• 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."

    "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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  • Copyright © 2005-2016 Please do not use any of my words or my personal photographs without my express permission.

Swimming School

One area of our homeschooling that’s blossoming while we’re away is phys ed.

Thanks to my parents’ pool, and without too much interference from the rain and wind (as Davy explained, “You’re going to get wet anyway”), the kids have been having lots of fun and also making steady progress with their swimming, diving, and flips. Laura, so close to eight-and-a-half she can smell it, has been doing beautifully with the front crawl since last summer; however, her inability to do a proper dive, while Daniel has been making annoyingly perfect dolphin dives and flips for a couple of years already, had her in tears more than once since our arrival. But late last week, she started asking for help — bend your legs more, Tom told her; keep your legs and ankles together, I offered — and following it. And practicing, almost all the time. And believe it or not, she saw results late on the first day. Now not only are her dives are a thing of beauty, graceful and elegant and quiet, but she has a new understanding in the old saw, practice makes perfect. And today she managed a couple of decent forward flips.

Daniel, of course, isn’t too happy to lose his lead as the best, and formerly only, diver of the three. So, at not quite seven years old, he’s upped the ante by adding backward flips, and off the unauthorized diving board (installed by Tom, disliked intensely by my father) to boot. Frighteningly good. Davy has decided that he should be able to do back flips too and better dives, like his big brother, and the front crawl, like his big sister. There is no more powerful motivator than being the smallest and the youngest. Davy is also pretty good now at spending most of his time underwater, and reminds me of a small, sleek, brown (albeit hairless) otter, as he swims between my legs or hangs on to Tom’s back as they swim the length of the pool floor.

And Laura and I have discovered that holding hands and bouncing in the shallow end while repeating the multiplication tables is great fun, and about as close as we can get to Shirley Temple’s trick of singing the tables as she tap danced her way down the lighthouse steps in “Captain January.”

No neat tricks for me, other than having the opportunity to read a book every day or every other day, and murder mysteries at that. The latest was P.D. James’s The Lighthouse. Not one of her best — James maroons Dalgliesh and his team on an isolated, supposedly secure, island off Cornwall, and then gives AD SARS — but the writing is as strong and graceful as ever, and, with James in her late eighties, each volume is a gift.

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