Tag Archives: Intellectual Devotional

The Weekly Text, February 15, 2018

Tomorrow is the Lunar New Year, which is a holiday for a large group of people here in New York City. We have the day off, so I’m posting this week’s Text a day early so I can get it up on Twitter and the AFT’s Share My Lesson site.

If the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision isn’t something that all Americans should revere, then I don’t know what is. I’ll be the first to stipulate that it was belated. But the fact that a a working man named Oliver Brown could bring an action against the discriminatory district in which his children attended school, take it all the way to the highest court in the land, and effectively force this nation to live up to the high ideals asserted in its founding documents should inspire anyone who hears it.

So, here is an Intellectual Devotional reading on Brown v. Board of Education with a reading comprehension worksheet to use with it. This Everyday Edit on Desegregation at Central High (and you can get lots more of these from the generous proprietors of the Education World website) nicely complements this reading.

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.

The Weekly Text, February 9, 2018

Have you seen director Raoul Peck’s documentary about James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro yet? If not, I cannot recommend this film highly enough. I have always been a film buff, so I have greatly appreciated the arrival, in the last ten or fifteen years, of a bumper crop of engaged, talented documentarians. Indeed, most evenings I watch a documentary of some sort, so I like to think I know something about the form. If “I Am Not Your Negro” doesn’t represent formal perfection, then I don’t know what does.

Also, obviously, it showcases one of the most important public intellectuals and writers of my lifetime. I’ll simply say that The Fire Next Time was one of those books that radically altered the way I perceive the world, and I am grateful to it for that.

This week’s Text is a reading on James Baldwin with a comprehension sheet to accompany it. You might also find useful (and you can get lots more of these from the generous people at Education World) this Everyday Edit on the U.S.-Africa Capital Connection.

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.

The Weekly Text, February 2, 2018

As I’ve said before, perhaps ad nauseum on this blog, every month is Black History Month in my classroom. I’ve always had mixed feelings about a single month set aside for Black History, mainly because it has always struck me as a form of segregation; I say we integrate Black History into every lesson we teach, particular when we teach the history of the United States. That said, I am decidedly circumspect in second guessing a scholar of Carter G. Woodson’s stature; Dr. Woodson launched “Negro History Month” in February of 1926. This is the month in which we now justly and appropriately celebrate the many and diverse achievements of Americans of African descent.

The first Weekly Text for Black History Month is a relatively high interest reading on Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls with an accompanying reading comprehension worksheet. Rappers come and go, and I’m old enough to remember a time when rap wasn’t part of the cultural landscape of this country. Tupac and Biggie, I think, are icons of the genre, and martyrs to it as well, I suppose. While my students look at me blankly when I ask them if they’ve heard of Kool Moe Dee, (I really liked How Ya Like Me Now and was pleased to hear it shuffle up at the gym recently) they’ve all heard of Biggie and Tupac. You might find useful this Everyday Edit on African-American History Month (courtesy, as always, of the good people at Education World, a world-class hub for instructional material).

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.

Addendum, February 6, 2018: While waiting for the train in the Bowling Green station late yesterday afternoon, I noticed a poster advertising the USA Network’s upcoming series on the investigations into the murders of Tupac and Biggie. This Text, as it turns out, is timely.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2018

I’m old enough to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in life and in death. Indeed, I remember vividly that April day in 1968–I was in third grade–when a career criminal named James Earl Ray assassinated Dr. King while he was in Memphis assisting sanitation workers in their quest to be treated with basic human dignity by that municipal government. As confused and conflicted as my parents’ political principles were, they respected Dr. King, and admired the work he was doing. My father, as I recall (remember: I was eight years old, so some of this stuff was a little over my head), was particularly demoralized by Dr. King’s murder, and saw it as a sign, along with the horrors of the Vietnam War, of encroaching barbarism.

Today, we observe the anniversary of Dr. King’s work. Here is  a reading on the practice of nonviolent resistance, which was the cornerstone of Dr. King’s strategy in his fight for civil rights for Americans of African descent. You might want to use this comprehension worksheet to accompany it. Finally, here is a piece of work I consider timely–especially considering this report on inequality in schools in the United States that came over the transom yesterday–to wit, this Cultural literacy worksheet on de facto segregation.

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.

The Weekly Text, January 12, 2018

Springfield, Massachusetts, is the home of The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. I lived in Northern New England on and off for years, and I went to college in Amherst, Massachusetts, so I passed through Springfield many times in my travels. Each time, I noticed the Basketball Hall of Fame and wondered how it ended up in Springfield–of all places–and not in one of the bigger cities on the East Coast.

As it happens, the game was invented in Springfield by a man named James Naismith. Most of the young men I teach are interested in basketball, so your students may be as well. In any case, this week’s Text is a reading on James Naismith along with this comprehension worksheet to complement it. You might also find useful this Everday Edit worksheet on Basketball’s Beginnings (courtesy of the good people at Education World). Finally, and to risk making this whole post ephemeral by its tangents, here is a Culture Literacy exercise on the noun expletive, because it is used in the third Additional Fact in the reading.

Incidentally (and as the reading will explain to you and your students), the game of basketball in its original form prescribed 13 rules. A couple of years ago, I noticed that Sotheby’s had auctioned off James Naismith’s holograph manuscript of those original 13 rules for $4.3 million.

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.

The Weekly Text, December 15, 2017

For some reason, I thought I’d posted this reading on Hammurabi’s Code of Laws and the comprehension worksheet which complements it. This material, I would think, is a cornerstone of an introductory global studies class.

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.

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.