Category Archives: Quotes

Quotes, from a variety of sources, related to teaching and learning–somewhat more loosely defined than in other categories on Mark’s Text Terminal.

George Bernard Shaw on Newspapers

“A newspaper is a device unable to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization.”

George Bernard Shaw

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Art Nouveau

“Primarily a movement in decoration and applied design at the end of the 19th century. Its influence spread through Europe and pervaded painting, architecture, and, ultimately, even music and literature before fading with the advent of World War I. Occurring in reaction to the eclecticism of the 19th century, art nouveau was hailed as totally original and unprecedented. Central to the aesthetic was organic fluidity, evoked by the plantlike or serpentine curves that are its hallmark. In Germany art nouveau was called Jugendstil (‘youth style’), after the journal Jugend (1896); other contemporary reviews reflecting the trend and its shaping influences were Pan (1895-1900), Beardsley’s Yellow Book (1894) and Ver Sacrum (1898), the organ of the Vienna Secession. In painting, the works of Klimt and the Belgian Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) are exemplary, but numerous other artists were caught up in the movement. The ornate Spanish buildings of Antonio Gaudi and the Paris Metro stations of Hector Guimard (1867-1942) are the most famous architectural manifestations. The posters of Theophile Steinlen (1852-1923), the stage designs of Leon Bakst (1866-1924), the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, and the glassware of Louis Tiffany are all outstanding decorative applications of art nouveau. Ultimately, the movement deteriorated to a trite and superficial fashion, but its influence continues to be seen in surviving artifacts and occasional revivals of art nouveau decoration.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Term of Art: Social System

“The concept of a system appears throughout the social and natural sciences and has generated a body of literature of its own (‘general systems theory’). A system is any pattern of relationships between elements, and is regarded as having emergent properties of its own, over an above the properties of its elements. The system is seen as possessing an inherent tendency towards equilibrium and the analysis of systems is the analysis of mechanisms which maintain equilibrium, both internally and externally, in relation to other systems.

The functionalism of Talcott Parsons offers the fullest employment of systems theory in sociology (see especially The Social System, 1951). In Parsonsonian terms, social system can refer to a stable relationship between two actors, to societies as a whole, to systems of societies, or indeed any level between these. All are analyzed principally in terms of their so-called cybernetic aspects; that is, as systems of information exchange and control, where equilibrium is maintained through symbolic exchanges with other systems across boundaries, In economic systems, for example, the exchange is not usually direct but mediated by money. Power is the medium of exchange in political systems.

More recently Anthony Giddens, (Central Problems in Social Theory, 1979) has criticized this conception of the social system on the grounds that systems do not possess emergent properties over and above the social actors who comprise them, but are rather produced and reproduced by structured and routine social practices. The systematic properties of social systems thus stem from the nature of social action rather than the system itself.”

Excerpted from: Matthews, Gordon, ed. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Satan’s 13 Peers of Hell

“Beelzebub * Moloch * Chemos * Peor * Baalem * Ashtoreth/Astarte * Thammuz/Adonis * Dagon * Rimmon * Osiris * Isis * Horus * Belial

In Book One of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan, having been expelled from Heaven, falls ‘nine times the space that measures day and night’ into Hell’s cavern. In this ‘dismal situation waste and wild, a dungeon horrible on all sides round as one great furnace flamed’ he rears up from a pool of liquid fire to offer words of comfort to the fallen cherubs. One by one, Milton identifies and to a certain extent creates the thirteen chief captains of Hell, from his own selective reading of the mythology of the ancient Near East, who follow ‘their great Emperor’s call’ in order to stand beside him. These Peers of Hell are a bad lot–‘besmeared with blood,’ fomentors of ‘lustful orgies’ and ‘wanton passions of the sacred porch’–and summon myriad other fallen angels to arms with a shout that ‘frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.'”

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.

Daniel Willingham on Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension

“Research shows that depth of vocabulary matters to reading comprehension. Children identified as having difficulty in reading comprehension (but who can decode well) do not have the depth of word knowledge that typical readers do. When asked to provide a word definition, they provide fewer attributes. When asked to produce examples of categories (“name as many flowers as you can) they produce fewer. They have a harder time describing the meaning of figurative language, like the expression ‘a pat on the back.’ They are slower and more error-prone in judging if two words are synonyms, although they have no problem making a rhyming judgement.”

Excerpted from: Willingham, Daniel T. The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2017.


“Neologism (noun): A newly coined word or phrase, or novel expression in increasing usage (as contrasted with a nonce word); a new meaning for an old word. Adjective: neological, neologistic; noun: neology, neologist; verb: neologize.

‘He landed in lexicography footnotes first, with an appendix to his M.A. thesis—listing neologisms committed by English romantic poets.’” Israel Shenker, Harmless Drudges.

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Rotten Rejections: A Man of Property (from The Forsyte Saga)

“Take your long novel down the street to my friend William Heinemann who specializes in fiction, and sit down and write a play for me–I think you’d do that well.”


The author writes to please himself rather than to please the novel reading public and accordingly his novel lacks popular qualities…the average reader may be pardoned if he fails to become interested in the intricate family relations involved in the opening chapters of the book…from beginning to end there is not one really admirable character, and it is hard to feel sympathy even for those who undergo sorrow and suffering.”


“…the slight plot, the fact that all the characters are distinctly British, both seem to make it clear that the volume would not have any real sale in this country….”

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