Should have read classics discussion

Children's Group Read > Understood Betsy

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message 1: by Lisa, the usurper (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
This is the children's group read for May. I have never heard of this one and can't wait to read it! Please remember spoiler alerts in the early part of the early parts of the discussion thread. Happy reading!

message 2: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 68 comments I have just bought from Amazon for my Kindle The Works of Dorothy Canfield Fisher for US$3.70. It has these titles in it -
The Bent Twig
• The Brimming Cup
• Hillsboro People
• Home Fires in France
• Rough-Hewn
• The Squirrel-Cage
• Understood Betsy
• What Shall We Do Now?


message 3: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I haven't started the book yet, but I enjoyed the introduction talking about the author. She sounds pretty amazing - quite ahead of her time. is the Wikipedia entry which mentions some of the things in the introduction.

message 4: by Lisa, the usurper (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
I'm trying to get this book from the library, but it seems to be taking forever.

message 5: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I don't know much about Montessori education, but I think I am learning a bit about some of the philosophy from reading the book.

message 6: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 68 comments Great children's group read. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

I almost wonder if this was written to promote the Montessori style of education and how adults should treat children.

That said, it is a book written for 8-10 year old girls that is very reminiscent of it's era and reminds me of another series I have that is written by Josephine Lawrence, also about an Elizabeth Ann.

That's all I'll say for now since Lisa, and possibly others, are still to read it.

message 7: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder Enjoying the contrast between two kinds of educational systems taking place in the early 1900's. Reminds me of the differences between my education in the 1960's and the educational system of today.

message 8: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I thought it was a sweet story - it gave me a good feel for Montessori education but I didn't feel like it was overly preachy.

message 9: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder This book is still extremely popular. There were three copies in our children's library. All of the copies are well-worn. I doubt the book would still be popular if it were preachy.

message 10: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 68 comments I didn't consider it preachy and I don't think I said that. Given Montessori was considered a new system of education, what better way of drawing the contrasts between old and alternative.

In fact being familiar with the Montessori system for some time, I have always thought there was merit in combining the best of two. In the mid 1970s my son attended an experimental school from the time he was six and a half to 10 years old where the open plan classroom described in Understanding Betsy was in place allowing students to study subjects at the level they were capable of. Many parents at the time wrung their hands with anxiety, but I was all for it having experienced the same learning environment, but because I, like Betsy, was in a small school. We also learned a lot more by 'doing' - just one example is growing plants in the school gardens learning life skills and science/nature study aspects about insects and photosynthesis. Much more interesting, tends to stick in the mind better than straight book learning. Much more fun too.

message 11: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder I was thinking that perhaps the author was showing the contrast between city life and country life. At this time in American history, most people still lived on farms but were leaving them for the city. In the process, a part of American life and culture was disappearing. Betsy experienced both and the author clearly demonstrates which life she feels is superior.

I don't know if she is demonstrating Montessori principles of education or just contrasting the educational styles of a country education in a one-room schoolhouse (considered old-fashion in this book) to the more modern graded system in the cities.

Education was very important to Dorothy Canfield Fisher. My edition's biography (1993) says that she was the first and only woman to be on Vermont's state board of education.

message 12: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Ella's Gran - I'm the one who said something about preachy (that I didn't think it was too preachy). But I'm glad you posted again because you had such good points about the open plan classroom. I remember those!

I felt like the book gave me some good ideas about interacting with my grandchildren by letting them do things. And I especially loved the last couple chapters.

message 13: by Lisa, the usurper (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
Apparently, I meant to read this one next month since my library lost my order. Oh well, I have enjoyed the conversations and it has sparked my interest more than ever. Thanks for the good discussion!

message 14: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 68 comments Suzanne wrote: "Ella's Gran - I'm the one who said something about preachy (that I didn't think it was too preachy). But I'm glad you posted again because you had such good points about the open plan classroom. ..."

I wonder why they stopped the open plan classroom learning in state schools. They still exist here (NZ) in private schools, but looking back at my education I feel they were most successful. And where my son was concerned, if he was ahead in his reading level and interest, he wasn't "held back" with the rest of the class so he didn't get bored and become a nuisance - which he was very good at!! He was always being stimulated. The other thing I think was good about that style of learning was it allowed you to explore and investigate, although I think it aided my 'why' side which used to infuriate people sometimes.:)

Here's a thing I did with my grands which I remembered from school. I put some absorbent paper (blotting paper in my day) in a clear glass jar and filled the jar with some soil. I put a couple of bean seeds between the glass and paper, and a couple in the soil. Water it and watch them grow. You can see the roots forming in the between glass and paper seeds, and at the same time the plant growing in the soil. Shows the kids what is happening underground. I did two jars putting one in a darker place and one in good light so they could see how the light causes the green in plants. Don't put it in full sunlight though or it will get to hot and cook the seeds.
Have fun!!

message 15: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne What a fun idea. I think they would love that - and I would too. Thanks!

message 16: by Sorento62 (new)

Sorento62 | 71 comments The narrator's voice and point of view was a bit heavy-handed in this book, but overall I loved it. It made me cry (in a good way), and maybe it's not so bad that the author speaks directly to the reader because she is teaching us. And teaching us very important things. Very worthwhile overall, even if not flawless.

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