The Tao of Learning: Assent, Skepticism, and the Ways We Learn

The Tao of Learning: Assent, Skepticism, and the Ways We Learn

I would like for us to think about two distinct ways of learning, which turn out to be two ways of knowing, and two ways of being. I am going to shorthand these two ways of knowing as “skepticism” and “assent” though I will use synonyms for both as I elaborate. The relationship between these two ways should be seen as reciprocal or dialogic or complementary—much like the yin and yang. Often when people are asked to draw the symbol of yin and yang they mistakenly color the one side in completely and leave the other empty—but the symbol’s power comes not just from the beauty of the circle bisected by a sine curve—but because in each half “the other” is represented. In the yin, the dark half, there is a light “eye” and in the light half, the yang, there is a dark “eye”.

One of the great gifts of the Enlightenment, perhaps the singular gift of the Enlightenment, is the gift of skepticism. The residue of the Enlightenment, the skeptical approach, has proven to be a tremendous tool to advance learning. In fact, one might argue that knowledge only exists with skepticism.

There are limits to perpetual skepticism, however. Descartes and his descendants ran into problems with radical doubt and Stephen Toulmin analyzes the failure of radical doubt in his book Cosmopolis. The philosopher Wayne Booth studied this radical skepticism as it appears in all forms of contemporary life and even identified what he helpfully calls “motivism.” Motivism states that people’s actions and their reasoning are not the product of their free will but rather of motives—often concealed even from themselves—and that those motives, being “unclean” de facto render their actions and opinions wrong and self-serving. Think of our political discourse filled as it is with statements beginning with, “The only reason that Senator X says this is….” Or, “The real reason that the President wants to do such and such is….” Motivism attacks the idea that there can be any verifiable actions or policies or ideas—and in some cases even facts—except, of course, one’s own. If someone’s motives can be questioned, and whose motives can withstand the inquiry of absolute doubt, then all of that person’s subsequent ideas and actions can be dismissed as self-interested. Booth’s intricate and demanding book-length argument, Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, fleshes out a series of lectures he gave at the University of Notre Dame where he demonstrates that contemporary life is far more comfortable with skepticism or doubt, often to the point of fetishizing it as, ironically, its own religion with its own dogma. It is clearly the predominate mode of intellectual inquiry in contemporary culture. In an age where despite a rampant publication of the self we are terrified of looking “duped” or “credulous” (“punked” in the vernacular) and where “belief” (in all sorts of areas) is held to be indefensible and merely a reflection of a weak mind and/or personal preference, skepticism and its close cousin, irony, are ascendant. One thinks of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris or those I think of as “evangelical atheists” who are as certain in their view as any religious fundamentalist.

To change one’s mind with shifting evidence is also regarded as a catastrophe to be avoided as one would avoid drinking raw sewage. This, of course, denies the possibility of growth, but that apparently matters little to those wanting to play “gotcha” or those terrified of “flip-flopping.”

This adoption of skepticism and irony is reflected not just in the sciences but in the arts. David Foster Wallace traced this notion to its logical conclusion and said: “Postmodern irony and cynicism has become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what’s wrong, because they’ll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony’s gone from liberating to enslaving.”

In fact, if I am honest with myself I will recognize that I have been guilty of exactly this and I need to be on guard against it—to teach myself to be careful of the seduction of skepticism.

Still, motivism is an extreme application of skepticism (hence the separate name). Which of us has not benefitted from doubting ourselves at some point—or from questioning others or received opinion? Indeed, little progress would be made if each generation merely genuflected at the altar of the previous generation. And this is the danger of “assent”—or really of blind assent. Though I’d say most people’s problems with systematic assent are related to psychological defense or fear—a fear of being taken advantage of—rather than a more reasoned response, but I could be wrong. Following Booth’s argument, we might point out that those devoted to skepticism as their tool for developing knowledge and learning about the world have assented to its primacy over all other methods—so is assent prior to skepticism and equally important to knowledge? I don’t know which is prior—that strikes me as something of a chicken-and-egg argument—but I cannot conceive of the advance of knowledge without both.

But to demonstrate that I will need to move away from Wayne Booth; I will need to appeal to a different contemporary philosopher, Tina Fey. You may know Fey as a wonderful comic and female outsider in a predominantly male genre; I’d say that her autobiography, Bossypants, is filled—as much comedy is—with philosophical insights delivered with a candy-coating. In a framed set-piece she asks us to consider that adopting the rules of improvisation that will change our lives (and eliminate “bellyfat,” though she acknowledges that part needs more investigation). Here are the rules of improv: 1) Always Agree and Say Yes; 2) Say “Yes, AND”; 3) Make Statements; and 4) There are no mistakes, only opportunities. So, how does this work in real life? Here is how Fey demonstrates rule 1, Agree and Say Yes. If I say, “’Freeze, I have a gun,’ and you say ‘That’s not a gun. It’s your finger,’ our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say ‘Freeze, I have a gun!’ and you say, ‘The gun I gave you for Christmas!’ then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.” What this rule teaches us, Fey points out, is to “respect what your partner has created.” Since teaching is relational—we gather with our students around the subject to be taught and journey together—and being a colleague is also relational—this is a good rule to know and to master. Respect what your student has created; respect what your colleague has created. (This does not prohibit us from later on going back and applying our skepticism to this first assertion that your finger is a gun; but if we applied the rule of skepticism first, we would not discover—or create—the next idea.)

Fey explains rule 2, “Yes, AND” in the following way, “If I start a scene with ‘I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,’ and you just say ‘Yeah…’ then we’re at a standstill. [but, if you follow on with] ‘What did you expect, we’re in hell,’ [or] ‘Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures,’ [or] ‘I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth,’ now we’re getting somewhere.” If the lesson to Rule 1, AGREE, is to “respect what your partner has created,” then the lesson to rule 2, Yes, AND, is that we each have a responsibility to contribute—it is OUR relationship. It is our relationship with our students or colleagues—not just their relationship.

The third rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. “This,” as Fey explains, “is a positive way of saying ‘Don’t ask questions all the time.’ If we’re in a scene and I say, ‘Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here? What’s in that box?’ I am putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers. “In other words: Whatever the problem is, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. We’ve all worked with that person. That person is a drag,” Fey concludes.

I agree; that person is a drag. I have been that person. Perhaps when we approach our students or colleagues with criticism—and I am assuming the criticism is legitimate since why would be criticizing otherwise?—maybe we could approach them by saying, “It looks like you are having trouble getting your homework done. How do you think we might address that?”

The lesson to MAKE STATEMENTS is “be part of the solution, be active, not passive.”

The last rule is THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities. As a veteran teacher I can tell you that I have graded many tests, quizzes, papers and projects FILLED with “opportunities” and often “opportunities” I really wish that I could ignore. But my students and I have often learned from the “opportunities.” If many students keep making “opportunities” then maybe I am not teaching what I think I am teaching.

A classroom, even when tightly scripted, (and all classes should be scripted), is a place of improvisation because the student doesn’t know the script. Fey concludes her piece on improvisation by pointing out that improv is a road to discovery. All learning is discovery, and we can discover as much by assenting as by doubting. Let’s think about the four rules and their lessons: AGREE and SAY YES so that we respect what our partner has created; SAY YES, AND so that we honor our responsibility to contribute; MAKE STATEMENTS so we remind ourselves to be part of the solution; and THERE ARE NO MISTAKES so that we teach ourselves to see opportunities.

Among Greg Boyle’s remarkable gifts in Tattoos on the Heart: his resiliency, his optimism, his hope, his practicality, his honesty, and his pain; perhaps the one I appreciate most is his gift to “stand with” the other. To empathize, not sympathize and not pity, but to stand with another. “Leon Dufour,” writes Boyle, “a world-renowned Jesuit theologian and Scripture scholar, a year before he died at ninety-nine, confided in a Jesuit who was caring for him, ‘I have written so many books on God, but after all that, what do I really know? I think, in the end, God is the person you’re talking to, the one right in front of you.” How Trinitarian that concept is. The Gospel of the Trinitarians is the one that tells us the parable of the saved and the damned. The saved fed Jesus when hungry, clothed him when naked, visited him in prison, gave him drink when thirsty and comforted him when ill. The saved are unable to remember having done this. So Jesus tells them that whenever they did it for the least of his brothers, they did it for him. They “stood with” the others. The damned did not; in fact they want a do-over. “God,” they say, “if we knew it was you of course we would have behaved better!”
This ability to truly see others, to—by an act of the imagination—place yourself with them, is a form of assent. If skepticism functions as a distancing tool (like irony or doubt), we use assent as a kind of embrace—an intellectual embrace that brings us to stand with the idea of a partner (or critic). Boyle quotes the poet Wendell Berry who says that, “You have to be able to imagine lives that are not yours.” I suspect this is because that willed imaginative empathy is a distinctly human quality. I doubt anyone is fully human until she can put herself in the place of another. Edith Stein, the Carmelite nun and Jew, who was executed in Auschwitz, argued, and I am paraphrasing Garry Wills here, that we achieve our own interiority, our soul, our self, only by the interplay with other interiorities. I explore other persons like me and different from me, and define a self in the process—so that the isolated person is a non-person. Even our God is not an isolated God but one who exists in relationship with a Self. Moral progress, Stein argues, is a matter of making a self that pays its debts to the other selves that helped it come into being. To break off or diminish that respectful interplay with other minds is morally to die. And really, how dare we ignore the debts we owe each other? Respect what the partner has created; remember your obligation to participate, be part of the solution, see opportunities where others see failure.

How do we learn the interplay with other interiorities? How do we teach that? Is assent or skepticism more likely to lead us to that goal? It seems to me that you will be more likely to inhabit someone else’s point of view in an act of assent. Even if you later reject that point of view, having had it is a remarkable tool for growth. I would say we are more likely to recognize that interplay with others in assent than in skepticism, we are more likely to pay our debts to others in assent than in skepticism.
At DeMatha, we strive to provide an education that is both timeless and timely. If we educate only for the timely we will be forever chasing the new, trying to harness the fleeting. But what if we “stand with” our students, “stand with” our colleagues, practice assent as well as doubt. What if we teach them timeless values and ideas and approaches and make use of timely discoveries and technology. I’d like us to try so that we will have educated the whole person.

Ordinarily I would end at this point but I want to append what the Japanese call an atogaki. The literal translation of atogaki is “afterword” or “postscript” but it means quite a bit more. A Japanese author of a nonfiction book or article will often in the atogaki provide a guide for how to critique his or her work. As the builder of the argument, the author knows where more spackle and tape and paint have gone in to making the argument appear cleaner and smoother than it really is. A Japanese atogaki will often contain phrases such as, “Had I further time to develop my thesis I would have done the following,” or “The evidence is weakest at this point and I would like to pursue further corroboration.” How typically Japanese this seems to me. So, here is a partial atogaki of this talk. I have been hesitant to give this talk for many reasons: the first is that I find the concepts herein are demanding and the philosophy difficult and I fear my own examples and explanations may be inadequate and so I risk losing some people; 2) I do not want to be misunderstood as arguing for either one of these two ways of knowing above the other—neither is “better” than the other in every situation; 3) I do not want people to think that I am after a kind of special pleading that demands acquiescence given my position as principal and my interest in defending “knowing through assenting.” That is, I don’t want to be heard as asking for people to agree with me on every decision or approach or action. One of the most important gifts we can have in life are the people who will force us to articulate as clearly as we can what we do and why we do it, who will encourage us to face our limitations—to battle those—and often that happens in the realm of skepticism (not motivism but genuine skepticism) though I believe it can also happen in assent; 4) I know I missed several opportunities to make closer connections; for example I ignored Wallace’s use of the word “redeemed”—a distinctly religious word—and I didn’t make anything out of his pairing of “liberating and enslaving”—those words which echo our Trinitarian charism; and 5) I am pretty sure that I did not really pave the way for the transition that explains how assent as illustrated through improv connects to Boyle’s call to “stand with” the other—though I sense it exists. Doubtless there are many other lacunae large and small but these seem to me the most pressing.

I hope we’ll have a great year, that we’ll stand with kids and stand with families and stand with colleagues, that we will doubt and assent, that we will discover—both knowledge and wisdom, both ourselves and others. Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Baccalaureate 2014: The Art of Remembering

I know a high school graduate who got cut from the baseball team twice—despite practicing inordinately hard for a whole year, giving up his part-time job to run and throw on a daily basis. This graduate also, during his high school years, got dumped by his first girlfriend, got D’s in classes, flunked an occasional test, got in trouble with his parents for not working hard, was not allowed to get his driver’s license because his grades were bad and he had at least a couple of teachers that he thought were incompetent—maybe they were.

So, I imagine that you think you would not have to ask this student what his high school and high school years were like. Well, I am glad you asked me anyway. Because even though all that first part is true about my own experiences, so is this—I got to play on a terrific soccer team, I met friends who I still have, I had many teachers that I admired and one or two whose influence on me I still feel. I also was witness to people with a work ethic I admired extravagantly, a school whose mission was inclusive and generous, and a way of living—not a lifestyle—that I could admire and emulate, however imperfectly.

A lifestyle reflects your choice in clothes, car, hair, entertainment options, and the like. A way of life reflects you core principles—your commitment to you family and friends. Your awareness of those less fortunate and your willingness to side with them. Your pride in being a person of your word in a world that thinks little of breaking contracts. I hope that at DeMatha your have learned the value of a way of life and not a lifestyle.

My particular thanks to the parents and all those who have made your education possible. They have invested in you and your future in ways that show the profound depth of their love for you. When you love someone you are concerned about their long-term well-being, not necessarily their immediate desires. This is why parents have their children inoculated against diseases. Even though the shot hurts momentarily, the long term effects can be life-saving. It is distinctly human to plan for the future; we make pulleys and promises based on our knowledge and belief in cause and effect. Your parents have sacrificed to try to give you an opportunity that will last you the rest of your life. Education is forever, an inoculation against ignorance, bigotry, small-mindedness and short-sightedness; and a religious education is forever and beyond—that’s real concern about someone’s long term well-being. You can never pay your parents back—except by doing for your own children and the children of others what has been done for you.

As you tell the story of your high school career you can focus on whatever parts of it you want to and you can make that experience whatever you want. I encourage you to make it one that reflects the best in you, one that shows you not as a victim of circumstances to whom things happened but as an agent of your own education, as the author of your own life. It’s not that I don’t remember the bad grades or getting cut or any of the other things. But I remember my responsibility and the love of my parents who sacrificed for and invested in me.

To the class of 2014: I will always be grateful for the part you have played in helping form me and in helping form DeMatha. I will be so proud to call you fellow alums this Friday.

Leave a comment

Filed under education, pedagogy, teaching, Uncategorized

10 Minute Mini-Lesson: Logic and Lyrics, Rhyme and Rhetoric

Here is an assignment I did with my students today that came to me based on a song I heard while I was at the gym. It was great fun and just what we needed as a brief break. I teach all boys, juniors, and this might not be appropriate for all levels (but the idea of taking something and carving it up for students to put back together would still be valid). I am always interested in logic, inferences, rhetorical skills and reasoning–and this has it all. NEVER let anyone talk you out of having FUN in class (a common temptation because then you aren’t “serious” enough).

I gave the students the following set up: What follows are the lyrics to a song. You need to make 4 lines of either 6 or seven syllables. Each line will begin, “I make a…” and then you will pick one from column A and one from column B. You’ll need to account for rhyme (where should the rhyme go?) and though there are several ways to put this together, there is really only one “best” way.

Column A                                                                          Column B

1. Rich Woman                                                               A. Blush

2. Young Girl                                                                   B. Steal

3. Old Woman                                                                 C. Squeal

4. Good Woman                                                             D. Beg

 

The clue that I gave them was that three from column A “violate” our expectation of them and one does what is “expected.” You could, of course tell them it is two lines of hexameter (or a 12 syllable and a 13 syllable line that rhyme). But you still have to get things in the correct order. The most common “mistake” my students made was assigning the Rich Woman to Steal. That makes sense of course but does not leave a particularly good answer for the Good Woman. If you gave the Good Woman “blush” then the Old Woman would be left with either “Beg” or “Squeal”–neither of which is as satisfactory as the best way.  Here is the way that George Thorogood (“Bad to the Bone”) frames it and I’ll say a few words about thinking through the “best” organization”

I make a Rich Woman Beg,

I make a Good Woman Steal,

I make an Old Woman Blush

I make a Young Girl Squeal.

Why is this better than, say switching lines 2 and 4 or 1 and 3. You would preserve the rhyme and cadence in either case. But look carefully, this way allows the parallel construction of the old/young to be paired and both the other ways separate them. (This also goes back to flawed way of doing it from above where if the Rich Woman Steals then the Old Woman/Young Woman pairing is not as strong.) In addition, this way builds from the first three lines of the women acting counter to their nature or experience and closing with the one that A) is not a woman but a girl and B) acts as we might expect.

I was so impressed with my students as they wrestled around through some mistakes–all got the rhyme though some began with a couplet–but that wouldn’t really make the best way to sing it, now would it. In any event, we had a great time–and perhaps the unintended benefit was that the rest of the class (Chapter 23 of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man) was awesome.

2 Comments

Filed under close reading, critical thinking, education, inferential skills, poetry, popular culture, teaching, writing exercise

W.B. Yeats’ “The Folly of Being Comforted”: A Poem for St. Patrick’s Day

The Irish poet William Butler Yeats is perhaps the greatest English language poet of the 20th century—if he is not in a class by himself, then the class he is in doesn’t take long to call roll.

I present here two versions of Yeats’ “The Folly of Being Comforted.” Yeats was an inveterate reviser of his works and this one benefited substantially from his relentless tinkering. We’ll be spending time with the one on the right but I thought you might get a kick out of seeing the earlier version. Yeats is a terrific example of the kind of artist who drills so deeply into the personal that he discovers the universal. His life-long love of the great Irish beauty and revolutionary Maud Gonne is well known. Too often, though, biographers, critics and readers spend endless amount of time trying to tie every one of Yeats’ poems to some biographical element of his life. But autobiography isn’t poetry and “The Folly of Being Comforted” is poetry. You’ll find in the right margin that I have applied rhyme scheme—designated by capital letters—and a syllable count for each line in parentheses. We can quibble about the syllable count in line 4 of both versions depending on how we pronounce “easier” with two syllables /ez-yer/ or three syllables /e-z-er/. An iambic foot has two syllables and the way you end up with some 11 syllable lines is usually through the use of substitute, 3-syllable feet.

This is a sonnet—but not a traditional one—and Yeats, like a gymnast using the entire mat space in a floor routine, shows amazing creativity inside the rigorous confines of the sonnet form: 14 lines, rhymed, iambic pentameter. Often sonnets will have an octave (8-line segment) and a sestet (6-line segment) or three quatrains (4-line units) and a couplet (2-line wrap-up). Yeats rejects both of those patterns and rearranged the poem on the page in the second version so that line 6 is broken in two—to emphasize the pause and change in speakers; and he separated the last two lines to reinforce the pause and again allow the change in voice to settle in.
Take a read through the 1933 version of the poem (which is below the first version of 1902; you will need to click on the link which I had to do this way to retain the formatting–critical to reading and appreciating this poem):

“The Folly of Being Comforted” (1902)

ONE that is ever kind said yesterday: A (10)
“Your well beloved’s hair has threads of grey, A (10)
And little shadows come about her eyes; B (10)
Time can but make it easier to be wise, B (11)
Though now it’s hard, till trouble is at an end; C (11)
And so be patient, be wise and patient, friend.” C (11)
But heart, there is no comfort, not a grain; D (10)
Time can but make her beauty over again, D (11)
Because of that great nobleness of hers; E (10)
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs E (10)
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways, F (11)
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze. F (10)
O heart! O heart! if she’d but turn her head, G (10)
You’d know the folly of being comforted. G (11)

 

The Folly of Being Comforted

 

One that is ever kind said yesterday:
`Your well-belovéd's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience.'
                             Heart cries, `No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild summer was in her gaze.

O heart! O heart! If she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted.

 

Yeats gets three voices into this brief poem—the long-time friend (the one who is “ever kind” gets lines 2 through the first 7-syllables of line 6 or 48 of the 145 syllables [33%]), the narrator (line 1, syllables 8 and 9 of line 6, and lines 13 and 14 or 31 total syllables [21%]), and the narrator’s heart (last syllable of line 6 through line 12 who gets 64 syllables [44%]). The friend comforts the narrator with a version of the “time heals all wounds” argument. As a syllogism it might read: You fall in love with what is beautiful; your beloved gets older, her hair gets gray, the laugh lines appear; she won’t be as beautiful and so you won’t be so sad.

But look at line 6, a 7-syllable conclusion to the friend’s encouragement and a 3-syllable shift to a new speaker—the narrator’s heart, thereby giving us the 10-syllable line and the proper rhyme of /No/ with /so/. The heart of the narrator “cries” and cries out—“No.” That anguish is extraordinary—the friend’s wisdom is rejected because Time makes her beautiful over and over again with every season of her life. We realize that the narrator never loved her just for her physical beauty but instead he loved her for that “great nobleness” of character and the passion—“the fire that stirs about her”—that she brings to life. Her beauty grows ever greater because it is a mature beauty that has eclipsed the beauty of her youth—“she had not these ways” when she was in the spring of life and the summer and fall of life stretched out before her. Love is not something that can be “reasoned” away or that yields to time—and that is a powerful idea.

There is lots of wonderful sound to the poem but I’d like to point out a tension that Yeats creates that serves the poem well. The use of couplet rhyme usually means that every line has an end-stop. Consider the following:

“Order is Heav’n’s first law; and this confest,
Some are, and must be, greater than the rest.
Or
“Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of Mankind is Man.”
Or
“A little learning is a dang’rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring.”
Or
“True Wit is Nature to Advantage drest,
What oft was Thought, but ne’er so well Exprest.”

All of those couplets are from Alexander Pope. But Yeats creates tension by pitting the couplet rhyme with its end-stops against the use of enjambment—the lack of punctuation that causes one to read through the rhyme to the next line. Lines 4 to 5, 9 to 10, and 11 to 12 all mute the impact of the rhyme giving a conversational tone to a highly constructed form. The break in 6 suspends the rhyme of “so” and “No” to again mute it. So read and listen to the poem one more time, note the change in layout from 1902 to 1933 that helps Yeats reinforce his sense of pace; and let’s think about the movement of time, the true nature of beauty, and the permanence of love.

The Folly of Being Comforted

One that is ever kind said yesterday:
`Your well-belovéd's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience.'
                             Heart cries, `No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild summer was in her gaze.

O heart! O heart! If she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted.

1 Comment

Filed under books and learning, education, pedagogy, teaching, Uncategorized

A Teacher’s Diary: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man Chapter 14, The Chthonian

I am keeping a “teacher’s diary” of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Each video is under 5 minutes and serves as a review of the chapter as well as introducing a few of the numberless ways of thinking about this masterwork. All 25 chapters get a video as do the Prologue, the Epilogue, a couple of critical approaches, and there is a pre-reading video.

https://present.me/view/143904-invisible-man-14-the-chthonian

Leave a comment

Filed under books and learning, books that shaped America, education, pedagogy, Ralph Ellison, teaching, Uncategorized

A Teacher’s Diary: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man 17 Clifton, Ras and the Fight Under the Streetlamp

I am keeping a “teacher’s diary” of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Each video is under 5 minutes and serves as a review of the chapter as well as introducing a few of the numberless ways of thinking about this masterwork. All 25 chapters get a video as do the Prologue, the Epilogue, a couple of critical approaches, and there is a pre-reading video.

https://present.me/view/147736-im-17-clifton-ras-broken-streetlig

Leave a comment

Filed under books and learning, books that shaped America, critical thinking, education, inferential skills, pedagogy, Ralph Ellison, teaching, Uncategorized

A Teacher’s Diary: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man Chapter 16, The Arena Speech

I am keeping a “teacher’s diary” of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Each video is under 5 minutes and serves as a review of the chapter as well as introducing a few of the numberless ways of thinking about this masterwork. All 25 chapters get a video as do the Prologue, the Epilogue, a couple of critical approaches, and there is a pre-reading video.

https://present.me/view/147709-invisible-man-16-the-arena-speech

Leave a comment

Filed under books and learning, books that shaped America, critical thinking, education, inferential skills, pedagogy, Ralph Ellison, teaching, Uncategorized