• 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

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    "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"

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    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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Poetry sings

On the way out of Toronto last month, I was gifted by the airport hotel with the Sunday New York Times, where in the Book Review section I was even more thrilled to find a tiny mention of the new book and CD set, Poetry Speaks to Children, edited by Elise Paschen.

We’re big fans of the original, Poetry Speaks, subtitled “Hear Great Poets Read Their Work from Tennyson to Plath,” which is best not really for the book but for the three accompanying cds, on which you can actually listen to Tennyson, Browning, Yeats, Eliot and more than 30 other celebrated poets recite their works. Or, as kids in this house have been know to say, “That’s what I thought he would sound like!” Tennyson’s reading of The Charge of the Light Brigade makes my toes tingle, and when Carl Sandburg speaks you can hear a pin drop in our kitchen, which doesn’t happen often. As my kids are learning, poetry (and plays) should be heard and not read.

Poetry Speaks to Children‘s book has 97 selections, from classic to contemporary, and is apparently profusely illustrated. The CD contains 52 poems read by 36 poets and artists, including such goodies as J.R.R. Tolkien reciting Frodo’s Song in Bree from The Fellowship of the Ring; Robert Frost and his Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening; Basil Rathbone (aka Sherlock Holmes) reading Edgar Allen Poe; what I have heard is a lyrical telling by Jamaican-born James Berry‘s Okay, Brown Girl, Okay*, and — well worth repeating from the original version — Langston Hughes’s moving The Negro Speaks of Rivers.

With a lineup like that, I’m willing to overlook what seems like pretty goofy cover art, a few apparently equally goofy poetry choices, and, grrr, the fact that the kid’s version comes with only one CD rather than three. And, at under $14 US, you Americans are getting a deal.

* If these books whet your appetite, or if your library’s waiting list is too long, or if even $14 is too much (so many books, so little money), then you’ll be even more excited by the gem that is the UK Poetry Archive website — the world’s premier online collection of recordings of poets reading their work. The Archive includes sections for teachers, students, and a special Children’s Archive. A heartfelt thank you to everyone before and behind the scenes at the archive, the brainchild of UK poet laureate Andrew Motion and recording producer Richard Carrington with boosts from former US poet laureate/New York State Poet Billy Collins, poet Seamus Heaney, and writer Melvyn Bragg.

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