Textbooks

Realizing as I grade a series of midterms for a class where I did not assign a comprehensive textbook that a “bad” reading of a textbook produces much more than a “bad” reading of a monograph or a provocative article.

In other words, students still get something from the time they spend with a textbook — no matter how badly written or tediously designed — but it appears as though the rewards of genuine readings can only be realized if the “reading” is done well.
Scary, I think.  I hoped that giving provocative, well-written academic articles would create better discussions and lead to more interesting mid-term exams.

It appears that I erred.

E.H. Carr

E.H. Carr, What is History 1961.

Much of what has been written in English-speaking countries in the last ten years about the Soviet Union, and in the Soviet Union about the English-speaking countries, has been vitiated by this inability to achieve even the most elementary measure of imaginative understanding of what goes on in the mind of the other party, so that the words and actions of the other are always made to appear malign, senseless, or hypocritical. History cannot be written unless the historian can achieve some kind of contact with the mind of those about whom he is writing.

Re-write 2007 ?
Much of what has been written in English-speaking countries in the last ten years about the Middle East, and in the Middle East about the English-speaking countries, has been vitiated by this inability to achieve even the most elementary measure of imaginative understanding of what goes on in the mind of the other party, so that the words and actions of the other are always made to appear malign, senseless, or hypocritical. History cannot be written unless the historian can achieve some kind of contact with the mind of those about whom he is writing.

Newark Principal

This description of a principal of a school in Newark is spot-on for leadership in troubled public schools:

“He’s not the Joe Clark kind of tough… He doesn’t strong-arm kids. He knows that you have to show them that you care about them and won’t give up on them, and every kid, no matter how big, wants to feel safe. Then you just have to be consistent.”

That’s it.