• 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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Looking and finding

I was beginning to despair of finding anything new and, well, unauthorized, to celebrate in this year of the Anne of Green Gables centennial, but perked up considerably earlier today upon discovering that next month will bring the publication of Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic by Irene Gammel (Key Porter, March 2008 in Canada; in the U.S. from St. Martin’s Press in July), who teaches English at Toronto Ryerson University.

Canadian writer and broadcaster Ted Barris wrote an in-depth blog post last fall about L.M. Montgomery and the new book, The star in our backyard“.

Perhaps just maybe, I think.

Honoring domesticity

I’ve started looking for a graduation gift for one of our nieces, and just borrowed the library’s copy of Get Crafty: Hip Home Ec by Jean Railla — which came out of her Get Crafty website — to see if it might be a possibility, along with a nifty homemade card and some cash tucked in between the pages.

I was expecting a hipper version of Flylady, but discovered “third-wave feminism” instead. Who knew? [Alright, maybe you did. But I’m old, and stuck in the mud for good measure.] In her introduction, Ms. Railla quotes Debbie Stoller of Bust and Stitch ‘n Bitch fame:

…although we may not be aware of it, we have bought into the lie that women are inferior so we set out to be more like men: important, big, self-centered, and good at getting ours.

[Stoller]…believes that if women want to achieve complete equality, we have to honor domesticity. “We already know what’s respectable and fulfilling about the workplace — basically going out and making money — and there is a certain amount of pride and independence in doing that.” Debbie continues, “But I think we need to relearn what’s valuable and fulfilling in the private sector. The home, children, crafts, and making things.”

What if, instead of dismissing domesticity, we thought of it as an important part of women’s culture. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that every woman should enjoy knitting [phew…] or cooking or embroidery. But I am suggesting that we give women’s work its props as something valuable, interesting, and important, just as knowing how to build a house, keeping accounting records, or playing basketball is. Skill, love, and creativity go into creating a nice home, making things by hand, and raising children. It’s not stupid, and it’s not easy; it’s damn hard work that we need to respect. Moreover, it’s our history, and dismissing it only doubles the injustice already done to women who didn’t have any choice but to be domestic in the first place.

Just the ideas I’d like my niece to take with her and start contemplating as she begins her new adventure.

I’m not the only one with high school graduation on my mind, though it’s much more immediate for Mrs. G. at Derfwad Manor. Her (home educated — aha!) Miss G. received not just the big fat envelope but also one dandy luggage tag. Farm School felicitations to the G Family!

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for free News About Good Books for Children and Teens, from The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton at Read Roger reports the start-up next month of Notes from the Horn Book,

perfect for parents and anyone else who is looking for good new books for children and teenagers. Each monthly issue features interviews with leading writers and illustrators, brief recommendations of noteworthy titles, and the latest news from the children’s book world. It’s written and published by Horn Book editors, the most trusted authorities in the field.

Poetry Friday: For Abraham Lincoln

For Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday was on Tuesday, February 12th, because we don’t remember him, or his poets, as often as we did, as often as we should:

Abraham Lincoln
(1809-1865)
by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét, from A Book of Americans

Lincoln was a long man.
He liked the out of doors.
He liked the wind blowing
And the talk in country stores.

He liked telling stories.
He liked telling jokes.
“Abe’s quite a character,”
Said quite a lot of folks.

Lots of folks in Springfield
Saw him every day,
Walking down the street
In his gaunt, long way.

Shawl around his shoulders,
Letters in his hat.
“That’s Abe Lincoln.”
They thought no more than that.

Knew that he was honest,
Guessed that he was odd,
Knew he had a cross wife
Though she was a Todd.

Knew he had three little boys
Who liked to shout and play,
Knew he had a lot of debts
It took him years to pay.

Knew his clothes and knew his house.
“That’s his office, here.
Blame good lawyer, on the whole,
Though he’s sort of queer.

“Sure he went to Congress, once.
But he didn’t stay.
Can’t expect us all to be
Smart as Henry Clay.

“Need a man for troubled times?
Well, I guess we do.
Wonder who we’ll ever find?
Yes — I wonder who.”

That is how they met and talked,
Knowing and unknowing.
Lincoln was the green pine.
Lincoln kept on growing.

O Captain! My Captain! from Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

* * *

I was looking for some extra links to add to this post and found these, at AbrahamLincolnOnline.org:

Poems written about Abraham Lincoln

Poetry written by Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s favorite poem

as well as a link to this Atlantic Monthly article, “Poetry and American Memory” by then-Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, from October 1999 (part 1 and part 2)

HipWriterMama is hosting today’s Poetry Friday round-up, and she also has the perfect Hilaire Belloc poem to help keep her first grader’s classmates scared straight in line when it comes to looking after books. Thanks, HPW!

Big Birthday Bash week: February 14

In between bites of chocolate today, spare a thought for George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., born on this date in 1859. Ferris, of course, invented the Wheel, his great gift to the world for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition.

* * *

The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson (1957, Newbery Honor)

More literary Ferris Wheel riding:

Charlotte’s Web, where Fern and Henry Fussy go for a ride at the fair

And the beautiful scene with Julie Harris in East of Eden

All I have

We’ve been celebrating today with handmade chocolates

that I see from happy, chocolate-y faces were worth the late night last week, cards (Laura has recently taken up quilling, thanks to one of her Christmas presents and to Frankie too who gave me the original idea), easy crafts (the Hershey’s Hugs in the little papercraft boxes from Orange Beautiful were our one concession to the stores),

and a pot of grape hyacinths.

It’s all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields –
And all the meadows wide –
Be sure you count – should I forget
Some one the sum could tell –
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

(No. 26, by Emily Dickinson)

Cybils: “And the winner is…”

The Cybils children’s book winners for 2007 have been announced. Congratulations to all of the winners, and to the organizers too for another fine job! Many thanks to everyone who participated. Spending the past few months surrounded by children’s books is an absolutely delightful way to pass the winter.

Another busy (and er, dare I say it, snowy) day, so I’ll keep this short and sweet, starting with my own category:

Nonfiction, Middle Grade/Young Adult: Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat

Nonfiction Picture Book: Lightship by Brian Floca

Fiction Picture Books: The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Shelley Jackson

Poetry: This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Novel (Middle Grade): A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Novel (Young Adult): Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Fantasy and Science Fiction (Elementary/Middle Grade): The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Fantasy and Science Fiction (Young Adult): Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Graphic Novel (Elementary/Middle Grade): Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano and Paolo Lamanna

Graphic Novel (Young Adult): The Professor’s Daughter by Joann Sfar, illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert