Tag Archives: readings

The Weekly Text, February 8, 2019

OK, for the second Friday of Black History Month 2019, here is a high-interest reading on seminal Hip-Hop group Public Enemy and the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that accompanies it.

Years ago, I set out to write a reading and writing unit on the History of Hip-Hop, starting from a pithy remark Chuck D made to characterize Hip-Hop, to wit that the musical genre in its manifestations was “CNN for Black people.” Even though the seriously alienated students in whose service I contrived this material took great interest in it, the principal of the school forbade me from teaching it. I have yet to revisit that material and take it further, as I have no reason to think any of the principals I’ve worked for since would have allowed me to present this high-interest, differentiated 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.

Miles Davis and Fusion Jazz

When I was in high school, one of the ways one exercised one’s will to power was to possess more, and deeper, cultural knowledge. This was particularly true of music. The more obscure and unlistenable prog-rock band and recordings one could find, the more social capital one possessed. I won’t bore you with the details of this; if I mentioned the names of some of these rock groups, you almost certainly wouldn’t know them. That’s how arcane this knowledge was and is, and how ephemeral and transient the music turned out to be.

That was never true, however, of one of the masterpiece albums a friend of mine played for me when I was about 16. Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew is simply a seminal album: it broke new ground, and still sounds fresh and innovative today. It also gave rise to a new genre of music–jazz fusion, or fusion jazz–depending on which word one wants modifying the other.

Here is a reading on Miles Davis’ invention of and contributions to fusion jazz with a vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet to accompany it. I’ve found students with even a modest interest in music find this material interesting.

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.

Independent Practice: Mansa Musa

Now that I’m working in a school district where deep instruction in world history is a pedagogical afterthought–if that–I appreciate more than ever New York State’s high standards for social studies instruction. Over the years, I taught or co-taught freshman global studies, for which classes I developed this independent practice worksheet on Mansa Musa. He’s an important figure in world history, and the students I serve in my current posting have no idea who he is.

Which would be a scandal if anyone here actually cared,

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.

Charles Richard Drew

“Drew, Charles Richard: (1904-1950) U.S. physician and surgeon. Born in Washington, D.C., he received his PhD from Columbia University. While researching the properties and preservation of blood plasma, he developed efficient ways to process and store plasma in blood banks. He directed the U.S. and Britain’s World War II blood-plasma programs until 1942. An African-American, he resigned over the segregation of the blood of blacks and whites in blood banks. He died in an auto accident.”

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

Cultural Literacy: NAACP

If you can use it for Black History Month 2019, or any other month for that matter, since the organization is an important part of United States history, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the NAACP.

If you find typos in this document, 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.

Paul Laurence Dunbar on the Mask

“We wear the masks that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile…

But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!”

Paul Laurence Dunbar

“We Wear the Mask” 1. I, 14 (1895)

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

for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is not enough

A play (1974) by the US writer Ntozake Shange (b. 1948) consisting of 20 ‘choreopoems’ about the experience of African-American women in modern Western society. One of the longest running shows in Broadway history, the play’s extraordinary title, with its unconventional spellings and rejection of accepted grammatical rules, was intended by the author to represent the independence of African-American culture from Western influence. The mutilation of words throughout the title and text are reportedly meant to remind the reader of the mutilation of African slaves through branding and other punishments.”

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