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.

The Comtu Trio at the Rockingham Meeting House, August 18, 2019

Elsewhere on this blog I have written about my good friend Walter Wallace, who serves as a docent at the Rockingham Meeting House in Rockingham, Vermont. Walter has arranged a series of concerts in the Meeting House. This Sunday, August 18th, the Comtu trio will perform a program of early American music arranged for trio, as well as selections from the classical repertoire, e.g. Vivaldi and Telemann.

The meeting house per se is worth a visit, and its warm, resonant acoustics make this event well worth attending. On this occasion, Karen Engdahl, the pianist of the Comtu Trio (and proprietor of the Springfield Piano Studio), will perform on the Meeting House’s Estey Reed Organ, manufactured in nearby Brattleboro.

If you happen to be in the Connecticut River Valley–or anywhere else in Vermont, for that matter, since everyplace here is near everything else–take Exit 6 off I-91 and travel west by northwest on State Route 103 for two miles toward Chester. The Meeting House is on Meeting House Road, and is clearly marked on 103 in both directions.

Bill Moyers on News

“News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.”

Bill Moyers

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


Term of Art: Accomodations

“accommodations: Changes in the design or administration of tests in response to the special needs of students with disabilities or students who are learning English. The term generally refers to changes that do not substantially alter what the test measures. The goal is to give all students equal opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge. Typical accommodations include allowing a student to take more time on a test, to take a test with no time limits, to receive large-print test booklets, to have part or at least all of a test read aloud, to use a computer to answer test questions, to have access to a scribe to write down a student’s answers, to use Braille forms of the assessment, or to have access during the test to an English language dictionary.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.


Historical Terms: Action Francaise

action francaise: Right-wing political movement founded in France by the journalist and poet Charles Maurras (1868-1952), which was royalist, nationalistic, and anti-Semitic and which criticized the Third French Republic for decadence. Although a freethinker, Maurras approved of Roman Catholicism, believing that its traditions were a counterforce to democratic republicanism. In 1908 he and Leon Daudet (1867-1942), a pamphleteer and essayist, began joint editorship of the movement’s newspaper, Action Francaise. The Vatican became estranged from the movement after 1926 and it drew increasingly close to fascism. Between 1940 and 1944, it gave strong support to the Vichy government and was accordingly suppressed after France was liberated; Maurras was sentenced to life imprisonment for collaboration with the Germans.”

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

Daniel Willingham on the Visual System and Reading

[Professor Willingham cited the research of Mark Changizi for this explanation.]

“A reasonable hypothesis is that the visual system has been tuned over time (either evolutionary time, or the lifetime of an individual, or both) to best perceive shapes that appear most frequently in the environment. People who invented alphabets unconsciously capitalized on that property of the visual system. The shapes that people see most easily were judged to make nice letters. It’s a good example of what we mean when we say that the brain is not designed for reading and writing—rather, we co-opt existing mental mechanisms to make literacy work.”

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

Book of Answers: Selma Lagerlof

Who was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature? Selma Lagerlof of Sweden was awarded the prize in 1909. She is known for such works as Jerusalem (1901-1902), a collection of stories about Swedish peasant life.

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

E.H. Gombrich on the Neanderthals

“The Neanderthals lived in a period that comes before history. That is why we call it ‘prehistory,’ because we only have a rough idea of when it all happened. But we still know something about the people whom we call prehistoric. At the time when real history begins, which we will come to in future readings, people already had all the things we have today: clothes, houses, and tools, plows to plow with, grains to make bread with cows for milking, sheep for shearing, dogs for hunting and for company, bows and arrows for shooting and helmets and shields for protection.”

Excerpted from: Gombrich, E.H. Trans. Caroline Mustill. A Little History of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.