Tag Archives: philosophy/religion

Abstraction

“Abstraction (noun) The mental separating of common attributes or qualities from distinct, individual objects or beings, or of concepts from particular exemplars; word denoting an idea or intangible quality as opposed to something concrete. Adjective: abstract; Adverb: Abstractly.”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Richard Riley on Public Education’s Imperatives

“As a product of the public education system, I want all American students to have what I had—access to a quality education that enable them to pursue any career they wish, and take on any challenge they choose. Giving our students the best education in the world is a moral imperative and, especially, and economic necessity.”

Richard Riley (1933-)

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

Uighurs

Uighurs or Uygurs /we-gurs/: Turkic-speaking of Central Asia who live largely in northwest China. More than 7.7 million Uighurs live in China today, and some 300,000 in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. They are among the oldest Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia, first mentioned in Chinese records from the 3rd century AD. They established a kingdom in the 8th century, which was overrun in 840. A Uighur confederacy (745-1209), established around the Tian Mountains, was overthrown by the Mongols. This confederacy came to the aid of China’s Tang dynasty during the An Lushan Rebellion. The Uighurs of that time professed a Manichean faith.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

C.P. Snow

Snow, C(harles) P(ercy) later Baron Snow (of the City of Leicester) (1905-1980) British novelist, scientist, and government administrator. Snow was a molecular physicist at Cambridge University for some 20 years and served as an advisor to the British government. His 11-novel sequence Strangers and Brothers (1940-70), which analyzes bureaucratic man and the corrupting influence of power, includes The Masters (1951), The New Men (1954), and Corridors of Power (1964). The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959) and later nonfiction works deal with the cultural separation between practitioners of science and literature.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Thomas Jefferson

Happy Belated July 4th! In observance of the holiday, here is a reading on Thomas Jefferson along with its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. As most people understand, Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence of the British colonies in North America. A deeper dive into the origins of Jefferson’s rhetorical style in the Declaration shows that it is mostly a summary of issues John Locke raised in his Two Treatises of Government, particularly in the second.

Whenever I think of Jefferson, to be honest, a quote that has stuck with me from my high school reading of Kurt Vonnegut’s oeuvre. He is one of the great quotable authors of the twentieth century. This one comes from Breakfast of Champions (rather than, as I thought all these years, from  Wampeters, Foma, and Granfallooons, a book of Vonnegut’s essays and reviews that bears a rereading): “Thomas Jefferson High School…His high school was named after a slave owner who was also one of the world’s greatest theoreticians on the subject of human liberty.” Vonnegut never backed down from this observation, as this speech from 2000, seven years before his death, affirms.

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.

Boethius

Here is a reading on Boethius along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

Like a good deal of the biographical material on philosophers, and expositions of philosophical concepts, from the Intellectual Devotional series, I wrote this for one student. Boethius was born in 477, the year after the Fall of Rome. He is best known for his book The Consolation of Philosophy. Did you know that the popular game show Wheel of Fortune is named for one of Boethius’s conception of fate? I didn’t either.

In any case, this reading is a cogent one-page biography of Boethius which doesn’t dumb down his ideas. Like almost everything you’ll find on Mark’s Text Terminal, these are Word documents, so easily manipulated and adapted for a variety of needs.

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.

Walter Lippmann on the Creation of Perception

“The subtlest and most pervasive of all influences are those which create and maintain the repertory of stereotypes. We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them.”

Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion ch. 6 (1922)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Term of Art: Self-Concept

“self-concept: The way a person sees himself or herself including all the beliefs, feelings, and attitudes. Self-concept can also. affect how one feels about others.

Self-concept is a subject  that has fascinated philosophers from earliest times. In the field of psychology, self-concept has always been an important and sometimes controversial subject. William James and Mary Calkins used methods of introspection to study the self, while Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler all discussed the development of the self in their writing.

During the the 1950s and 1960s, the ‘self concept’ was a central idea in the work of both Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. Maslow believed that building self-esteem, an individual’s evaluation of self-worth, was a key step in the self-actualization process. Rogers believed that if one had a positive view of the self, then one would view the world in a positive way. If the self-view were negative, one would fall short of the goals related to the ideal self. As a part of this perspective, Donald Super developed a related theory of vocational choice. He believed that career satisfaction was related to the degree to which someone could implement his self-concept in the workplace.

Social psychologists argue that an individual’s self-concept develops through association with others. Cognitive psychologists study how people think about themselves and how they think about their own thinking. Although many criticize the term and its usefulness because it is difficult to quantify or measure consistently, it remains an important concept among educators and developmental psychologists. Both groups are concerned with the effects of the educational setting, peers, and family on child’s developing self-concept.

Individuals with learning disability, not surprisingly, often rate themselves lower than typically achieving students on cognitive ability. Because academic performance is a culturally valued domain, it makes sense that individuals with learning disabilities would also place importance on academic performance.

Some research suggests that for colleges students with learning disabilities, the availability of a social support network, including clubs, disability services, and interactions with professors, is a correlate of self-esteem. Other research of successful adults with learning disabilities gives insight into how to nurture emotional health while managing the challenge that a disability entails. Researchers studied moderately successful and highly successful adults with learning disabilities to identify factors related to their success. Success was defined as high ratings in the following categories: income level, job classification, education level, career prominence and job satisfaction.

Other research focuses on resilience–the healthy adaptation in the context of severe stress. Despite the challenges and hardships that can accompany having a learning disability, some individual maintain a positive outlook, achieve success, and avoid emotional problems. Important characteristics of resilient individuals include accuracy of self-appraisal, self-determination, and help from a significant important person.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Causation

Here is a reading on causation along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. How much demand will you see for these documents? Well, that depends on your students.

In 16 years of teaching in New York City, I used this set of documents two or three times at the most. I wrote them for one particular student with a surpassing interest in philosophy, but little interest in anything else school offered him. In any case, this is a short reading that touches on the philosophical conundrum of causality. This might be a way to introduce students to the topic, then take them on a short analytical excursion through one of the most commonly committed logical fallacies, post hoc ergo propter hoc–“after this, therefore because of this.”

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.

Arthur Bestor on Intellectual Freedom

“Freedom to think—which means nothing unless it means freedom to think differently—can be society’s most precious gift to itself. The first duty of a school is to defend and cherish it.”

Arthur Bestor, as Quoted in The Teacher and the Taught (1963)

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