• 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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Two great posts on home schooling

Two of my favorite bloggers have written some excellent posts on the subject this week.

Cami at Full Circle gives us a peek into their family’s home school, in the post A Solitary Plant: How We Homeschool: how the study of one particular plant, in this case mullein, took her family from their nature journals and botany to Thoreau (slavery, the Civil War, and Civil Disobedience), Homer, Latin, and a study of homemade toxins.

Mrs. G. at Derfwad Manor talks about how and why her family homeschools (Part One), along with her “highly subjective opinions regarding homeschooling small fry” and a very kind mention of Farm School. Lots of trademark Derfwad humor, warmth, and common sense. As she writes,

Mrs. G. was reluctant to write about homeschooling because why and how you do it varies so widely. For the G’s homeschooling is more of a way of life than a segment of their day. Homeschooling has given their family so much time and freedom to be together and control the pace of their lives. If Mrs. G. had to describe herself under the current homeschooling labels she would have to say she is an unschooler who makes her kids do math whether they want to or not. Mrs. G. felt her main job was making sure their house was filled to the brim with good books (hello garage sales and Goodwill) on all kinds of subjects, helping her kids identify their passions and figure out how to explore them on a budget, teaching them life skills at an early age so that they understood the concept of teamwork and that Mrs. G. was not a maid or servant or ATM machine and loving them.

Read the rest here.

And Mrs. G. recommends a book I haven’t heard of, The Way Back Home: Essays on Life and Family by Peggy O’Mara, but was able to find at the library (the one book I have read by Ms. O’Mara, when I was pregnant with Laura, is the lovely A Quiet Place). Stay tuned for Part Two later in the week, including Mrs. G.’s experience home schooling older kids, one of whom is Miss G., who is headed for Agnes Scott College in the fall.

Also worth reading, from the comments after her post, is this reply from Mrs. G.,

But I want to make one thing really clear — no one should admire me or any other homeschooling parent just because they homeschool. It is just a choice. I don’t NOT admire anyone who chooses to send their kids to public or private school. I am usually turned off by zealots in general — those who think there is only one BEST way to do anything and that they have the only recipe. Live and let live. I sometimes get the impression that when I tell people I homeschool, they feel the need to justify why they don’t. We all do the best we can for our kids. Period. I also get the impression that when I tell people I homeschool, they decide I am a woman who makes her kids wear calico bonnets while they sit at the kitchen table and carve the ten commandments on wood slabs…in Latin, but that’s another story.

As Mrs. G. writes, home schooling is one more choice we parents make. It is also, as with just about everything else having to do with families and raising children, highly subjective and very personal. Homeschooling itself has many shades and stripes — classical education, neo-classical education, classical unschooling, radical unschooling, and that’s only a sprinkling, without getting into the secular and religious (non-evangelical and evangelical Christian, Catholic, UU, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Pagan…) variations thereof and therein.

I’ll add just a couple of pieces of advice that have worked for me since we started:

Get a library card for every member of the family and use it

When it comes to advice (from books or bloggers or the home schooler down the street), keep what works for you and your family, and ditch the rest

What works with one child might not work for (any of) the others

And that’s truly the beauty of home education — the flexibility, which Cami and Mrs. G. demonstrate so well.


5 Responses

  1. Amen. I think all we homeschooling parents want is the control and flexibility over our kids’ education…

  2. Those are two great posts! Thanks for sharing them.

  3. Thanks for sharing these Becky – and all the other great stuff you share too!

    Penny, in VT, where it SNOWED yesterday.

  4. What works with one child might not work for (any of) the other(s)

    Very, very true. My oldest is definitely a divergent thinker who recently explained to me that the reason he has trouble with spelling is that he thinks in pictures rather than words. My youngest, however, happily spends up to half an hour at a time typing words from flashcards onto the computer. (And yes, it was his own idea.) No cookie-cutter teaching going on here, because it’s just not possible.

  5. I must admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information available for homeschooling. There’s this terrible dread I harbour of “doing it wrong” and having Danny end up poorly educated. Irrational, perhaps but still very much a concern.

    I tried getting Danny to don a calico bonnet but he favours an engineer’s cap.

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