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    Norms and Nobility Book Club

    April 6, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    Okay. I think I’ve made a decision. I really don’t want to restrict myself to a real-life book club. What I mean is, I can already tell I’m going to want to blog my way through this book. I am slowly feasting on the prologue, and it is as satisfying to read as Poetic Knowledge. Every family I’ve met {in real life or through blogs and articles} that seems to understand the classical model of education–not just its practices, but its principles–tends to reference this book. Couple that with my commitment to read at least one book on educational philosophy and practice each year, and it was a match made in heaven.

    So here she is, folks:

    Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education
    by David V. Hicks

    I apologize for the fact that this book is priced more like a college textbook than a nice little paperback. My hunch is that it is a college textbook, since my copy is a beautiful hardback that used to sit on the shelves of the Cubberley Education Library at Stanford University. I got it at least ten dollars cheaper than the list price, by the way.

    And apparently the folks at Stanford rarely opened the book because it’s about twenty years old, but in pristine condition.

    Anyhow, here is what I’m dreaming up. I’m not yet sure of the pace. I need to go through the book a bit more to find out what would be appropriate. My goal is not to race through a bunch of books this summer but to spend the entire summer marinating in one really good book.

    With that said, I will still try to have my in-person book club beginning after the conclusion of Term Three, which means sometime in June. However, I’m going to say now that if I don’t have at least four or five women committed, I’m probably not going to do it. My purpose is to discuss with a variety of perspectives and possible applications. However, if you are local and there are only two of us we will meet at least once.

    Whatever the pace of the book club in real life is, that’ll be the pace on the blog. I’ll try to master the use of a Mr. Linky widget so that everyone can link their posts. If you do not have a blog, but wish to participate, let me know and I am more than willing to post your thoughts here on Afterthoughts. I’ll just call you a guest blogger or something. Alternately, you could just participate in the comments, if that is more your style. Or, you could start a blog for the purpose of participating in book clubs like this.

    I was going to write more about the actual book, but I will save that for my next post as I’m running out of time. We have a cramped schedule today.

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  • Reply Rachel R. April 8, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I have never heard of this book! I will be following along to see what you think of it. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Rahime April 7, 2009 at 6:48 am I’m not sure if they compare every one of the sites you listed, but they do search a lot of them and will often figure in shipping (though I think not tax) into the overall price.

    I think you can count me in for the book-club over blog…I’m not terribly good at consistency, but if its during summer I should be able to pull it off. πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Kansas Mom April 7, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Thanks for the suggestions. I almost always carry a list of books with me. Did you know you can export your PBS wishlist to Excel? I do that every once in a while and modify it with others. I also like to note the Amazon used price (plus shipping) for comparison, but it takes time to add that.

    I’ve found that the more children’s books I read, even above their current reading levels, the more familiar I am with the authors and illustrators we value. It’s a great asset when at book sales.

    I’m happy to have the website suggestions, though. For the first time in a long time I’ll be searching for books we really need to buy (for school!) and not just adding them to the wish lists and waiting around for them to show up in our mailbox.

  • Reply Brandy April 7, 2009 at 2:36 am


    Good idea about the library!

    As far as book shopping, I have a couple pointers, but I am far from Expert. (1) I try to carry a list of our family library wants and needs whenever I’m going by a book sale (which isn’t too often, but fun when it happens). This way I know what to look for. I don’t know about you, but I tend to blank when faced with huge stacks of books. (2) I try to do my online shopping with four or five tabs open. This is how I school shop. I figure out the total (including tax + shipping) cost and then buy everything the cheapest way. I use: Amazon,,,, and more. AbeBooks has some great deals, but beware! Some sellers are from Canada or the UK and you can end up with International charges from your bank or credit card. Of course, when this happened to me once it was only $0.50, but still… (3) If the book is more popular, try CraigsList. Sometimes, sellers out of state will sell to you for the price of shipping. (4) Don’t give up on PBS. Recently, I had some wishlist matches that took more than a YEAR! But it was great, and I was never in a hurry. (5) For books you really want, make sure you know what a good price is. I will always kick myself for a book I passed up once that I thought was overpriced, but would have been a good deal. I just didn’t know value when I saw it. For instance, for Norms and Nobility, anything around $25 is good, anything under that is great! Of course, if you want it new, you’ll pay almost $40.

    Happy shopping…

  • Reply Kansas Mom April 7, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Brandy, I think I need some tips on where to find books at good prices (besides PaperBackSwap, that is). There are a couple of big book sales in our area, but I find such a sale is only productive for me if I can go browse without the children, a rare treat indeed.

    I am going to see if Kansas Dad’s university has this book because then he can check it out for an unlimited time.

  • Reply Brandy April 7, 2009 at 2:09 am

    I would love to have you participate. I always appreciate your thoughts, and I also love your perspective as a homeschool graduate, as I can romanticize homeschooling, having never completed the process.

    All of this to say…I hope you join us! (Or just me, as the case may be. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Mystie April 6, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I picked this one up used at a curriculum fair a couple years ago. πŸ™‚ I read it two years ago, so I can recall the major themes, but I’m weak on the details.

    I was thinking of going through an education book or two over the summer and directly applying it to the homeschooling model. If you’re doing this one, maybe I’ll choose it, too.

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