• 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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Harold Bloom’s advice

Harold Bloom, the author, literary critic, and professor, in today’s New York Times, “Out of Panic, Self-Reliance” (emphasis mine):

The similarities between the crashes of 1837 and 1929 are evident again today. I am not an economist or a political scientist, but having been born in 1930, I retain poignant early memories of the impact of the Great Depression upon my father, a working man who struggled to maintain a family with five children in a very hard time. I am a scholar of literature and religion, and would advise whoever becomes president to turn to Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose influential vision of America was deeply informed by the crisis of 1837

Read the rest here. Some Emersonian essays for potential Presidents to read:

“Self-Reliance”, from Essays, First Series; one of lessons that made the deepest impression on me in reading Marva Collins’ Way was her teaching of the essay to even her youngest students (“‘Now’, she said, ‘self-reliance means to believe in yourself. … Mr. Emerson is telling us to trust our own thoughts, to think for ourselves and not worry about what other people tell us to think’.”)

“Prudence”*, from Essays, First Series

“Wealth”**, from The Conduct of Life

Five years ago, Professor Bloom reminded us that the Sage of Concord still had much to teach us; as Prof. Bloom wrote in The Guardian then,

Fundamentally, America in 1860 and in 2003 are little different. Our current bruisers (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al) are distinctly not “frank and direct, and above falsehood”, because they come from the corporate world, but certainly they know “how much crime the people will bear”, and much of the opposition we can muster is, alas “snivelling”. An uncanny ironist, as a prophet must be, Emerson is archetypically American in his appreciation of power: “In history, the great moment is, when the savage is just ceasing to be a savage, with all his hairy Pelasgic strength directed on his opening sense of beauty – and you have Pericles and Phidias – not yet passed over into the Corinthian civility. Everything good in nature and the world is in that moment of transition, when the swarthy juices still flow plentifully from nature, but their astringency or acridity is got out by ethics and humanity.”

Self-reliance has been a popular subject here at Farm School, both our home school and the blog, because I think it’s one of the most important lessons and virtues we can learn ourselves and teach our children. Preferably before we are in dire need of a bit of it. A few other posts:

Back to school

All roads lead to home and hard work

Further thoughts on self-esteem and self-confidence

Little Heathens and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in The Christian Science Monitor

More from Millie Kalish

* Here’s a bit from “Prudence”: “But what man shall dare tax another with imprudence? Who is prudent? The men we call greatest are least in this kingdom. There is a certain fatal dislocation in our relation to nature, distorting our modes of living, and making every law our enemy, which seems at last to have aroused all the wit and virtue in the world to ponder the question of Reform. We must call the highest prudence to counsel, and ask why health and beauty and genius should now be the exception, rather than the rule, of human nature? We do not know the properties of plants and animals and the laws of nature through our sympathy with the same; but this remains the dream of poets. Poetry and prudence should be coincident. Poets should be lawgivers; that is, the boldest lyric inspiration should not chide and insult, but should announce and lead, the civil code, and the day’s work. But now the two things seem irreconcilably parted. We have violated law upon law, until we stand amidst ruins, and when by chance we espy a coincidence between reason and the phenomena, we are surprised.”

** And a bit from “Wealth”: “Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer. He fails to make his place good in the world, unless he not only pays his debt, but also adds something to the common wealth. Nor can he do justice to his genius, without making some larger demand on the world than a bare subsistence. He is by constitution expensive, and needs to be rich.”

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2 Responses

  1. I just read this from Sunday’s times while drinking my tea this am. Thanks for the extra info. And I hear that Millie Kalish will be at a local bookstore sometime this month. There’s a writer I will go to see!

  2. I hope you get to go, Mary Lou. She sounds delightful, and it would be interesting to hear her thoughts on current events. You could sit, knit, drink tea, and listen!

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