Tag Archives: readings

Lou Gehrig

Two days ago in these pages, I noted the birth anniversary of the great Yankees player Lou Gehrig. He was born, to reiterate, on June 19, 1903. You may know that he was felled by the same disease that recently claimed Stephen Hawking, to wit Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which, not coincidentally, is known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Mr. Gehrig famously delivered what is known as “baseball’s Gettysburg Address” on July 4, 1939, making a dignified exit from the game, and cementing his legend with that simple, eloquent address.

Here is a reading on Lou Gehrig along with a comprehension worksheet to accompany it.

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.

Jan Resseger: Why Did DeVos Overrule Her Staff to Reinstate a Shoddy Accreditor?

[Lately, I have been concerned–obsessed might be a better word, frankly–with the abysmally low standards of professionalism in the New York City school in which I serve; now comes this. Yeesh.]

Diane Ravitch's blog

Jan Resseger writes here about Betsy DeVos’s decision to overrule a strong recommendation from Department career staff and resinstate an accrediting agency with a terrible record.

Before the Obama Department of Education put the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) out of business in 2016, ACICS had been instrumental in accrediting a number of unscrupulous, for-profit colleges whose fiscal survival depended on attracting students bringing dollars from federal loans. After ACICS was put out of business by the Obama Department of Education, ACICS filed a lawsuit claiming its record had not been fully examined. In March of this year, a federal judge ruled in favor of the accreditation agency—saying that the Department of Education still needs to consider 36,000 pages of information ACICS submitted that was never considered. On April 3, 2018, after the judge’s ruling, Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos conditionally reapproved ACICS pending further study.

Last Friday…

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The Canterbury Tales

“A poem of some 17,000 lines by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400). It was probably begun around 1387 and worked on into the 1390s, but apparently not completed. It was one of the first pieces of literature to be printed in England, in 1477 by William Caxton. The tales do not come from Canterbury but are, within the fictional framework of the work, told by various pilgrims en route to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury—one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the Middle Ages. There is some uncertainty as to what order Chaucer intended the stories to be in, but the following is how they appear in the authoritative Riverside edition, following the Ellesmere manuscript:

• General Prologue
• The Knight’s Tale
• The Miller’s Tale
• The Reeve’s Tale (a reeve was a manorial steward)
• The Cook’s Tale
• The Man of Law’s Tale
• The Wife of Bath’s Tale
• The Friar’s Tale
• The Summoner’s Tale (a summoner summoned delinquents to appear before an ecclesiastical courts
• The Clerk’s Tale (a clerk was an ecclesiastical student)
• The Merchant’s Tale
• The Squire’s Tale
• The Franklin’s Tale (a franklin was a landowner of free but not noble birth, probably ranking below the gentry.
• The Physician’s Tale
• The Pardoner’s Tale (pardoner’s sold papal indulgences, a much abused practice)
• The Shipman’s Tale (a shipman was a ship’s master)
• The Prioress’s Tale
• Chaucer’s Tale of Sir Thopas
• Chaucer’s Tale of Melibeus
• The Monk’s Tale
• The Nun’s Priest’s Tale
• The Second Nun’s Tale
• The Canon Yeoman’s Tale
• The Manciple’s Tale (a manciple was a servant who bought provision for a college or in of court)
• The Parson’s Tale
• Chaucer’s Retracion

It seems that Chaucer’s original idea was to have many more stories since in the General Prologue the host proposes that each of the 30 or so pilgrims tells four tales each.
A film version (1971) by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), focusing on the bawdier tales, was not well received.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.


“The system of customs and conventions connected with knighthood in the Middle Ages. Derived from the French word chevalier, meaning “horseman” or “knight,” chivalry was originally associated with the business of recruiting knights for the purposes of making war. It came to include the curriculum of training the young knight to fight, to hunt, to serve his lord, to govern his own vassals, and ultimately it evolved into that courtly ideal in which the true knight was not only courageous and skillful in war but also generous, pious, and courteous. When the championing of the weak began to be emphasized as part of the ideal, chivalry became as important in peace as in war, and among other things, the tournament flourished. Another component of the chivalric code was courtly love, an element that further refined the knight by requiring that he be a poet and a musician and that he be dedicated to some lady of his choice.”

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

The Canterbury Tales

If you are a high school English teacher, you might find this short reading on The Canterbury Tales useful. Likewise this reading comprehension worksheet that accompanies it.

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.

David Labaree on the Five-Paragraph Essay

Several years ago, one of the assistant principals in this school loaned me a couple of books by the great professor of education, David Labaree. I read both The Trouble with Ed Schools (that link takes you to a review of the book by the esteemed sociologist Nathan Glazer) and How to Succeed in School Without Really Learning; I thought both were excellent.

As I go through old folders in the Text Terminal archives, I found a note reminding me to post this article on the five-paragraph essay by Professor Labaree. It meets his usual standard of excellence in his publications, and has much to say, I think, about the obsession with the five-paragraph essay.

Smart Phones, Self-Regulation, and Attention

[In the school in which I serve, the administration, acting on the instructions of bureaucrats further up the policy chain, has basically, by default, allowed students unfettered and unregulated access to their smart phones. It goes without saying, I assume, that this approach has made teaching and learning all but impossible in this institution. Moreover, it has created serious discipline problems that have led to bitter power struggles between faculty and students, screaming matches in hallways and classrooms, an overburdened deans’ office, and a generally ridiculous and often completely unproductive learning environment. Not that my work is necessarily about me, but I think it’s at least worth mentioning that this situation has rendered a travesty my efforts at helping students become stronger, more proficient readers and writers, and therefore more capable students overall.]

“As Mark Twain said, ‘The two most important days in life are the day you are born and the day you discover the reason why.’

Purpose, however, hinges on self-regulation, the ability to resist impulses in the service of long-term goals. Unfortunately, an entire generation is coming of age absorbed in Facebook and other media that undermine self-regulation, says Larry Rosen, a professor emeritus at California State University and a coauthor of The Distracted Brain. Fully grown adults are no less immune to the dings and pings of feedback that make smartphones so compelling. ‘You may want big ideas, but if your attention is jerked away constantly, they won’t come. There’s no time to process anything on a deeper level,’ Rosen says. Not, he adds, is there time for creative daydreaming, because the brain is often overstimulated.

Rosen has found that young adult students can maintain focus on important work only for two to four minutes on average before checking emails, texts, and social media (older adults are not much better)–and it can take up to 20 minutes to get back on task. The more hours students spend media-multitasking, the lower their grade point average. Even a single check-in on Facebook during focus sessions predicted a lower grade.” 

Pincott, Jena. “10 Life Skills.” Psychology Today, May/June 2018.