• 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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  • Copyright © 2005-2016 Please do not use any of my words or my personal photographs without my express permission.

Notifications I

For anyone who’s interested in such things, I’ve had some email notifications recently.

First up, from LibriVox, because I signed up for the announcement, news that The Fairy-Land of Science by Arabella Buckley, originally published in 1879, is now available as a free audiobook. I’m planning to use this in addition to the book, which has charming illustrations that shouldn’t be missed. You can find the book itself as an e-text at The Baldwin Project or a paperback edition, from The Baldwin Project’s publishing arm, Yesterday’s Classics. Other books by Miss Buckley available at The Baldwin Project are here; one of them, Wild Life in Woods and Fields, is available as a paperback and also as a free audiobook from Librivox. The sequel to Fairy-LandThrough Magic Glasses — is available here for free online.

Of interest to anyone fond of Miss Buckley’s books is Dr. John Lienhard‘s NPR piece on The Fairy-Land of Science; he says, “Her so-called children’s books are completely solid texts on botany, geology, chemistry and physics.” Here‘s another piece by Dr. Lienhard on Miss Buckley, including her views on evolution. Dr. Lienhard’s shows run as part of The Engines of Our Ingenuity radio program, which is available as a podcast for those, like us, who can’t get NPR.

From the article on Arabella Buckley by Barbara Gates in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

Buckley [married name Fisher], Arabella Burton (1840–1929), popularizer of science and writer, was born on 24 October 1840 in Brighton, the daughter of John Wall Buckley, vicar of St Mary’s, Paddington Green, and his wife, Elizabeth … . Little is known of her education and early life. An authoritative popularizer of science, and from 1864 to 1875 secretary to Sir Charles Lyell (for whose entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica she wrote the expert’s addendum), she was personally familiar with the leading scientists and scientific theories of her day. She lectured on natural science from 1876 until 1888, was editor of Mary Somerville’s Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1877) and Heinrich Leutemann’s Animals from Life (1887), and produced a set of botanical tables for the use of junior students (1876). In her own first book, A Short History of Natural Science (1876), she recalled that she ‘often felt very forcibly how many important facts and generalizations of science, which are of great value … in giving a true estimate of life and its conditions, [were] totally unknown to the majority of otherwise well-educated persons’ (pp. vii–viii). Her Short History was intended ‘to supply that modest amount of scientific information which everyone ought to possess, while, at the same time … form a useful groundwork for those who wish afterwards to study any special branch of science’ (p. viii) and as such was praised by Charles Darwin. On 6 March 1884 she married Thomas Fisher MD (1819/20–1895), a widower twenty years her senior.

Although Arabella Buckley also wrote A History of England for Beginners (1887), traditional history never gave full scope to her distinctive penchant for narrative, which was better exercised in her books retelling the story of evolution. Grounded in evolutionary theory and in all aspects of the new geology, she re-created this knowledge in two popular books whose narratives are highly imaginative, Life and her Children (1881) and Winners in Life’s Race (1883). In them Buckley presented seven divisions of life: Life and her Children covers the first six, from the amoebas to the insects, and Winners in Life’s Race is entirely devoted to the seventh, the ‘great backboned family’.

Buckley was one of a small number of nineteenth-century Darwinians who realized the deficiencies in Darwin’s thinking with regard to the development of moral qualities in the animal kingdom, set out in his discussion of ‘social instincts’ in The Descent of Man (1871). Darwin had observed the competitive advantage species can gain from a well-developed social instinct but had difficulty in explaining its evolution, particularly with respect to parental affections for their offspring. Far from being daunted by this aspect of evolution, Buckley made parents’ care for their offspring central to her books on evolution and continued Darwin’s observations with far greater emphasis on mutuality. For her the raison d’être for evolution was not just the preservation of life, but the development of altruism as well.

Buckley’s work is concurrent with Karl Kessler’s ‘On the law of mutual aid’ (1880), the lecture which stimulated Peter Kropotkin to re-examine Darwin. Kessler died in 1881, the year that saw the publication of Buckley’s Life and her Children; it then took Kropotkin ten years to challenge Thomas Henry Huxley over the importance of mutual aid in the pages of Nineteenth Century, and another ten to formulate his classic Mutual Aid: a Factor in Evolution (1902). Meanwhile, Buckley’s last book, Moral Teachings of Science (1891), was devoted to this idea and written to unite science and philosophy — to study morality from ‘within outward’ and ‘without inward’ (p. 4). For Buckley, ‘these [were] not really two, but only different methods of arriving at one result, namely, the knowledge of laws by which we and all the rest of nature are governed’ (p. 5).

Buckley was deeply aware of the nature of science writing and realized that science, though based in fact or experiment, was transmitted as a literary construction. Two other books, The Fairy-Land of Science (1879, reissued in a number of late nineteenth-century editions) and its sequel, Through Magic Glasses (1890), demonstrate her skill at telling the stories of science. In Fairy-Land Buckley generated interest in her scientific subjects by borrowing the language of fairy stories and wizardry to reinforce her ultimate belief that the wonders of science not only paralleled but surpassed the wonders of fairyland. In its sequel, Through Magic Glasses, she focused more closely on what childlike eyes can see, calling on the help of the telescope, stereoscope, photographic camera, and microscope, and a fictional guide, a magician into whose chamber the reader immediately enters and through whose eyes the world is viewed. Her last work showed the same concern with vision and the visible and was written for Cassell’s series Eyes and No Eyes (1901–24). Buckley died of influenza at her home, 3 Boburg Terrace, Sidmouth, Devon, on 9 February 1929.

Nifty, eh?

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