Category Archives: Social Sciences

Lessons, documents, and quotes from branches of the social sciences including history, economics, sociology, and psychology.

Salman Rushdie

In memory of Samuel Paty, and in honor of teachers everywhere struggling to promote and conduct free and open inquiry, and as a cautionary tale about religious orthodoxy and extremism across the globe, I offer without further comment this reading on Salman Rushdie and its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Passive Resistance

This Cultural Literacy worksheet on passive resistance as a means of protest ought to have great currency at the moment, especially when elected officials imply they will not participate in a peaceful transfer of governmental authority. The reading in this short exercise mentions Gandhi, but I don’t think teachers should let the opportunity pass to invoke the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., another practitioner of passive resistance who acknowledged his debt to Gandhi.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Nihilism

If you can use it (I didn’t fully understand the concept until I was well into my undergraduate education), here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on nihilism as a concept in philosophy, which is this word’s function at bottom–to dress up an abstract concept like a belief in nothing. You might want to help your students make the connection with the Latin word root nihil, which means, simply, nothing.

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: The First Book Printed in English

“What was the first book printed in English? The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, a prose romance by Raoul Lefevre, printed by William Caxton in 1474 in Bruges, Belgium. Caxton himself translated it from the French. Caxton also printed the first dated book printed in English, Dictes and Sayenges of the Phylosophers, published on November 18, 1477.”

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

Expressionism

Readers and users of this blog are already aware that I have published here a great deal of reference material related to the visual and plastic arts. I’m well aware that I’m not the only person to decry the decline of arts education in our public schools. I’m not an artist myself–I cannot draw a straight line without the aid of solid straight edge to guide my writing instrument–but I love art and believe kids should learn about it–if not learn to create art themselves.

In that spirit, here is a reading on expressionism and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

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.

5 Components of the Soul in Ancient Egypt

“Ren * Ka * Ib * Ba * Sheut

The simplest concept is Ren, which is literally your name: it lives for as long as you are remembered, or can be read about on inscriptions, or included in prayers for the ancestors and their achievements. Ka is also easy enough to translate into modern idiom, for it is that vital essence that makes the difference between the living and the dead, between life and dead meat, between a warm body and cold clay.

Ib is literally the heart, formed from a single drop of clotted blood extracted from your mother’s heart at the hour of your conception or birth. By heart, the Egyptians meant not just the organ for pumping blood around your body, but the seat of your soul, the good directing force in your life, searching after truth, peace, and harmony.

Ba is that which makes each of us unique and different, that which makes us strive and achieve, the motivator but also the hungry elemental force that needs food and sex. In some form, your ba is destined to survive after death, often depicted or imagined as a human-headed bird, which with good fortune will go forth by day to enjoy the light, but might also end up existing only in the dark, like the bat or the ruin-haunting owl. Sheut is your shadow, and by extension the other you, as well as being used to describe a statue, a model, or a painting of a human.”

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.

Cultural Literacy: Meritocracy

It’s a concept that has received some long overdue scrutiny of late (you need only search “recent attacks on meritocracy” to find 933,000 results, at least on Google), so now is the perfect moment to post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on meritocracy. I think anyone who has spent any amount of time in a workplace knows that merit is basically inert when one seeks to advance one’s own career. It’s the sycophants and politicians that advance in our society, not those who seek to prove their worth through the merits of their efforts. Indeed, a whole genre of comedy arose around this, starting, at least on my radar screen, with the American version of the situation comedy The Office.

Parenthetically, this document’s reading is more text than one usually finds in the short Cultural Literacy exercises on this website. Moreover, the reading mentions the Scholastic Aptitude Test, about which I will soon be posting a lesson plan. As you will see when you download and unpack it, this worksheet on meritocracy allows plenty of room to expand it–which, because it is a Microsoft Word, you can do easily.

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.

Scarface

Scarface: A gangster film (1932) directed by Howard Hawks, with a screenplay by Ben Hecht and others. The 1983 remake was directed by Brian de Palma and had a screenplay by Oliver Stone. The name of the eponymous anti-hero is Tony Camonte (played by Paul Muni) in the 1932 version; in the 1983 version he is called Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino). The character is based on the real-life gangster Al Capone (1899-1947), who acquired the name Scarface from the scar on his left cheek caused by a razor slash in a Brooklyn gang fight in his younger days.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

English Usage: Renumeration and Remuneration

Here’s an English usage worksheet on differentiating the use of renumeration and remuneration. In reality, since neither renumeration nor the verb from which it would spring, renumerate, are words that have disappeared under the much crisper recount (although renumerate can also mean to renumber–also crisper than renumerate) this is a worksheet on the meaning and use of the noun remuneration.

To remunerate simply means “to pay an equivalent for.” When you receive your paycheck, your employer remunerated for your labor.

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.

Style

“Style: The characteristic manner and appearance of the works of an individual artist, school, or period. Stylistic elements comprise qualities resulting from both form and content. Artistic styles emerge from individual and collective interpretations in social, political, and economic contexts.”

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