American novelist and poet. Reed’s writing reflects his belief that the black American writer should function as a kind of conjurer of what Reed calls ‘neo-hoodoo,’ an attempt to pry the distinct qualities of Afro-American culture loose from Euro-American culture. In a language composed of black dialects, standard English, and hip jargon, he writes angry satires on an American society corrupted by racism and uncontrolled technology. Among his novels are The Free-Lance Pallbearers (1967), Mumbo Jumbo (1972), Flight to Canada (1976), The Terrible Twos (1982), and Japanese by Spring (1993). His verse collections include Conjure (1972) and Secretary to the Spirits (1975). Other works include Shrovetide in Old New Orleans (1978), occasional writings; Hell Hath No Fury (1980), a play; The Terrible Threes (1990), a collection of short stories; and Airing Dirty Laundry (1993), containing memoirs.
Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.
[Addendum: Ishmael Reed entered my cultural cosmology when I heard the the percussionist and producer Kip Hanrahan’s projects to set Mr. Reed’s poetry to music, the first of which, Conjure (named for one of Mr. Reed’s books of verse) appeared in 1983. I continue to listen to that record regularly, now 35 years later. Two more records from Conjure have appeared, Cab Calloway Stands in for the Moon (1988) and a two-disc set, Bad Mouth, released in 2006.]
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.
“Process of developing abstract rules of mental concepts based on sensory experience. Concept formation figures prominently in cognitive development and was a subject of great importance to Jean Piaget, who argued that learning entails an understanding of a phenomenon’s characteristics and how they are logically linked. Noam Chomsky has argued that certain cognitive structures (such as basic grammatical rules) are innate in human beings. Both men held that, as a concept emerges, it becomes subject to testing: a child’s concept of “bird,” for example, will be tested against specific instances of birds. The human capacity for play contributes importantly to this process by allowing for consideration of a wide range of possibilities.”
Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.
(As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I have long considered the American Federation of Teachers quarterly magazine, American Educator to be a credible and edifying periodical that includes useful research for teachers. Recently, it ran this excellent article on the problem of fake news in the United States. My school’s mindless ban on Wikipedia, I think, represents little more than an unwillingness to recognize the opportunities Wikipedia offers for students to learn how to evaluate evidence judiciously. In this short quote, the authors of the aforementioned article make the case for using Wikipedia for just that purpose.)
“You heard right: Wikipedia. Fact checkers’ first stop was often a site many educators tell students to avoid. What we should be doing instead is teaching students what fact checkers know about Wikipedia and helping them take advantage of the resources of the fifth-most trafficked site on the web.
Students should learn about Wikipedia’s standards of verifiability and how to harvest entries for links to reliable sources. They should investigate Wikipedia’s ‘Talk’ pages (the tab hiding in plain sight next to the ‘Article’ tab), which, on contentious issues like gun control, the status of Kashmir, waterboarding, or climate change are gold mines where students can see knowledge-making in action. And they should practice using Wikipedia as a resource for lateral reading. Fact checkers, short on time, often skipped the main article and headed straight to the references, clicking on a link to a more established venue. Why spend 15 minutes having students, armed with a checklist, evaluate a website on a tree octopus (www.zapatopi.net/treeoctopus) when a few seconds on Wikipedia shows it to be ‘an internet hoax created in 1998.’”
McGrew, Sarah, et al. “The Challenge That’s Bigger Than Fake News: Civic Reasoning in a Social Media Environment.” American Educator Fall 2017 (4-10). Print.