• 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.

Worth reading

Prof. Sherry Turkle’s article, “A Passion for Objects: How science is fueled by an attachment to things”, from the May 30, 2008, issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I’m not a Chronicle subscriber, but I do get the weekly Review Newsletter, which gives me a few days to read articles before they get disappeared.

From Prof. Turkle’s article:

Beyond seeking a way to make any object transparent, young people across generations extol the pleasure of materials, of texture, of what one might call the resistance of the “real.” In the early 1990s, the computer scientist Timothy Bickmore’s experiments with lasers, “passing the laser through every substance I could think of (Vaseline on slowly rotating glass was one of the best),” recall the physical exuberance of Richard Feynman’s candy-wrapped light bulbs of a half-century before. For Selby Cull in 2006, geology becomes real through her childhood experience of baking a chocolate meringue: “Basic ingredients heated, separated, and cooled equals planet. To add an atmospheric glaze, add gases from volcanoes and volatile liquids from comets and wait until they react. Then shock them all with bolts of lightning and stand back. Voilà. Organic compounds. How to bake a planet.” Cull’s joyful comments describe the moment of scientific exultation, the famed “Eureka” moment of raw delight.

Science is fueled by passion, a passion that often attaches to the world of objects much as the artist attaches to his paints, the poet to his or her words. Putting children in a rich object world is essential to giving science a chance. Children will make intimate connections, connections they need to construct on their own. At a time when science education is in crisis, giving science its best chance means guiding children to objects they can love.

At present, there is some evidence that we discourage object passions. Parents and teachers are implicitly putting down both science and scientists when they use phrases such as “boys and their toys,” a devaluing commonplace. It discourages both young men and women from expressing their object enthusiasms until they can shape them into polite forms. One of the things that discourages adults from valuing children’s object passions is fear that children will become trapped in objects, that they will come to prefer the company of objects to the company of other children. Indeed, when the world of people is too frightening, children may retreat into the safety of what can be predicted and controlled. This clear vocation should not give objects a bad name. We should ally ourselves with what objects offer: They can make children feel safe, valuable, and part of something larger than themselves.

The pleasures of the scientist are not so different from those of historians who inhabit other times and ways. What scientist and historian have in common is an experience that respects immersion rather than curricular pace. Their shared experience has little in common with lesson plans, accelerated drill and practice, or rapid-fire multiple simulations.

Read the rest here. Prof. Turkle teaches the social studies of science and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Chronicle piece is excerpted from Falling for Science: Objects in Mind, which she edited and which was published this month by MIT Press.

(And sadly, as a nonsubscriber, one new article this week I can’t get for free is this: “Introductory Science Moves Beyond ‘Rocks for Jocks’: James S. Trefil, a professor of physics at George Mason U. [and whom you may know and like very much, as we do, as an author], says science classes for nonmajors should describe the big concepts across disciplines.”  Sounds good.)

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