• 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.

Poetry Is Life, and some Great Books too

Sunday mornings after breakfast are my favorite time with the radio, because that’s when CBC’s “The Sunday Edition” with Michael Enright is on, followed by lunchtime with Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe. I’d listen to Michael Enright read the phone book, though I’d rather listen to him talk about it, because I know he always has something interesting to say.

The other weekend, “Sunday Edition” treats included an interview with bestselling author Sarah Dunant who always sounds so wonderfully enthusiastic, and a feature on the history of the saxophone. But my attention belonged to the last part of the six-part series, “Poetry Is Life and Vice Versa” with Bruce Meyer. I’ve found over the years that anything with Dr. Meyer on CBC is worth catching. Not only is he a very companionable radio friend, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s a poet himself, as well as a scholar of literature and poetry with, among other things, several books of poetry, some short stories, two books of interviews with Canadian writers, and two textbooks to his credit.

I missed the first four installations of “Poetry Is Life” because of our trip, so I was delighted to find that all of them are available for free online as audio files; each segment is about half an hour long, and the segments are: How Poems Sound (Jan 22/06); How Poems See (Jan 29/06); How Poems Think (Feb 5/06); How Poems Dance (Feb 19/06); How Poems Feel (Feb 26/06); and How Poems Read (Mar 12/06). And because the series has been so popular, it will be available for sale on CD in mid-April, just in time for National Poetry Month, tra la.

From what I heard the other weekend and today, this series seems to be as good as Meyer’s two previous ones for CBC Radio, The Great Books and A Novel Idea: An Exploration into the Evolution of Story Telling. The Great Books series was also made available on audio, in three parts, and if you dig around you can find the cassettes, or, preferably, the cds. Or you can get Meyer’s book, The Golden Thread: A Reader’s Journey Through the Great Books, which covers Homer, Virgil, the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, up through A Room of One’s Own and The Wizard of Oz; the book is out of print in the US but still available in Canada. The audio version of the Novel Idea series, too, is apparently still available on audiocassette.

I know, covering the Great Books isn’t a particularly original idea, having been covered already and in great depth by everyone from Harold Bloom (How to Read and Why) and Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren (How to Read a Book) — which has even spawned a study guide, How to Read ‘How to Read a Book’ by Maryalice Newborn — to WTM guru Susan Wise Bauer (The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had), but Meyer does it well. One of the nice features of Dr. Meyer’s book is that it’s very conversational and accessible, considerably less pedantic than some of the other works on the subject, and yet more learned and less how-to-ish than others. It’s definitely, as the subtitle says, a reader’s journey rather than an expert’s lesson, with a particularly learned friend along for the ride.

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