The Weekly Text, December 1, 2017

For English language learners, and Early Catastrophe Kids, I suppose, one of the trickiest things about the English language is its large roster of polysemous words. This is something I’ve become interested in, and have begun to develop some worksheets whose aim is to help students understand both the theory and practice of polysemous words.

So, for this week’s Text, I offer three context clues worksheets on the word frontier used as a noun. The word can also be used as an adjective (frontier settlement); it’s probably easier for students to understand frontier as a noun in its meaning as a region that forms the margin of settled or developed territory (Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Kindle Locations 163921-163922). Merriam-Webster, Inc.. Kindle Edition) when teaching it as an adjective in the sense limned above. However, this word has three meanings that are closely, but not exactly, connected. Frontier may be as good a place as any to begin helping students develop their own understanding of polysemy.

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: The American Way of Death

(For reasons I can’t entirely explain, I have always found The Mitford Family interesting, particularly Jessica and Nancy. Jessica’s famous [or infamous, if you subscribe to the ideas of the eminent American politician quoted below] book, which I’ve yet to read, The American Way of Deathis an expose of the funeral industry in the United States. It is of a type with Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One, an excoriating satire of the funeral industry in Los Angeles. Incidentally, The Loved One was also produced as a film in 1965 and is simply a masterpiece, e.g. the casting of Liberace as a coffin salesman was particularly inspired).

“While hiding behind the commercial aspects of the mortician and the cemeteries and mausoleums where our dear departed friends and relatives are commemorated, she is really striking another blow at the Christian religion. Her tirade against morticians is simply the vehicle to carry her anti-Christ attack… I would rather place my mortal remains, alive or dead, in the hands of any American mortician than to set foot on the soil of any Communist nation.”

Congressman James B. Utt, Congressional Record

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

Word Root Exercise: Dendr/o, Dendri

Here is a short exercise on the Greek word roots dendr/o and dendri. They mean tree.

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.

Henry Miller on Politicians

“One has to be lowbrow, a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of an idea, whether a good one or a bad one.”

Henry Miller

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Portable Curmudgeon. New York: Plume, 1992.

Cultural Literacy: Ancien Regime

In the Sophomore Global Studies that I co-teach, we’ve spent a great deal of time this fall on the French Revolution and its consequences. Therefore, although I may be a day late and a dollar short with it, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Ancien Regime.

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.

Dialectical Thinking

“To every answer you can find a new question.”

Yiddish Proverb

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

The Weekly Text, November 22, 2017

The minute I viewed, as a middle school student, Alain Resnais’s short but magisterial film on the Holocaust, Night and Fog (there is a lesson plan for this film elsewhere on this blog–a simple search from the home page will take you to it) I became interested, perhaps obsessed, with authoritarian political movements. As an undergraduate, I studied their manifestations in Russia; I ended up writing my honors thesis on the brewing miasma of authoritarian politicians in Russia.

Along the way, I became aware of the difficulty of any one definition of fascism. For my money, the late Professor George Mosse of the University of Wisconsin remains the best expositor and chronicler of fascism, if only because he insisted on talking about this abstract noun in the plural. There isn’t any one fascism, Mosse averred, but several. So I am circumspect about any reading claiming to be the last word on this political movement.

That said, I think this reading on fascism from the Intellectual Devotional’s Modern Culture volume is a perfect introduction to the basic elements of fascism, as well as a nice chronicle of its exponents. Here is a reading comprehension worksheet to accompany it.

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m posting this on the Wednesday before so that I may enjoy four computer-free days over the break.

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.