Tag Archives: women’s history

Jane Addams on Democracy

“The cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy.”

Jane Addams

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

Cultural Literacy: Catherine the Great

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Catherine the Great. To my surprise, this is the first material on the Empress I have published on this blog.

She is without question a world-historical figure, and probably of interest to a certain type of student, probably female. In any case, I’ll make a point of producing a couple of more posts about it.

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.

Mellifluous (adj)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective mellifluous. It means “having a smooth rich flow <a mellifluous voice> and “filled with something (as honey) that sweetens.”

It’s not a word used with any real frequency in English. But when you need it–as when it’s time to express one’s feelings about, say, Nina Simone’s voice–well, nothing else will quite do, you know?

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.

The Algonquin Wits: Dorothy Parker

“Describing a guest at one of her parties: ‘That woman speaks eighteen languages and can’t say “No” in any of them.’”

Dorothy Parker

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

Cultural Literacy: Indira Gandhi

For the first day of the observation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2021 at Mark’s Text Terminal, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Indira Gandhi. This blog will feature materials related to Asian culture, geography, politics, and personalities for the entire month of May.

By any measure, Americans of Asian Pacific descent have experienced a difficult year. At the beginning of 2020, on January 23 to be exact, the Museum of Chinese in America suffered a fire in its building at 70 Mulberry Street in Chinatown in Lower Manhattan. Fortunately, the original estimates of the devastation proved to be overestimated, and the Museum is on the mend. I attended a professional development day at the Museum several years ago. It was one of the best of such things, a twice-yearly obligation of employees of the New York City Department of Education, that I had the good fortune to encounter. Godspeed to the good people at MOCA in restoring the museum to its original state.

Unless you live in a cave, you are no doubt aware of the rising anti-Asian bigotry in the United States. This has prompted a long overdue public discourse on racism towards Asian-Americans. I particularly appreciate the inimitable Ronny Chieng’s takedown, from way back in 2016 but which has lately been trending on YouTube, of Fox News bro Jesse Watters, who visited Chinatown in that year to “report” for the execrable Bill O’Reilly show. The work of Asian feminists who are speaking frankly about the cultural and political history of fetishizing Asian women, another long overdue discussion, arrives at a propitious moment; maybe these thinkers will forge change in this area of our public life. I’d like to think that making an understanding of the term “Orientalist tropesde rigueur for high school students before they graduate from our secondary institutions might take us some distance toward recognizing this problem in our society.

I lay the blame for much of the rising anti-Asian violence on the last president of the United States, a man who wore his bigotry on his sleeve throughout the benighted four years he malingered in the White House. Calling a virus–and the last time I talked with my friends in the academic and professional genomics community about this, they assured me that viruses, unlike humans, have no ethnicity–the “Kung Flu” is an obvious slur, intended, it appears, to bait the kind of bigots who immediately began parroting it. Likewise, COVID, caused by a coronavirus, is not a “Chinese Virus,” though that particular lie and slur has contributed to violence against Americans of Asian descent. The president bought himself a mendacious Barbie doll who stepped up to defend him and his trashy mouth. Even NBC News, not exactly an institution of the woke left, spoke up on the president’s appalling rhetoric.

Man, I am glad he is gone. I’ll stipulate that anti-Asian racism has a long and sordid history in the United States, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the World War II internment of the Nisei, to our current ugly moment. But for a president to rile up his or her followers with racist slurs? Well, if you can defend that, I’d like to hear why. Actually, on second thought, never mind. Everyday life offers up a smorgasbord of degrading ignorance and stupidity; I don’t need to go looking for it.

Finally, my sympathies–which I understand is more or less useless–to Americans of Asian descent everywhere. And my deepest condolences to the friends and families to the victims of the Atlanta Massacre. The perpetrator, by the way, was a professing Christian (how that works escapes me) who I don’t doubt for a minute was motivated by the racist, anti-Asian rhetoric that is clearly au courant in the United States.

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.

A Concluding Assessment Lesson on Adjectives

If you search “lesson plan on adjectives” on this blog, you will find that there are a total of 11 lesson plans dealing with this part of speech; here is the concluding assessment lesson plan.

This lesson opens in my classroom with this Everyday Edit worksheet on Lucy Cousins’ Maisy books–and if your students enjoy the satisfaction of completing these exercises in correcting grammar, style, and spelling in another person’s prose (mine generally have), you can find a yearlong supply for download at no charge from the good people at Education World. This lesson generally extends across two days, so here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on malapropisms. Finally, here is the structured worksheet that closely follows the sequence of the 11 lessons that comprise this unit and serves as their concluding assessment.

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.

Book of Answers: Emily Dickinson’s Publications in Her Lifetime

“How many of Emily Dickinson’s poems were published during her lifetime? Seven. She wrote over 1,500.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Cultural Literacy: Emily Dickinson

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Emily Dickinson. I’ve never seen her taught in the public schools in which I’ve served, which for a variety of reasons has always mystified me. 

For her poems, long out of copyright, are available at no charge to readers everywhere. And her work? It is commonly regarded as among the most original of all time. It may require some effort, but I do think it is possible to arouse interest in students in reading Emily Dickinson.

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.

Doris Lessing

“Doris Lessing: (1919-2013) English novelist and short-story writer, born in Persia and for many years a resident of southern Rhodesia. Lessing’s first two published works, The Grass Is Singing (1950) and the stories in This Was the Old Chief’s Country (1951), are sent in Africa. She then began work on a series called ‘The Children of Violence’—including Martha Quest (1952), A Proper Marriage (1954), A Ripple from the Storm (1958), Landlocked (1965), and The Four-Gated City (1969)—that established her as a vividly realistic novelist, with an intense commitment to socialism and a particular capacity for identifying the social and emotional forces that shape women’s lives. The Golden Nottebook (1962), and ambitious experimental novel about a woman writer’s struggle to discover the meaning of ‘self’ has become a classic of feminist literature. While the primary interest in all of her work has remained the delicate, often destructive interplay between men and women, Lessing has continually expanded both her field of focus and her stylistic experiments. Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) and The Summer Before the Dark (1973) delve into aspects of neurotic disorders and madness. The ‘Canopus in Argus: Archives’ series, which is made up of RE: Colonized Planet 5, Shikasta (1979), The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five (1980), The Sirian Experiments (1981), The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982), and Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983) is a series of visionary, allegorical novels of the future in which archetypal images of men and women interact in a cosmos consisting of six zones, or ‘levels of being.’ Human concerns are dwarfed by the competition between galactic empires for control of the universe, but these conflicts also are an image of human history. The Good Terrorist, a novel, appeared in 1986. Lessing has also gained high praise as a writer of short stories. Among the most noteworthy of her collections are African Stories (1965), The Habit of Loving (1958), and The Stories of Doris Lessing (1978). Nonfiction works include African Laughter (1992), and Under My Skin (1994), a collection of essays.”

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

Cultural Literacy: Ruth Benedict

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Ruth Benedict, a towering figure in the study of anthropology in the United States. This is a short worksheet, three questions only, that doesn’t do justice to this path-breaking scholar.

Like Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. Benedict studied with Franz Boas at Columbia University. In fact, if Ms. Hurston’s Wikipedia page is accurate (I understand educators’ trepidation where Wikipedia is concerned, but entries like this–generally non-controversial–are reliable) she worked with Dr. Benedict at Columbia. Dr. Benedict and Ms. Hurston also worked with Margaret Mead, and Dr. Benedict apparently engaged in an intense romantic affair with Dr. Mead. Serving as president of the American Anthropological Association, Dr. Benedict was the first woman to lead a learned society in the United States. Her book Patterns of Culture became a standard text in the study of anthropology, and as far as I can tell remains an enduring classic.

In other words, Ruth Benedict is clearly an appropriate subject, in the hands of an interested student, for what was called in one high school in which I served a “college paper.”

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.