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Wednesday
Mar182015

A shared love of mythology

On hearing my nearly five year old grandson was getting interested in Greek mythology, I stopped at Barnes & Noble and picked up a copy of my all time favorite version of the myths - the one you see above.

As I remember, I bought copies for both my own children. The pictures are wonderful if a little silly at times - the Kraken that tries to eat Andromeda looks like a giant earthworm with human teeth, but the text is a straight forward retelling of the most popular Greek myths.

Yeah, Bullfinch and Hamilton might be more comprehensive. But for my money, the D'Aulaires got it right in a very memorable way. Oh, that and the original Clash of the Titans movie.

Fun to share a beloved book with another generation.

 

Tuesday
Mar172015

Where is St. Patrick to drive the textbooks from the schools?

From Bill Bigelow's The Real Irish-American Story Not Taught in Schools, Zinn Education Project

Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Yet there is no shortage of material that can bring these dramatic events to life in the classroom. In my own high school social studies classes, I begin with Sinead O’Connor’s haunting rendition of “Skibbereen,” which includes the verse:

… Oh it’s well I do remember, that bleak
December day,
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive
Us all away
They set my roof on fire, with their cursed
English spleen
And that’s another reason why I left old
Skibbereen.

By contrast, Holt McDougal’s U.S. history textbook The Americans, devotes a flat two sentences to “The Great Potato Famine.” Prentice Hall’s America: Pathways to the Present fails to offer a single quote from the time. The text calls the famine a “horrible disaster,” as if it were a natural calamity like an earthquake. And in an awful single paragraph, Houghton Mifflin’s The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People blames the “ravages of famine” simply on “a blight,” and the only contemporaneous quote comes, inappropriately, from a landlord, who describes the surviving tenants as “famished and ghastly skeletons.” Uniformly, social studies textbooks fail to allow the Irish to speak for themselves, to narrate their own horror.

These timid slivers of knowledge not only deprive students of rich lessons in Irish-American history, they exemplify much of what is wrong with today’s curricular reliance on corporate-produced textbooks.

Many teachers I know complain about the de-professionalization of teaching and fear that technology's algorithms will replace human decision-making.

Personally, I can think of nothing less professional than allowing a textbook to drive the curriculum and nothing more enabling than putting kids in touch with interesting, relevant, and media-delivered materials with technology, chosen by the teacher.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday
Mar162015

Odd request of the month

In this morning's e-mail:
Dear Mr. Johnson,

 

My name is Timothy Maloney and I am writing in the hopes that you will assist me in building my collection. I have been collecting library cards for a few years now. Perhaps an inactive card as I do not need borrowing privileges. To date I have been issued cards by nearly 2200 libraries in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Ak-Chin Indian Community. Plus more than 35 countries. Originally, my desire was to visit each library, but this has proven unfeasible financially and due to my shoulder surgery. 

 
I am a big proponent of books and libraries and visit local libraries several times each week. The 2014 Summer Reading program kicked off on  June 1st and I completed at least eight logs before the program ended.  I share this to convey my deep respect and appreciation for libraries.
 
The collection has been displayed at various public libraries in northern Kentucky and at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.  From late February through mid-April the Clermont County (OH) Public Library will be showing the cards in four of their branches.
 
If you can fulfill my request please send a card to me:

Timothy Maloney
602 E. Shelby St.
Falmouth, KY 41040 USA
 
Thank you very much for taking time from your busy schedule to consider my humble request.
Pictures of previous displays of my collection at:
Sincerely,

Tim

 

Reading Builds Strong Minds
Got a spare library card around you can mail to Tim? Heaven knows libraries need all the supporters they can find!