• 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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G is for guitar…and giddy

Our first two back-to-school days, which ended up being out-of-the-house days, proved to be a wonderful way to ease back into the swing of things. The local author reading, and getting to meet him, inspired Laura and she’s been scribbling away ever since, with plans to write up our adventure with the hawk. Afterwards, we dropped off Tom’s lunchbox with plans to head home for lunch ourselves, to find that his current clients had invited us to pick as many apples from their trees as we wished. Since the apples, some crabs and other quite good-sized ones, were already falling off the trees, the kids and I headed to the supermarket, picked up a couple of sandwiches to share and some empty cardboard boxes, and returned to pick apples. Nothing like an apple for the teacher and then some. We’ll press them for cider.

Yesterday it was back to the library for a meeting, home for lunch, and back to town afterwards for an afternoon of music lessons. Laura is taking piano and voice again, Davy has started with voice, and Daniel was absolved from piano lessons for evermore. In place of piano, Daniel, and Davy too, started guitar lessons, and were beyond giddy leaving lessons with their two guitars (one small, the other smaller). They adored the teacher, the lesson, the guitars, the picks, the music (a few chords of “We Will Rock You” to be followed, in the next week or two, by, of course, “Smoke on the Water”), and Davy was excited to learn that their new teacher also knows how to play and teach the banjo, instrument of his dreams for lo these past three years (the teacher and I decided that it would be a better idea to start with the guitar and then move to banjo). They would have played their new instruments in the truck on the way home if I had let them but had to wait until our arrival home, where they played for their sister, their father, and me. Then Davy wandered around until suppertime with his guitar in its case slung across his back, like a teeny tiny itinerant musician.

The boys were up unusually early this morning, to practice the guitar, of course (“I heard you rummaging around in bed so I figured you were still sleeping so I waited until I heard you open the sock drawer,” my almost-seven-year-old Woody Guthrie told me breathlessly, even before his usual “Good morning”, leaving me wondering a) if I really do rummage in my sleep and b) where did that kid learn that word). Later in the day, he spent a good 10 minutes in front the calendar, moaning that it would be “a whole ‘nother week ’til the next lesson”, darn it all, and why can’t we go back tomorrow? I plan on using most of this enthusiasm and interest for the kids’ science studies this year, as the kids explore the physics of sound and music with the help of their new instruments and Rubber-Band Banjos and Java Jive Bass.

The rest of the day wasn’t nearly exciting, especially as I insisted on getting back to our usual schedule, hitting the books and such. Though we started the day without math books and with a new multiplication board game (from the Frank Schaffer folks), simple and fun. Then moved on to penmanship for the boys, and Laura wrote a letter. We started our new readaloud, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, while the kids decided to map out on the chalkboard what Almanzo’s family’s farmyard must have looked like with the three big barns. Then some world history with Story of the World (volume 3) and my new summertime find, the out-of-print Golden History of the World by Jane Werner Watson, 1955; Davy likes it and its illustrations almost as much he likes guitar lessons. Now that Davy is just about seven, I’ll see if we can get through World War II by the end of the year. I’d like to get through the second part of the 20th century with just Laura thereafter, and I’m mulling over an idea already for her history studies next year, when she’ll begin the cycle again with ancient studies. My idea is something along the lines of “History, heroes, and hubris”; the thought started percolating quite against my will, and after some recent conversations and a radio interview on modern heroes, within the past month, and then just last week I ran across a copy of the May 2007 issue of Calliope Magazine all about the Epic Heroes of ancient history, with a number of articles by editors Rosalie F. Baker and Charles F. Baker (poking around the Calliope website, I learned that a free teacher’s guide is available for that issue and others as a PDF). I’ll have to check History Odyssey ‘s Ancients, Level Three (meant for the rhetoric stage), to see if it fits the general idea of what I’m looking for, or if I’ll have to cobble together something for Laura on my own. Though it’s early days and the plan is just a glimmer in my eye, I’m leaning toward the latter, but using two books HO/Ancients/3 does, Classical Ingenuity: The Legacy of Greek and Roman Architects, Artists, and Inventors and The Classical Companion, both by Callipoe editors Rosalie and Charles Baker. Must see if I can find the books at the library.

Sorry, I think this post is much too rambly. I guess the boys aren’t the only giddy and distracted ones…

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