Category Archives: Teaching Literature and Writing

On Putting Powerful Tools in Unskilled Hands: Two Egregious Tendencies in Contemporary Poetry

NB: Several of the examples I use in this essay come from various essays by Randall Jarrell that I read years ago in my own wayward youth. If this were a scholarly piece, I would track those down and footnote … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry, Teaching Literature and Writing | 10 Comments

What K-12 Textbooks Are Like Now: A Sample lesson on the Declaration of Independence

[Begin lesson.] We hold (Did you know that Thomas Jefferson invented an automatic letter copying device? It’s pictured here. Higher-Order Thinking: how are letters different from email?) these truths (Cross-curricular Connections–Math: Truth tables are used in logic. Al-Farabi, pictured here, … Continue reading

Posted in Ed Reform, Humor, Teaching Literature and Writing | 2 Comments

Two Late-night Thoughts about Poetry

Two thoughts, tonight, about poetry First, a theory of poetry and how it means: Perhaps the most important lesson that I received, in college, about reading poetry occurred on a day when, in a class on nineteenth-century American poets, I … Continue reading

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Learning Theories, Models, and Techniques

NB: The following are all either instructional design models or can be adapted to create or at least to inform instructional design models. The list is far from complete, and the definitions are necessarily brief and so, in many cases … Continue reading

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On Learning that Hopkins Meant to Destroy His Own Poetry

for Diane Ravitch The great historian of education (and generally great all-round person) Diane Ravitch has written that her favorite poem is one by Gerard Manly Hopkins. So, I wrote this for her, about Hopkins, in Hopkins’s own style. The … Continue reading

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The Promise of Ed Tech

Ed tech companies are, of course, trying to take advantage of the pandemic to sell politicians and administrators on replacing teachers with educational technology. So, thought I would try my hand at writing some ad copy for these companies: Help … Continue reading

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Combating Standardized Testing Derangement Syndrome (STDs) in the English Language Arts

The dirty secret of the standardized testing industry is the breathtakingly low quality of the tests themselves. I worked in the educational publishing industry at very high levels for more than twenty years. I have produced materials for all the … Continue reading

Posted in Ed Reform, Teaching Literature and Writing, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Criticism and the Common [sic] Core [sic]

The Common [sic] Core [sic] State [sic] Standards [sic] in ELA certainly are “common,” but in the pejorative sense of the word. They are received, vulgar, uninformed, base, mediocre, pedestrian. One would expect that people putting together a single set … Continue reading

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How the Common Core Distorted and Dumbed Down Instruction in English

For many decades now, as in any occupied country, the Deformer/Disrupter occupiers of U.S. education–the invasion force that went forward, financed by Gates and Walton dollars, to take over our federal and state governments, has dominated discourse about education in … Continue reading

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Bob’s Tips for Wrighting Good

Writing Tip 1: In diction, strive for the vernacular and endemic; in other words, refrain from using lexemes, locutions, et hoc genus omne not of high frequency in standard English corpora, and avoid terminology of excessive length or technicality or … Continue reading

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