Tag Archives: Cultural Literacy

Cultural Literacy: Liberalism

Because it presents an extremely narrow, time-bound (it restricts the refers to liberalism only in its manifestation in the twentieth century) definition of the ideology, I almost trashed this Cultural Literacy worksheet on liberalism.

Talk radio hosts and social media have reduced liberalism, a complicated political and moral philosophy to a caricature of itself. This worksheet, while narrowly useful, doesn’t generally help.

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.

The Weekly Text, October 16, 2020: A Lesson Plan on the Crime and Puzzlement Case “Blot It Out”

It’s Friday again. I don’t know about you, but I am experiencing time in some very strange ways during this pandemic. Anyway, Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 has come and gone.

So, this week’s text is a lesson plan on the Crime and Puzzlement case “Blot It Out.” I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the phrase Art for Art’s Sake (incidentally, when you watch movies, new or old, produced at the Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) studio, you’ll see the Latin phrase “Ars Gratia Artis” above the roaring lion’s head as the film begins to roll, well, you can now explain that phrase to students and children). You’ll need this scan of the illustration and questions in order to conduct your investigation. Finally, here is the typescript of the answer key so that you can make allegations and bring your suspect to the bar of justice.

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: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Because a our legislative branch is interviewing a candidate for a job on the United States Supreme Court, now seems like a good time to publish this Cultural Literacy worksheet on cruel and unusual punishment, more specifically the fact that the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids it.

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: Ex Post Facto

Alright, moving right along on this rainy day, during which the very consequential confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States are underway, it seems like a perfect time to post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Latinism ex post facto.

The worksheet introduces the term–it means, just as it sounds, “after the fact”–but then quickly moves on to its conceptual meaning in law. An ex post facto law, as the worksheet explains to its readers, “makes illegal an act that was legal when it was committed, or changes the rules of evidence to make conviction easier.” The United States Constitution forbids the making of ex post facto laws.

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: Class Structure

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on class structure to complement another post, seven below this, on class consciousness. My guess? This stuff wouldn’t fly in most schools and school districts. We Americans actually believe all the nonsense we tell ourselves about opportunity and the American meritocracy; we fancy ourselves above or immune to class distinctions.

I have bad news: we’re not. I think poor kids have a right to know that, and I think teachers have a moral and intellectual obligation to help students understand the way the edifice of class circumscribes students’ lives.

Just sayin,.

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: Class Consciousness

It’s not something we talk about in school, because it offends people’s perception of our exceptional, egalitarian society in the United States. Of course that is nonsense: social class divisions, with unequal access to basic resources and economic privileges, has long been a part of American social life.

This Cultural Literacy worksheet on class consciousness is actually a good introduction to the idea of social class as well as, obviously, consciousness of one’s own social class.

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: The Birth of a Nation

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on The Birth of a Nation, the infamous 1915 film by D.W. Griffith. I think now is a good time for students to learn about this piece of racist propaganda.

There, I got that out on the page. I’ve been walking around this document, metaphorically speaking, for months. In fact, I have a good deal of material about this film–and know more about it than I care to admit. Suffice to say this: this film innovated production techniques and really represents the birth of the long-form, narrative cinema we take for granted today. Even the Marxist auteur Sergei Eisenstein admired D.W. Griffith’s advances in technique while deploring the racism of The Birth of a Nation.

Generally, this film in its “artistic” and commercial dimensions offers a lot of grist for the critical mill. I am still working up to posting more material about this hot-button issue. For now, this short exercise will have to suffice.

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: Sinclair Lewis

Is Sinclair Lewis taught at the high school level? I don’t remember encountering him, with Babbitt, until I was well into my twenties. He was the first writer from the United States to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. I don’t remember seeing his books around the high school in which I served for ten years.

If you just want to introduce him to your students, or settle them after a class change, or both, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Sinclair Lewis that shouldn’t take anybody long.

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: Lost Generation

Because there has been a surge of interest in the United States in, well, leaving the United States, now seems like a perfect time to post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Lost Generation, that group of American writers and artists who spend the 1920s in Paris. Among this group, as you may know, was Ernest Hemingway.

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: First Amendment

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. If now isn’t a good time to spend some time reading, thinking, and writing about the rights guaranteed by this Amendment, I don’t know when would be.

If I were teaching this important topic in civics this fall, I would be sure to emphasize the Establishment Clause as well as the guarantee of the right “of the people peaceably to assemble.” As Kevin Phillips’ nightmare scenario of an American Theocracy begins to advance to lived reality, the Establishment Clause becomes a very important topic of study. As far as peaceably assembling, that right appears to have been abrogated.

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.