• 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)
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • ChasDarwinHasAPosse
  • Farm School: A Twitter-Free Zone

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

Banned Books Week: Day 6: I’ll be finked

That night at dinner everything was going along as usual, that is, Mr. and Mrs. Welsch were having an interminable, rambling conversation about nothing in particular while Harriet watched it all like a tennis match, when suddenly Harriet leaped to her feet as though she had just then remembered, and screamed, “I’ll be damned if I’ll go to dancing school.”

“Harriet!” Mrs. Welsch was appalled. “How dare you use words like that at the table.”

“Or any other place, dear,” interjected Mr. Welsch calmly.

“All right, I’ll be FINKED if I’ll go to dancing school.” Harriet stood and screamed this solidly. She was throwing a fit. She only threw fits as a last resort, so that even as she did it she had a tiny feeling in the back of her brain that she had already lost. She wouldn’t, however, have it said that she went down without a try.

“Where in the world did you learn a word like that?” Mrs. Welsch’s eyebrows were raised almost to her hairline.

“It’s not a verb, anyway,” said Mr. Welsch. They both sat looking at Harriet as thought she were a curiosity put on television to entertain them.

“I will not, I will not, I will not,” shouted Harriet at the top of her lungs. She wasn’t getting the right reaction. Something was wrong.

from the beginning of Chapter 5, Harriet the Spy, written and illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh (Harper & Row, 1964)

* * * *

I’ve been reading aloud Harriet the Spy to the kids (part of our Thanksgiving prep program), and it’s a great hit so far, even though they have yet to taste an egg cream and though many of the details of Harriet’s life are as peculiar to them as to me, back in 1974 in an Upper West Side apartment — a brownstone, a nanny, maid, and a cook, and spending all summer away in a country house. Harriet is also on the list of banned and challenged books; apparently it was banned from schools after its publication in 1964, though I can’t find anything details, and it was challenged in 1983 in Ohio school libraries because it “teaches children to lie, spy, back-talk, and curse.”

It’s obvious from the wording of the challenge that the adult(s) lodging it either didn’t read the book or didn’t understand it. I can’t imagine any children, including my three now or my 10-year-old self, taking away as the important lessons of the book how to spy, back-talk, and curse; though there is the lesson that, yes, sometimes you have to lie, because, as Ole Golly explains, “Otherwise you are going to lose a friend. Little lies that make people feel better are not bad, like thanking someone for a meal they made even if you hated it … But to yourself you must always tell the truth”. Any adult who really reads Harriet the Spy will know, as any child does, what the book’s true lessons are:

“It won’t do you a bit of good to know everything if you don’t do anything with it”

“Good manners are very important, particularly in the morning”

Enjoy afternoon tea, preferably with cake and milk

“When people don’t do anything they don’t think anything, and when they don’t think anything there’s nothing to think about them”

Write, and remember that “writing is to put love in the world, not to use against your friends”

“People who love their work love life”

You can change your mind

Guard your memories and love them, but don’t get in them and lie down

Sometimes you just have to give in, to dancing lessons and being an onion

Life is a great mystery


Dostoievsky is good stuff, especially “If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day.”

When you are eleven years old, you’re old enough to get busy at growing up to be the person you want to be

Don’t count your eggs before they vote for you

You will get through the rough patches and have a nice life

5 Responses

  1. OMG, I so wanted to be Harriet when I was in grade school. I made my parents call me Harriet (although only my mother remembered) and give me tomato sandwiches for lunch. The only thing I had trouble with was the journal writing. I had a hard time mustering enough resentment.

    I love that book. Honestly. This shouldn’t be called Banned Books; it should be called Things Stupid People Have Done To Books.

  2. By the way, if you ever find out how to make an egg cream, send the recipe my way. I never did find one that sounded like the ones Harriet drank.

  3. Sheila, I don’t like anything fizzy so I’m more the milk shake than egg cream type. But for the latter you definitely need Fox’s U-Bet Syrup. The Fox folks are still around and this is their recipe,


    Here’s another one, focusing more on method,


    Bottoms up : )

  4. The diet police will be after you for circulating those recipes ;-P

  5. Seltzer is calorie-free ; P !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: