• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Very loud, very slow, very simple — and very busy

More coincidences in my life out here on the prairie. First I read about Edward Tufte in the “Low-Tech Chic” (yup, that would me) article in Maclean’s magazine. Tufte and other “modern Luddites” (yup, me again lol)

make a clear distinction between rejecting technology a priori and test-driving innovations with a critical eye. In his infamous screed [now, now] The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, [Tufte] explains how there’s nothing particularly innovative about software that “routinely disrupts, dominates and trivializes content. PP presentations too often resemble the school play: very loud, very slow, and very simple.”

A few days later I read, over at Daryl’s blog, about first graders learning to use PowerPoint (“PPT is evil”, August 22). And then Tuesday I found this little gem, about a recent project with first graders and fourth graders at the local public school, in our weekly rag (bold elements are mine, all mine):

Mrs. W., who teaches grade four, and Mrs. T., who teaches grade one, teamed up [last year] on a Special Interest Group Technology (SIGTel) project within the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Along with their students, they created an online project entitled Kid Dictionary: Enhancing Student Learning Via Global Communication. …

“What started it is I have keypals over in Sweden, and when we first started this project, we’d been writing back and forth. My students sent 10 English words over the Sweden and they sent us back 10 Swedish translations,” said Mrs. W. With those translations, students created the online Kid Dictionary Alphabet Pages, illustrated with clip art, and also used the translations to create a word wall. Four students took the project a step further and translated the words into a third language, including Afrikaan [sic], Chinese and Ukrainian. The Swedish words were proofread by Mrs. W.’s keypal in Sweden….

Mrs. T.’s grade ones were able to get involved with the project as well. “The grade one involvement was an extension of the grade four projects. In January, they (the grade fours) brought down whatever word they had up that month on the word wall and brought down a picture of it and taught the meaning of the word to one of my students. When the kids understood the word, we went together and they took my [grade one] students on the computers and peer taught them how to use Microsoft Word to type a sentence that had the word in it, to show that they understood the meaning, how to add a border to page, how to send it to the printer, how to save it under their own name, and then my students took the page they had produced back to our room and illustrated it and then we had our own word wall in our classroom that we displayed those on,” said Mrs. T.

“It was really neat for my kids to get to work with the grade fours. It was really neat for them to be given some peer coaching on the computers, but I think the biggest benefit was for the grade four students. To watch those kids teaching the little kids, and the excitement that went on for them and to get to be the teacher for once, that was really neat, really powerful,” said Mrs. T.

Really neat? Maybe, if you’re intrigued by make-work projects and have nothing else you could be learning. But for Tom and me, it’s just more reassurance that the simple, low-tech way is the best, and most powerful, choice for our first grader, who’s been learning to read, write, and use a dictionary* the old-fashioned way.

*Webster’s Elementary Dictionary: A Dictionary for Boys and Girls, 1945, with some lovely color plates; 50 cents and a bargain at twice the price from a garage sale

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