• 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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The joy of books, by ear

In the previous post, below, about author Susan Hill and reading literature in the classroom, JoVE commented about some comments in Miss Hill’s Standpoint article, about the benefits of reading aloud, even to older children.  Readalouds are a central part of our day, something which we started long before we began home schooling.  Here are the Standpoint comments (which you can read here), first from a teacher named Kit,

“To add a more positive note. I have regularly taught ‘The Woman in Black’ to GCSE students in an FE college. They have all failed the exam in school and so they aren’t the brightest or the best motivated students. I don’t believe in doing ‘bits’ of a novel or a play – it just spoils the whole thing, apart from any more academic considerations but I have to say that they way I cope with the whole text would not please any Ofsted inspector. I read the whole thing to them and they sit and listen, folowing [sic] in the text. It’s like Jackanory. They’re mostly boys and many of them are planning to join the armed services. After the first week, when they’re understandably a bit sceptical about it, they’re in the room before me, pushing the tables together so we can all sit round one space. Some even stop me round the campus to ask: ‘Are we doin’ more of that story about the ghost?’ I’m too old to care that my methods would not be seen as interactive enough. I know most of them can’t read well enough to enjoy the text on their own.”

(“Jackanory”, by the way, is a longtime BBC show similar to “Between the Lions” or “Reading Rainbow”, designed to get kids reading)

And then a reply from Miss Hill, with her own capitals preserved,

“I am absolutely DELIGHTED that they should listen to it being read to them. It does not trouble me in the least that someone else is doing the physical reading bit. That is why I am delighted that the downloaded audiobooks of the novels are extemely popular among students. They are wonderfully well read and they help them to concentrate. I published a children’s book last year for the 7-12 age range [I think it may be this] and had a letter from a teacher to say she had started to read it aloud every Thursday morning to a class of unruly 9-10 year olds with many boys among them who found it almost impossible to sit still. But they became so engrossed in her reading that nobody so much as wriggled, and they were all sitting on the mat waiting for her, eager and attentive, every Thursday. Most of them had reading difficulties but once they had heard the book, wanted to try for themselves. She also reported several who had asked parents to buy it so that they could read at home. In three cases this was the first book the parent had ever bought. I am more proud of this, as I am of hearing about the army-bound older boys listening to the reading of The Woman in Black so attentively, than I am about almost anything. I don’t want them to have to strain to analyse and answer exam questions on my ‘text’ if this is something they genuinely find difficult, I want them to read or listen to the books and find that a positive and enjoyable and enriching experience which may encourage them to read or listen to another book.”

As Casey pointed out in one of comments in the previous post, “The great think [Casey meant “thing”, but “think” works equally well in this context] about reading aloud to kids is it helps them learn to listen and sustain that auditory attention. We (Hombre more than I) do a *lot* of reading aloud to the boys. I remember my teachers up thru 5th grade reading aloud to us daily. I don’t know that there’s time for that anymore.”  It strikes me that most home educating families somehow include reading aloud in some form in the day or the week; it’s a habit that we don’t seem to outgrow once the kids “get too old” for picture books (mine haven’t yet) or start school.

Here we read aloud for fun and for school work.  For school books, whether the subject is literature, history, or science, it’s a wonderful way to cover the same subject with three kids of different ages, helping us to stay on the same page.  I’ve also noticed that my kids, unlike their mother, are very good and careful listeners, which I put down to once- or twice-a-day readalouds from the time they were babies.

Since we’re talking about listening to books, I’m going to stick add our incomplete and highly subjective list of audiobook and podcast links here, since Laura received an iPod Nano from her grandparents for Christmas, and I’m in charge of the syncing.  It was my idea to get her an iPod, as a way to manage the vast collection of CDs that seems to filter down from our main floor to her basement bedroom and also to give her access to various podcasts without having to burn them on CD (and further add to our unwieldy collection).  Laura’s iPod came with strings, and I’m not talking about the earbuds: first, the gizmo is a tool and not a toy; it will contain a healthy amount of the spoken word and audiobooks in addition to music; and it will be listened to mainly with speakers (I found an inexpensive alarm clock radio/dock with speakers which was under the tree, too) rather than earbuds and won’t make too many appearances out of the house other than for airplane trips.

Russell Educational Consultancy and Productions’ (RECAP’s) podcast directory for educators, schools, and colleges; a UK website I haven’t even begun to explore properly

Prufrock Press’s list of “Podcasts for Gifted Kids”, eminently suitable too for those who happen to be bright and motivated. Though the list of National Geographic‘s podcasts includes only the Dog Whisperer and not what Laura finds much more appealing, NG’s Traveler Magazine “Walks” podcasts.  And I’m looking forward to the White House podcasts, especially the Presidential Speeches and the Presidential Weekly Radio Address, but not until later this month, I think.

On the Prufrock list, you’ll find Colonial Williamsburg’s podcast page, where if you scroll down to the bottom of the list and click on “People”, you’ll find all sorts of interesting things, including categories for “Historical figures” (“Hear the words that were catalyst to the Revolution, read by Bill Barker, Colonial Williamsburg’s Thomas Jefferson”), “African Americans”, and “Women”.

PBS’s “American Experience” (favorites include podcasts on Riding the Rails, FDR, Minik the Lost Eskimo, Buffalo Bill, Kit Carson, Annie Oakley, the Gold Rush, Hoover Dam, the Fourth of July 1826, Remember the Alamo, and Coney Island)

“Animal Planet” podcasts, some of which (Jane Goodall, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom) are better than others

CBC Radio’s “The Best of Ideas”, which archives podcasts only for four weeks

CBC Radio’s “Vinyl Cafe”

BBC’s “Great Lives” (Paul Robeson, Alfred Russel Wallace, George Cruikshank)

PBS’s NOVA, with oodles of science and history subjects

NPR’s “Hmmm… (Robert) Krulwich on Science”

NPR’s “Present at the Creation”

NPR’s “Story of the Day”

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (from William Bowler to Victoria Woodhull to Piltdown Man)

Scientific American‘s Science Talk

The Engines of Our Ingenuity, written and hosted by John Lienhard and others, on National Public Radio

How Stuff Works, especially the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast

WNYC’s “Please Explain” with Leonard Lopate

Last summer I somehow tripped over the Children’s Vinyl Record Series website, which appeals to me because I had a great number of those LPs as a child.  In fact, I still have them, but the record player is in the living room.  The website, with downloadable zip MP3 files, is much more handy.  You can find old Tale Spinners records, with a full cast and classical music telling everything from fairy tales to composers’ biographies (“The Story of Chopin”) to more advanced literature (“The Count of Monte Cristo”)

Golden Records, with some Danny Kaye, “A Child’s Introduction to” everything from the Orchestra, Gilbert & Sullivan, Mozart & Beethoven, Spanish, French, Jazz (with Bob Keeshan aka Captain Kangaroo)

Riverside Wonderland, with “Songs Children Sing: France” (one of my childhood favorites, and there are versions too for Germany and Italy), more “A Child’s Introduction to” records, including Jazz again (this one narrated by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley), Ballet with Moira Shearer, Multiplication, and Shakespeare

If you love old LPs and things such as Kiddie Records Weekly, which I just found out is back for one more year in 2009, Children’s Vinyl Records will be right up your alley.

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8 Responses

  1. Becky, thanks for the inclusive list–ds (10) got an iPod for his birthday last year, and I’ve been wondering what he might enjoy having on it. Great suggestions, as usual!

    ~Christina

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thomas will thank you, too.

    The last time my mom read a book out loud to me was when I was 21. I was working in South Dakota, she came up to spend a week with me one spring. Every day she had my lunch waiting on the table for me, which I snarfed, and we snuggled up on the couch. That week she read to me The Good Earth. I will never forget either the book or the time spent. Loved them both.

    We love to snuggle up for read-alouds here.

  3. This is probably a little adult for the new Possessor of the iPod, but I LOVE In Our Time, with Melvyn Bragg. He has a great show, with specialists on everything from the library at Nineveh to the lifestyles of the Rich and Pharaoh (okay, so I made that one up, but check him out at the BBC). This week’s offerings are all Darwin-related, too.

    The BBC also has a farming show, with the most unusual but topical issues being discussed regularly (like where have all the bees gone). And one of my favourites: Friday Night Comedy. It’s filled with silly double entendres.

    If you go to the homepage of BBC radio you’ll find these, but in the off chance that they are harder to find than I am imagining, email me and I’ll give you direct links.

  4. Christina, I hope your son is enjoying it as much as my daughter is!

    Frankie, you’re welcome, and thanks so much for sharing that wonderful memory.

    Sheila, yes, IOT isn’t a big favorite of Laura’s, at least not yet (it’s like some of the CBC’s Ideas shows — have you caught the recent one on Science?) but I like it and since I don’t have an iPod, I batch them up and put them on a CD to listen to; I know, very old-fashioned. There was a good natural history show, also on Radio 4, but that seems to have disappeared. Also very good are “Discovery” and “Documentary”, neither I think on Radio 4. Darn, now I’ll have to check and update the list above! Oh, and I don’t subscribe to any of the podcasts. To keep things from getting overwhelming, I just cherry pick the interesting individual ones and download them.

  5. I’ve gotten a little hooked on The Point lately, but sometimes I do despair over the CBC. I miss all those old Ideas shows. But I know exactly what you mean – they are a bit dense. My gauge is always “Would Max be able to grasp this?” Most of the time my answer is “Who are you kidding?”

    Don’t fret about the CD thing – that would be ME if Richard hadn’t received a free iPod when he started work here – and got his free computer as a genuine faculty person. It came with it (and he knew that he had to give it to me if he wanted a peaceful life). I don’t listen to it a whole lot, but it’s pretty fun having those podcasts (the BBC podcasted the entire season of Dr Who commentary too, which was WONDERFUL). It’s also loaded with Jim Weiss stories should we find ourselves stuck somewhere, en masse. The twins can each take an ear bud. I’m sure we must horrify some of my Super TechGeek buddies…

  6. Becky, I don’t know if your daughter is “too old” for Classics for Kids, but they just added podcasting within the last few months. Three composers so far are featured via podcast (Schubert, Bizet, and Beethoven) and the holiday specials are in there, too.

    http://www.classicsforkids.com/

    ~Christina

  7. Christina, no, not too old — she’ll listen to just about anything as long as it’s accompanied by classical music (which might be a good idea when it comes to math and some science!). I downloaded a few of the CforK podcasts in December, but then we have all of the “Classical Kids” CDs and a number of the VOX Introduction to the Classics, plus various music stories from Kiddie Records and the Children’s Vinyl Records websites. I’m thinking with all the goodies one can find, you’d need two iPods and four heads to listen to it all!

  8. […] Farmschool Post –Joy of Books by Ear […]

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