began talking to our oldest son. When she finished her point, she tossed the ball to Seth. She told him that he was to respond to her point and then toss the ball back to her. She wanted to know how many times Seth could toss the ball back and forth before he ran out of things to say or before he turned the conversation to something more important to him.

I recommend we teach our children the art of showing an honest and genuine interest in others, especially those who are older than they.  Again, showing a genuine interest in another person gives that other person a gift rarely offered.

I recommend that parents purchase a copy of this inexpensive little book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Read it aloud with your family and discuss its points and how you may apply its insights.

I look forward to seeing this girl’s family again soon. They have charming children which is something rarely found in young people, or any people, for that matter!

And, of course, you can also purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to:

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at

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It’s Taken Far Too Long

It’s taken far too long…

…but the voices demanding educational reform are finally gaining traction with an ever increasing audience. People are listening, nodding their heads, and agreeing with what they hear.

The criticism of government schooling comes from two unlikely allies: On the one hand, internationally recognized educators giving TED talks and, on the other hand, young students exploiting YouTube to criticize their own education, often crudely out of frustration; but, more often quite articulately (for only one example, watch this). As these expressions of reform go viral, let’s hope this small earthquake will produce a tsunami that sweeps away many long-established ideas of how the next generation should be educated.

What are the main issues? They are: 1) Government-run education, as it has long been practiced, is largely irrelevant to the futures of most young people; and, 2) Due to the need for government-run schools to operate efficiently, they ignore the uniquenesses of the individual, uniquenesses which must become an integral part of every student’s education if that education is going to serve him or her as adults.

It is not difficult to predict a major growth in the number of homeschooling families as the culture continues its rapid worldview shift, a worldview increasingly working its way into the public school curricula and which is largely unacceptable to many parents. If you have read any of my previous posts, you will understand why I believe the growth I anticipate will occur largely for the wrong reasons.

As homeschooling grows, many of the nation’s best students will pull out of the government school systems and this will so alarm local and state governments they will begin reacting with ever more punitive measures against homeschooling families.

About 25 years ago, before most of you began homeschooling and before some of you were even born, I commented that homeschooling might eventually become illegal; or, if not illegal, it would become so intensely controlled, only those parents who were homeschooling for the right reasons would put up with the government’s increasing and increasingly intrusive requirements.

My plea to all homeschooling parents is that, in your home, you not replicate the public school in any way. As John Gatto, former New York State Teacher of the Year has said, “Find out what the public school does and do anything else.”

If you want more information about what I share, check out my book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally at You may download Chapter One of this book free at where you can also see a list all of my favorite materials for homeschooling your children.

I am available for fee-based homeschool coaching. To make an appointment, go to

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at

Sign up to receive this homeschool blog in your email each time I post!

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