Monthly Archives: June 2021

Walter Lippmann on the Creation of Perception

“The subtlest and most pervasive of all influences are those which create and maintain the repertory of stereotypes. We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them.”

Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion ch. 6 (1922)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Bull Market

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of a bull market. This is a half-page worksheet with three questions. The reading is one compound sentence on one line which nonetheless manages to contrast bear markets with bull markets. In other words, a succinct general introduction to the topic.

Enough, in other words, for students to understand the symbolism of the cast bronze sculpture Charging Bull on lower Broadway, right by Bowling Green Park, in Manhattan.

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: Self-Concept

“self-concept: The way a person sees himself or herself including all the beliefs, feelings, and attitudes. Self-concept can also. affect how one feels about others.

Self-concept is a subject  that has fascinated philosophers from earliest times. In the field of psychology, self-concept has always been an important and sometimes controversial subject. William James and Mary Calkins used methods of introspection to study the self, while Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler all discussed the development of the self in their writing.

During the the 1950s and 1960s, the ‘self concept’ was a central idea in the work of both Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. Maslow believed that building self-esteem, an individual’s evaluation of self-worth, was a key step in the self-actualization process. Rogers believed that if one had a positive view of the self, then one would view the world in a positive way. If the self-view were negative, one would fall short of the goals related to the ideal self. As a part of this perspective, Donald Super developed a related theory of vocational choice. He believed that career satisfaction was related to the degree to which someone could implement his self-concept in the workplace.

Social psychologists argue that an individual’s self-concept develops through association with others. Cognitive psychologists study how people think about themselves and how they think about their own thinking. Although many criticize the term and its usefulness because it is difficult to quantify or measure consistently, it remains an important concept among educators and developmental psychologists. Both groups are concerned with the effects of the educational setting, peers, and family on child’s developing self-concept.

Individuals with learning disability, not surprisingly, often rate themselves lower than typically achieving students on cognitive ability. Because academic performance is a culturally valued domain, it makes sense that individuals with learning disabilities would also place importance on academic performance.

Some research suggests that for colleges students with learning disabilities, the availability of a social support network, including clubs, disability services, and interactions with professors, is a correlate of self-esteem. Other research of successful adults with learning disabilities gives insight into how to nurture emotional health while managing the challenge that a disability entails. Researchers studied moderately successful and highly successful adults with learning disabilities to identify factors related to their success. Success was defined as high ratings in the following categories: income level, job classification, education level, career prominence and job satisfaction.

Other research focuses on resilience–the healthy adaptation in the context of severe stress. Despite the challenges and hardships that can accompany having a learning disability, some individual maintain a positive outlook, achieve success, and avoid emotional problems. Important characteristics of resilient individuals include accuracy of self-appraisal, self-determination, and help from a significant important person.”

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


Here is a reading on causation along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. How much demand will you see for these documents? Well, that depends on your students.

In 16 years of teaching in New York City, I used this set of documents two or three times at the most. I wrote them for one particular student with a surpassing interest in philosophy, but little interest in anything else school offered him. In any case, this is a short reading that touches on the philosophical conundrum of causality. This might be a way to introduce students to the topic, then take them on a short analytical excursion through one of the most commonly committed logical fallacies, post hoc ergo propter hoc–“after this, therefore because of this.”

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.

Rotten Reviews: What the Light Was Like

Rotten Reviews: What the Light Was Like

“…it would be better for Amy Clampitt if, at least for a while, she tucked her notes from Poetry 101 away in a trunk.”


Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Word Root Exercise: Astro, Aster

Here is a worksheet on the Greek word roots astro and aster. They mean, as you have doubtlessly already inferred, star.

These are hard working roots in English, pushing into fruition words like asterisk, asteroid, astronaut, and astronomy.

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.

Book of Answers: Jeeves’s Boss

“Who was Jeeves’s boss? Bertie Wooster, a young man-about-town in P.G. Wodehouse’s stories beginning with My Man Jeeves (1919). Jeeves was his valet.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Equivocal (adj)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective equivocal. This is a word freighted with a number of closely related meanings: “subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse <an ~ statement>”;  “uncertain as an indication or sign <~ evidence>”;  “of uncertain nature or classification <~ shapes>”; of uncertain disposition toward a person or thing <an ~ attitude>,” and “of doubtful advantage, genuineness, or moral rectitude.” Merriam-Webster offers obscure as a synonym–so you see the problem here.

You can probably see or hear the Latin roots equ and equi–i.e. equal in this word. In fact, using Latin word roots, one can easily see two of them work, equ and equi as above, along with voc–“to call, voice.” The word means equal voice, which certainly squares with obscure, particularly as the number of voices in an equivocal statement increases.

As I prepared to post this, I went looking for a context clues worksheet on the verb equivocate. To my surprise, I haven’t produced one yet. Since verbs are the workhorses of language, I try to lead with them where context clues worksheets are concerned. In this case, after looking at the definition of equivocate, “to use equivocal language esp. with intent to deceive” and “to avoid committing oneself in what one says,” I see why I started with the adjective. In any case, a worksheet on the verb is forthcoming.

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.

A Welcome Insight from The Washington Post

Here is something that popped up in The Washington Post that came over the transom last weekend. It’s long overdue, but better late than never.

American Scene Painting

“American Scene Painting: A term that has extended and supplanted the term regionalism. It had come to include several movements from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries in which painters chose limited areas or aspects of distinctly American landscapes or life as their subjects and rendered them in a direct, usually literal style. Includes the landscapes of Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt and the regionalist painters of the Middle West.”

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