Category Archives: Reference Materials

This category includes materials excerpted from a variety of reference books, as well as other material used as reference sources such as learning supports and style sheets.

Book of Answers: The Narrative of Gordon Pym

“Is Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838) based upon actual events? Yes, the adventures of J.N. Reynolds, a stowaway who survived a mutiny, cannibalism, and other adventures.”

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

Jerome Bruner on the Importance of Reiteration

“Children rarely [are provided work in] redefining what has been encountered, reshaping it, reordering it. The cultivation of reflectiveness is one of the great problems one faces in devising curricula: how to lead children to discover the powers and pleasures that await the exercise of retrospection.”

Jerome Bruner

Beyond the Information Given: Studies in the Psychology of Knowing

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.


“Situationism: The Situationist International was founded in 1957 with the merging of three European avant-garde literary and artistic groups. With roots in Dada’s assault on bourgeois sensibilities, the situationist movement emerged in Western Europe primarily in the 1960s. The situationists were highly politicized and theoretical, seeking, in their writings and art, to bring back meaningful social interactions to members of a depoliticized consumer society. Some artworks, such as paintings larger than buildings, blurred the boundaries between art forms. Others were altered reproductions of famous works, prefacing the reappropriated works of the 1980s and 1990s. The movement’s influence provided a theoretical base for students involved in the French general strike of 1968.”

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

Bruno Bettelheim

Bruno Bettelheim: (1903-1990) Austrian-born American psychologist, educator, and author, Bettelheim came to the U.S. in 1939 as a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. Drawing from this experience, he wrote the widely read and influential study Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations (1943). He is best known, however, for his psychiatric work with severely disturbed children and its application to the study and education of normal children. Love Is Not Enough (1950), addressed to parents and a general readership, describes his work in his Orthogenic School for emotionally disturbed children and outlines means for meeting both children’s and parents’ needs in the modern family situation. Among his many other books are The Children of the Dream (1969), about communal childbearing in the kibbutz; A Home for the Heart (1974); and The Uses of Enchantment (1976), in which he discusses the psycho-social importance of fairy tales. Surviving and Other Essays (1979) contains diverse essays on problems in American society, on surviving under extreme duress, and on childhood schizophrenia. Freud and Man’s Soul was published in 1983, and Freud’s Vienna and Other Essays appeared in the year of his death.

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

Historical Term: Rastafarianism

Rastafarianism: Movement originating in the West Indies which takes its name from Ras (a term of respect in Africa) Tafari Makonnen (1892-1975) crowned Emperor of Ethiopia with the title Haile Selassie in 1930. Haile Selassie has a mystical role in the cult as has Ethiopia itself: as the one part of African that was never colonized, it is seen as the spiritual home of the black man. Life in the West Indies or in Britain is seen as time in Babylon by analogy with the sufferings of the Israelites as slaves in exile.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Term of Art: Experiential Learning

“experiential learning: Learning based on experiences, rather than lectures or reading. Experiential learning, also referred to as hands-on learning, can be especially helpful to students with a learning disability since it allows them to learn without being hindered by difficulties in reading or writing. An experiential approach to education and learning is based on the belief that students are more motivated and will remember concepts better when they have a direct physical experience.

Experiential learning also may have a strong basis in the nature of memory, especially for individuals with learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders. For many students, learning techniques that incorporate sight and touch are much easier for them to remember and retrieve. Evidence suggests that many individuals with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have a hard time remembering concepts, rules, and verbal information (semantic memory), while finding it much easier to remember events, people, places, and experience (episodic memory).

To some degree, experiential learning activities may provide a means of bridging those two basic forms of memory, and for enabling individuals to use strengths in one area to compensate in one area for weaknesses in another.”

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

A Bibliography on Electronic Screens, Child Development, and Learning from Parents Across America

If you’ve been teaching for ten years or more, you probably remember a time in your working life before smartphones became ubiquitous and turned your classroom into a battleground of wills over the presence of these devices in school. I have only one question for people who defend the presence of smartphones in classrooms: would you want your child–or any child–arriving in class every day with a smart television set and a cable modem and wireless router?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question (unless it’s not, which is very bad news indeed for this teacher). But the fact is this: we do allow this smart televisions and cable modems/wifi routers when we allow smartphones in our schools. As I like to tell students, I have nothing, and I do mean nothing, that can compete with the constant stimulation, approbation, distraction, and amusement that these devices offer. What I have is material that requires prolonged attention, engagement, consideration, analysis, and, finally, deep thought. What I offer will more often than not challenge students’ views of the world–which I think is kind of the point of education, after all.

I’ve been waiting for a moment when I would have the stamina to write a lengthy essay to accompany this extended bibliography on the hazards of screens for child development and learning. I can’t summon the outrage–probably because where outrage is concerned, my well runneth dry–to add more than these few words of expository gloss to accompany this excellent document.

But I do want to thank the good people at Parents Across America for this document–and for all the excellent work they do.