Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Schoolhouses Are Made Wrong"

While decluttering my basement I went through a box of antique books that my paternal grandmother gave me. One book was falling apart, its leather cover completly off. I was going to just toss it, out of feeling I have too much stored stuff. But I decided to read a bit and I randomly opened to page 404 of "Laddie a True Blue Story". (I didn't find out until later when I sought Google's help that the author is Gene Stratton-Porter and this was published in 1913. My copy is missing the page that was to inform the reader of said facts.

When I read this I of course was thinking, "Homeschooling is this! Homeschooling is this!".

"Schoolhouses are made wrong. If they must be, they should be built in a woods pasture beside a stream, where you could wade, swim, and be comfortable in summer, and slide and skate in winter. The windows should be cut to the floor, and stand wide open, so the birds and butterflies could pass through. You ought to learn your geography by climbing a hill, walking through a valley, wading creeks, making islands in them, and promontories, capes, and peninsulas along the bank. You should do your arithmetic sitting under tress adding hickorynuts, subtracting walnuts, multiplying butternuts, and dividing hazelnuts. You could use apples for fractions, and tin cups for liquid measure. You could spell everything in sight and this would teach you the words that are really used in the world. Every single one of us could spell incompatibility, but I never heard father, or the judge, or even the Bishop, put it in a speech."

I loved that!

I first heard of the author Gene Stratton-Porter on a chat list mainly comprised of Christian homeschoolers who favored using living books as the main staple of their children's home education. Many used also, the Charlotte Mason method of home education. I first saw the books by this author sold at a Christian homeschooling conference.

This book, "Laddie a True Blue Story" has an expired copyright from what I can summise from my Internet research. It has been reprinted by different publishers. You can read the full copy of the book on Google Books, at this URL.

The above passage begins on page 404 and there is more about Laddie's view of school learning, teachers who are strict and who switch the students for punishment and so forth.

I'm feeling rejuvinated to do more family read-aloud's, I've slipped on that lately.


Netherfieldmom said...

This is absolutely one of my all-time favorite books! I thought it was about a dog! I couldn't put it down and I agree with you--"this is what school should be", yep. Love, love, love this book. How lucky you are to have an old one.

christinethecurious said...

My Great Grandmother gave me those books to read as a pre-teen. They sure made nature study seem exciting. I wonder if the chapters of Freckles were originally serialized, they all end peacefully, but begin in new exciting (well, melodramatic) problems.

christinemm said...

The character Laddie is a boy and I think 'true blue' refers to blue herons. There are blue herons in the endcover illustrations and in that chapter there are lots of mentions of birds including blue herons.

Now I want to read this book!

My copy has an odor, a really, really old book odor that might have crossed the line into mold. It's not your typical modern day mold or mildew smell but something else. It's not your typical smell of older paper either. Maybe this is the odor of decomposing 100 year old paper. LOL.