By David Tulis
A son and I sat at the kitchen table with Gary Bloom, a roving book dealer taking part in the home education expo this weekend at Camp Jordan Arena in East Ridge. Mr. Bloom, a joshing handyman sort with a bald pate and big ears, is a great listener but also a vigorous storyteller, operating an RV half-filled with volumes for sale and towing a trailer packed hardbacks.
He tells about repairing his trailer hitch, dealing with cops in faraway states and how he married a high school sweetheart whom he met over tough math problems.
Down the hallway and in the dining room, my wife, Jeannette and Mr. Bloom’s wife, Jan, talk up favorite authors at dinner with nearly a dozen homeschooling moms, all reading fans. The star is Mrs. Bloom, whose Books Bloom business attends 20 education and homeschool conventions a year and graces the Chattanooga expo again.
For these moms, nothing beats talking about literature, and even the book business. Jeannette might buy a Landmark history volume from the Friends of the Library book sale for F$2, to find it sells online for F$70. The goal for most of us, though, is having the best volumes, not making a profit.
July is a big time of year for the Tulises. We’ve been involved in home education for 22 years, that being the age of our eldest of four children, Abigail, a sculptor and artist spending the summer painting in Holland and Rome. Jeannette and I promote the event and man the homeschool association booth. She does marketing among Chattanooga-area families, I publish the homeschool newsletter, Esprit, and pump the expo — our group’s main fund-raiser — on my radio station, Hot News Talk Radio, where I host a talk show.
We pitch the event to as broad a public as we can. “The home education expo is not just for homeschoolers,” Jeannette intones in a radio spot. “Discover how to overcome learning difficulties or feed a child’s special interest. More than 80 exhibitors from across the U.S. will help you find that perfect resource.”
But the expo Friday and Saturday has all kinds of materials, from software, games, courses, curriculum, book sets, training materials, contacts and ideas. Exhibitors include people such as Tim Ostermeyer, an author and photographer whose first children’s book is Adventures of Rusty & Ginger Fox. Another exhibitor focuses in materials dealing with space exploration. Sprouts Cooking is a mobile culinary school to be invited by support groups. Another exhibitor says its offerings “will inspire parents to use their homes as classrooms as they take advantage of the naturally rich learning opportunities that occur in everyday home life.” Another, Nature’s Workshop Plus, proposes the value of real learning vs. screen learning in developing boy and girl naturalists.
Nature’s Workshop Plus has been bringing quality educational materials to families across the U.S. From anatomy to zoology, it has projects and books to meet your and your children’s interests. Though the electronic world is gaining on us at warp speed, it hopes children will still find enjoyment in things that take them away from the screen and into the amazing world of nature that God has given us to enjoy.
If you attend to shop or listen to a workshop speaker, please let me know you are my Nooganomics.com reader. I would love to meet you.