Tag Archives: professional development

Guillermo O’Donnell

“Guillermo O’Donnell: (1936-2011) Argentine political scientist. He earned a law degree in Argentina and a PhD from Yale University. He taught at universities in South America, Europe, and the United States (principally Notre Dame), and has written many books on Latin American authoritarianism and democracy and the transition from one to the other. His pathbreaking analysis of ‘bureaucratic authoritarianism’ as a specific type of military rule found especially in Latin America from the 1960s to the 1980s contributed greatly to the understanding of comparative politics.”

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

Astor Piazzola

“Astor Piazzola: (1921-1992) Argentine composer. Born in Buenos Aires, he lived in the Bronx, New York, until he was 15, then returned to Argentina to play the bandoneon (a type of accordion) in a tango band led by Anibal Troilo (1917-1975). From 1944 he led his own groups. His interest in classical music led to study with Nadia Boulanger (1954-55) and the development of his own compositional style, infusing elements of jazz and modern music into tango. Not always initially popular with tango fans, his music is now recognized as having revived the genre and greatly expanded its artistic potential.”

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

Magic Realism

Magic Realism: (Sp, lo real maravilloso) A term introduced by Alejo Carpentier, in his prologue to El reino do este mundo (1949; tr The Kingdom of This World, 1957). The Cuban novelist was searching for a concept broad enough to accommodate both the events of everyday life and the fabulous nature of Latin American geography and history. Carpentier, who was greatly influenced by French surrealism, saw in magic realism the capacity to enrich our idea of what is ‘real” by incorporating all dimensions of the imagination, particularly as expressed in magic, myth, and religion.

In the hands of [Gabriel] Garcia Marquez and other writers of the Boom period, magic realism became a distinctly Latin American mode, an indigenous style for their explorations of history, culture, and politics. This narrative technique has influenced writers around the world.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

United Fruit Co.

“United Fruit Co.: U.S.-based fruit company. It was founded in 1899 in the merger of the Boston Fruit Company and other companies that sold bananas grown in Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean. Minor C. Keith, its principal founder, gained extensive land rights in Costa Rica in return for constructing railroads. United Fruit became the largest employer in Central America, developing vast tracts of jungle lands and building one of the largest private merchant navies in the world. Attacked in the Latin American press as el pulpo (‘the octopus’), the company was widely accused of exploiting workers and influencing governments during the era of ‘dollar diplomacy’ in the early to mid-20th century. It later policies were more enlightened, and it transferred portions of its landholdings to individual growers. In 1970 United Fruit merged with AMK Corporation to form United Brands Co., which changed its name in 1990 to Chiquita Brands International, Inc.”

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


“Taino: Arawak Indians of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. They also inhabited Puerto Rico and the eastern tip of Cuba. The grew cassava and corn, hunted birds and small animals, and fished. They were skillful at working stone and wood. Their society consisted of three tiers—nobles, commoners, and slaves—and they were ruled by hereditary chiefs and subchiefs. Their religious beliefs centered on a hierarchy of nature spirits and ancestors. They became extinct within 100 years of the Spanish conquest.”

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

Pablo Picasso on God as an Artist

“God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.”

Pablo Picasso, quoted in Francoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Life with Picasso (1964)

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

Term of Art: Teacher-Directed Classroom

“teacher-directed classroom: A classroom in which the teacher is in charge and makes all the important decisions about the content and pace of instruction; also known as the teacher-dominated classroom. The teacher-directed classroom is sometimes used as a derogatory term compared unfavorably with the learner-centered classroom, where students are in charge of their own learning. See also teacher-centered instruction. Contrast child-centered education; learner-centered classroom.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Dave Barry on Meetings

“Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organizations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate.”

Dave Barry

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Write It Right: Individual

“Individual. As a noun, this word means something that cannot be considered as divided, a unit. But it is incorrect to call a man, woman, or child an individual, except with reference to mankind, to society, or to a class of persons. It will not do to say ‘An individual stood in the street,’ when no mention of allusion has been made, nor is going to be made, to some aggregate of individuals considered as a whole.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.


“Catchword (noun): A word associated with a particular person or thing or crystallizing an issue; identifying slogan; in printing, a guideword at the top of the page; as in a dictionary, to indicate the first or last word on that page; a striking, catchy, attention-getting word heading an advertisement.

‘As he turned away, I saw the Daily Wire sticking out of his shabby pocket. He bade me farewell in quite a blaze of catchwords, and went stumping up the road.’ G.K. Chesterton, in The Man Who Was Chesterton.

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