• 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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Speaking of education

Here’s the latest in edumacation news in our fair province, where money is gushing out of the ground faster than brains can think:

  • According to the Alberta School Board Association, nearly half of the province’s school boards are reporting annual deficits, four times the number in financial difficulty five years ago. Because I tend to think that what’s wrong with education in Alberta (and likely elsewhere in North America) isn’t a money problem — which means that more money isn’t the solution — I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel with the finance minister’s recent announcement of a surprise, and record $8.7 billion budget surplus, even if the government does decide to give the schools more moola. Locally, for example, the schools go on frequent computer upgrading sprees, clearing ever more books out of libraries to make room for monitors, so they can teach second graders how to make Power Point presentations. However, high schoolers are expected to make collages instead writing essays.
  • Throwing more money around, Alberta Education is spending $400,000 to find out why so many high school students are dropping out. The current “high school completion rate” is 77.4 percent, but the educrats would like to see it at 90 percent. The Edmonton Sun reports,

    [Education Minister and former teacher Gene] Zwozdesky said one idea might be to take students on more field trips to see various workplaces or to use computers and videoconferencing to bring close-up views of possible careers into the schools.

    “I think it’s important for students to realize that the future is very much around a knowledge-based economy,” said Zwozdesky. “The better paying jobs and the higher paying jobs and the jobs that provide great opportunities for personal growth are largely predicated on at least completing high school and hopefully more. There’s a great value in education.”

    For considerably less, I’d be happy to give the Minister an answer and save him some money: why waste time and money getting a high school degree when you can earn big bucks in the oil patch, or even serving coffee and doughnuts at Fort MacMurray (for around $14 an hour)? This is, by the way, what happens when people are taught, in high school and elsewhere, to confuse value with money, to value money, and to confuse an education with career training.

  • From The Globe & Mail:

    A battle for the moral high ground has erupted in Calgary, where the city’s influential Roman Catholic bishop has issued a damning indictment of the local school board’s decision to continue to use gambling as a source of fundraising for its cash-strapped schools.

    In a letter sent this week to each of the 97 schools in the Calgary Catholic School District, Bishop Fred Henry threatened “blacklisting” of schools that engage in “immoral fundraising, as well as stripping them of their Catholic designation, and announced that he won’t preside at the liturgy to open the school year.

    “It is morally wrong for a Catholic institution to formally co-operate in an industry that exploits the weak and the vulnerable,” he wrote. “The end does not justify the means.”

    Although I don’t agree with some of Bishop Henry’s other opinions, I’m with him on this. Every year, organizations across the province from playschools to elementary schools to libraries submit applications to work at bingos and casinos (the booming Ft. MacMurray is a very hot prospect, with hall those oilfield workers eager to be separated from their cash) and to receive lottery funds. Interestingly, about $83 million annually from the Alberta Lottery Fund goes toward the budget for Alberta’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC), which also covers gambling. AADAC’s own website points out that “An estimated 5.2% of adult Albertans have a gambling problem” and “An estimated 3.9% of adult Albertans are moderate risk gamblers and 1.3% are problem gamblers.” And there’s a lot of talk both at AADAC and the provincial Ministry of Gaming (bet you didn’t know we had one of those) about “Social Responsibility”. Though not the same kind the Bishop is talking about.

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Carnival Time

over at The Lilting House, where Melissa and her daughter Jane have done a wonderful quotefull job. Archives for previous Carnivals of Educations are here at the archive. And next week’s Carnival of Education will be hosted by NYC Educator; officially, you’re submit your posts to nyceducator (at) gmail (dot) com by 6 pm NYC time on Tuesday, July 4th, but do yourself and NYC Educator a favor and have it in early.

The Steel Magnolias at The Homeschool Cafe are hosting this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling. The weather’s getting kind of steamy in that part of the world, so Natalie has moved the festivities indoors to the air-conditioned Cafe.

Intermittent blogging ahead

I’ll have to admit right now that I’m just not spending enough time by the computer, or even indoors, to do much blogging and I don’t think that will change much in the next while, especially with Canada Day, two weddings, and the fair in our future. So you’ve been warned.

We’ve had hot, dry, sunny weather for the past week or so (and desperately in need of rain once again — some of the grass is turning white and the leaves are starting to fall off the alfalfa, which needs cutting), and we’ve all been outside, tending the vegetable and flower gardens (finishing the radishes and starting in on the new spinach), admiring the new peony that burst into blossom, traipsing through the public cemetery for Tom’s uncle’s interment (which the minister kept referring to as an internment), buying and eating Fudgsicles, Creamsicles, and ice cream sandwiches, playing cowboys and Indians in the tall grass, hilling potatoes, reading under the rhubarb, weeding half of our baby trees (that would be about 700 saplings, in double rows, with hoes, the push rototiller, the rototiller attachment to the tractor, and by hand), watering same little trees, fashioning cages out of page wires to keep the deer from eating any more leaves off my Mother’s Day apple trees (that was at 11 o’clock last night), eating watermelon with seeds, going to the homeschool end-of-year swim party, playing softball, attending the annual neighbors’ picnic at a friends’ farm, discovering a killdeer nest in the middle of our smallest nest and making a ring of rocks around it to make sure no-one drives over it, and trying to figure out how to move the nest that a determined but misguided bluebird built in the swather tube.

Far down inside the six-foot long swather tube. What made Tom think to look inside the tube yesterday before hitching the swather to the tractor is a mystery, but when he looked, there she was, sitting on her nest. One small egg was out of the nest, so she must have thought something was wrong with it and kicked it out. We can get Laura or Davy to reach in and rescue the egg (the perfect addition to our home nature museum) but the nest is beyond the reach of even a long, skinny, young arm. Tom is thinking of fashioning a sort of “pizza peel” to slide the nest out, and is also trying to find something a similar shape to the swather tube — four inches in diameter, square — in which to relocate the nest. And then the haying can start.

My deal of the week

Possibly of the month. Found at the Loblaws supermarket this afternoon: MGM’s The Frank Sinatra Collection of three wonderful movies in nobody-wants-it-but-us-
anymore-video-format, for a grand total of $1.33 each. Even in U.S. dollars that’s a steal. It sure beats $10 for a collection of Pink Panther cartoons on DVD; we love PP around here, but only on deeply discounted video.

That’s $3.99 total for “Anchors Aweigh” (with Kathryn Grayson, from the kids’ favorite Kiss Me Kate! Gene Kelly, too! Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry the Mouse from Tom & Jerry!); “On the Town” (more Gene Kelly! And the Museum of Natural History and Miss Turnstiles and Ann Miller, also from Kiss Me Kate! Not to mention Leonard Bernstein and Comden & Green and Stanley Donen), and “High Society” (Grace Kelly! Celeste Holm! Louis Armstrong! Cole Porter!). I know, I know, “The Philadelphia Story” is better, but if you were going to make a musical version and in the fifties, this is pretty darn good.

That’s it then. Give us back our Stanley Cup…

From The Guardian:

The author of what has been described as the definitive dictionary of slang is gobsmacked, gutted, throwing up bunches, honked, hipped and jacked like a cock-maggot in a sink-hole. A North Carolina school district has banned the dictionary under pressure from one of a growing number of conservative Christian groups using the internet to encourage school book bans across the US.

The book is the revised edition of Cassell Dictionary of Slang by Britain’s leading lexicographer of slang, Jonathon Green, and it joins five other books formally challenged by the Wake County school district, including The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, Junie B. Jones, Some Sneaky, Peaky Spying by Barbara Park, Reluctantly Alice by Phyllis Reynolds, and In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. According to the Guardian, school officials acted after pressure from a local Christian activist group, Called2Action, whose website asks people to “join our E-army today to take your place on the front lines of the battle for our children’s future.” Not surprisingly, they’re not wild about Harry Potter either.

Perhaps the group and school board confused the Dictionary with another one of Mr. Green’s collections, The Big Book of Filth: 6,500 Sex Slang Words and Phrases.

Green is quoted as saying, “I’m very flattered. It’s not exactly book-burning but, in the great tradition of book censorship, there never seems to be the slightest logic to it.”

Special occasions demand special things (so said Mrs. Bird)

“Oooh,” said Paddington, “is it really for me?” He stared hungrily at the cake. It really was a wonderful cake. One of Mrs. Bird’s best. It was covered with sugar icing and it had a cream and marmalade filling. On the top there was one candle and the words: TO PADDINGTON. WITH BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY BIRTHDAY — FROM EVERYONE.

It had been Mrs. Bird’s idea to have a birthday party. Paddington had been with them for two months. No one, not even Paddington, knew quite how old he was, so they decided to start again and call him one. Paddington thought this was a good idea, especially when he was told that bears had two birthdays every year — one in the summer and one in the winter.

“Just like the Queen,” said Mrs. Bird. “So you ought to consider yourself very important.”

from A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

And this year, their summer birthday celebrations fell on the same day, today! Here’s Her Majesty’s version. And, in another coincidence, both Her Majesty and Michael Bond are 80 years old this year. Many happy returns times two to all, and marmalade sandwiches and cream-and-jam cakes all ’round!

Poetry Friday: The long, the lovely day

Somehow my E. Nesbit poem disappeared. Blame Blogger. Will repost as soon as I get a chance (probably sometime after our 17 hours of daily sunshine disappear).