Monthly Archives: May 2019

The Mozart Effect

[N.B. that this quote contains an apparent error, to wit that number 488 in the Kochel Catalogue is not a sonata for two pianos, but rather the composer’s 23rd piano concerto.]

Mozart effect: A finding, first reported in the journal Nature in 1993, that listening to compositions by Mozart increases scores on tests of spatial ability for a short while. In the original experiment, college students were given various tests after experiencing each of the following for ten minutes: listening to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos in D major K488, listening to a relaxation tape, or silence. Performance on the paper-folding subtest of the Stanford-Binet intelligence scale was significantly better after listening to Mozart than after the other two treatments, but the effect dissipated after about 15 minutes, and other (non-spatial) tasks were unaffected. The finding has been contested by other researchers and has been widely misinterpreted to imply that listening to Mozart (or listening to classical music) increases one’s intelligence. Several independent research studies have shown that children who receive extensive training in musical performance achieve significant higher average scores on tests of spatial ability, but that long-term consequence is not the Mozart effect.

[Named after the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-9100]”

Excerpted from: Colman, Andrew M., ed. Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Word Root Exercise: Cardio

Finally, on this Friday afternoon, before I leave for an appointment at the dentist, here is a worksheet on the on the Greek word root cardi/o. It means heart, which you probably already knew, but also, apparently, orifice.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Term of Art: Higher Order Thinking

“Advanced intellectual abilities that go beyond basic information processing. Higher order thinking involves such abilities as concept formation, understanding rules, problem-solving skills, and the ability to look at information from multiple perspectives.

Students exercise their higher order thinking when they analyze, synthesize, and evaluate materials to which they have been exposed, The construction or creation of new material also requires higher order thinking.

In general, abilities in the area of higher order thinking are closely linked to intellectual capacity. However, individuals with learning disabilities who have underlying information processing deficits may appear to have difficulties with higher order activities. This may be especially true with higher order tasks involving a verbal component for students with language-based learning problems.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Saint George and the Dragon

Given the prevalence of its symbolism, particularly in Europe, I think this Cultural Literacy worksheet on Saint George and the Dragon ought to be able to find a home in most classrooms.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Advancing Color

“A strong, usually unadulterated warm or hot color (red, orange, or yellow) which appears to come to the fore of a picture plane.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Purview (n)

Friday afternoon, and it feels like summer in Western Massachusetts. If you think your students should know the word and concept, here is a context clues worksheet on the noun purview.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.


“Hinduism: A system of religious beliefs and social customs, especially influential in India. As both a way of life and a rigorous system of religious law, Hinduism developed over period of about 50 centuries. Unlike most religions, it requires no one belief regarding the nature of God: it embraces polytheism, monotheism, and monism. More important are the beliefs concerning the nature of the Universe and the structure of society. The former is described by the key concepts of dharma, the eternal law underlying the whole of existence; karma, the law of action by which each cause has an effect in an endless chain reaching from one life to the next; and moksha, liberation from this chain of birth, death and rebirth. The latter is prescribed by by the ideals of varna, the division of mankind into four classes or types, the forerunner of caste; ashrama , the four stages of life; and personal dharma, according to which one’s religious duty is defined by birth and circumstance. There are an estimated 705 million Hindus in the world.

Hindu revivalism arose from Hindu encounters with western ideas in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are many thinkers and ideas associated with the process. Raja Ram Mohun Roy (1772-1833) was the forerunner of new Hinduism; he learned English, located Hindu ideas in the context of Western ones in order to promote Hindu self-understanding, and founded the reform movement the Brahmo Samaj (Society of God). Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905) was his successor as the leader of the society; he explicitly questioned the infallibility of the Vedas and called for an experimental spirituality based on the aphorisms of the Upanishads. The most famous figure was Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), who claimed that Vedanta was the Hindu exemplification of that oneness to which all religions aspired, and that the idea and practice of tolerance and universality were India’s gift to the world; he admired Western self-confidence and scientific success, and formed a model of mutual influence in which the West taught its material skills to India, which reciprocated with its spiritual teachings. Dayananda Saraswati (1824-83), founder of the Arya Samaj (Society of Aryans), tried to emphasize the global significance of Vedic teachings by discerning scientific and technological ideas in them.

The term ‘Hindu revivalism’ is used to describe an ideology of nationalism based on allegedly Hindu values that is professed by some groups (notably the BJP party) in contemporary Indian politics.”

Excerpted from: Wright, Edmund, Ed. The Oxford Desk Encyclopedia of World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

The Weekly Text, May 31, 2019

Well, we’ve reached the end of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2019. I’d say May has passed quickly, but I suspect that for most classroom teachers like me, May is, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, the cruelest month.

To ring out the month, here is a reading on the Hindu Epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, along with the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that attends it.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.


8 Trigrams of the I-Ching

“Ch’ien * Tui * Li * Chen * Sun * K’an * Ken * Kun

The I-Ching or Zhouyi, or the Book of Changes is the oldest of the Chinese classics, going back to oral traditions and observations of mankind at least 4,000 years old. It is essentially a collection of six-line hexagrams which are arranged in a textual eightfold pattern, which come with a set of linked values, such as an image in nature, a compass direction and an associated animal. By the use of chance (the casting of coins, dice, yarrow stalks or whatever), the sequences can be changed so that different groups of six-line hexagrams are read together, which gives it the force of a horoscope, managing questions with a cryptic and ever-changing set of responses.

The eight trigrams each have an association with a form of male or female energy, a place, a direction of the compass and a characteristic animal. For instance, the Ch’ien trigram is associated with creative force, with Heaven, the northwest, and the horse; the Tui with joyous openness, lake, west, sheep; Li, with beauty and radiant awareness, fire, south, and pheasant; Chen, with action and movement, thunder, east and dragon; Sun, with following and penetration, with wind, the south-east, and the fowl; K’an, with danger and peril, water, north, and the pig; Ken, with stopping and resting still, with mountains, the north-east and the wolf/dog; Kun with receptive, earth, southwest and the cow.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.


Everyday Edit: Chinese New Year

Here is an Everyday Edit on the Chinese New Year. If you like these exercises (in my experience, students enjoy them, and they can be a real confidence builder for struggling readers and writers), you can click through to Education World, whose authors generously offer a yearlong supply of them.

My usual entreaty about peer review and typo alerts don’t apply here: I didn’t write this, and the typos in the worksheet are for your students to note and correct.