Good Reads

Interesting and thoughtful essay on what’s wrong with the current movement to vandalize statues and topple cultural heroes.

 

Inebriates of Virtiue is an excellent, excellent read.  Here’s a taste:

Yale’s new bureaucracy is called the “Committee on Art in Public Spaces.” Its charge? To police works of art on campus, to make sure that images offensive to favored populations are covered over or removed. At the residential college formerly known as Calhoun, for example, the Committee has removed stained glass windows depicting slaves and other historical scenes of Southern life. Statues and other representations of John C. Calhoun—a distinguished statesman but also an apologist for slavery—have likewise been slotted for the oubliette.

But impermissible attitudes and images are never in short supply once the itch to stamp out heresy gets going. Yesterday, it was Calhoun and representations of the Antebellum South. Today it is a carving at an entrance to Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library depicting an Indian and a Puritan. The Puritan, if you can believe it, was holding a musket—a gun! Quoth Susan Gibbons, one of Yale’s librarian-censors: its “presence at a major entrance to Sterling was not appropriate.” Why not? Never mind. Solution? Cover over the musket with a cowpat of stone. (But leave the Indian’s bow and arrow alone!)

The New Elite’s Silly Virtue-Signaling Consumption
The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, Princeton University Press, 272 pages
By BENJAMIN SCHWARZ • September 14, 2017
Excerpt:

“Currid-Halkett convincingly argues that the consumer preferences of today’s elite—be it the approved podcast, TED Talk, or magazine; goat tacos from the farmers market, a five-dollar cup of Intelligentsia Coffee, ceviche at the Oaxacan restaurant in the approved urban enclave, or tuition for the anointed school—are now the primary means by which members of the educated elite establish, reinforce, and signify their identities. In a detailed analysis of the experience of shopping at a Whole Foods supermarket, for instance, she explores the rather stark hypothesis that “for the aspirational class, we are what we eat, drink, and consume more generally.” By creating “an identity and story to which people wish to subscribe,” the store allows members of that class to “consume [their] way to a particular type of persona.” The upshot is that elite consumption—the pursuit of personal gratification—somewhat paradoxically entwines with the pursuit and buttressing of what amounts to a tribal identity.”

I am reminded of the Sheep that Shopping Shaped

I may have posted this before. It’s shorter than the others, an article rather than an essay. It’s about why it’s important to write your notes by hand rather than via keyboard. I find it particularly interesting because you could replace writing here with narration and find the same benefits (so use both!). Writing notes by hand requires you to slow down, process, organize, select, prioritize:

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” he said. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain, it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize.”

The result?

“Learning is made easier,” he concluded.”

These are longer essays/articles.  If you haven’t got a kindle  (affiliate link) or downloaded a kindle app to your mobile device yet, you should, and then you should use push to kindle to send articles to your e-reader so you can read them offline and anywhere you go.

You could assign these or similar articles to your high school students for reading.  After they read, some possible assignments could be:

  1. Narrate orally.
  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write down as much as you can remember as fast as you can.  The next day, organize your thoughts from this exercise into a review of the article (or, if not the next day, a couple days, or even a week later)
  3. Summarize the main point of each paragraph (this is not the time for the student to argue with the points in the article. It’s an exercise in understanding the point, later, when they are sure they understand what the author is saying, they can argue, but understanding must come first).
  4.  Make an outline
  5. Make a simple list of key points.
    Pick one of those points and respond to it in a short essay of your own, or make it the topic of a journal entry.

These are merely suggestions, not requirements, and you probably should not do more than 2, if that many.  You don’t have to assign them to your kids, you could do it yourself.  Or just read, and think.  Thinking should not be optional.

 

You may also like Isaac Watts on improving the mind through reading.

And you might enjoy Books on Reading.

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