All posts by history

Quote from DuBois

The winter edition of Souls opens with this quote from W.E.B. Du Bois:

We are prisoners of propaganda. The people of the United States have become completely sold to that method of conducting industry which has been so powerful and triumphant in the world for two centuries that Americans regard it as the only normal way of life. We regard the making of things and their purchase and sale for private profit as the chief end of living. We look on painting and poetry as harmless play. We regard literature as valuable only as handmaiden to industry. We teach business as a science when it is only an art of legal theft. We regard advertising as a profession when it teaches the best way to lie. We consider the unselfish sacrifice of one to the progress of all as wasted effort. Wealth is the height of human ambition even when we have no idea how to spend it, except to make more wealth or to waste it in harmful or useless ostentation. We want high profits and high wages even if most of the world starves.

Putting aside questions of right, and suspecting all our neighbors as being as selfish as we ourselves are, we have adopted a creed of wholesale selfishness. We believe that, if all people work for thier own selfigh advantage, the whole world will be the best of possible worlds. This is the rat race upon which we are set, and we are suspicious and afraid of folk who oppose this program, and plead for the old kindliness, the new use of power and machine for the good of the unfortunate and the welfare of all the world of every race and color.

Essay entitled “The Negro and Socialism” 1958.

Quote from NYRB

Russell Baker surveys Stephen Miller’s new book, Conversation: A History of a Declining Art, in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, .

What I liked was his description of what makes a good conversation:

Both participants listen attentively to each other; neither tries to promote himself by pleasing the other; both are obviously enjoying an intellectual workout; neither spoils the evening’s peaceable air by making a speech or letting disagreement flare into anger; they do not make tedious attempts to be witty. They observe classic conversational etiquette with a self-discipline that would have pleased Michel de Montaigne, Samuel Johnson, or any of a dozen other old masters of good talk whom Miller cites as authorities.

This etiquette, Miller says, is essential if conversation is to rise to the level of—well, “good conversation.” The etiquette is hard on hotheads, egomaniacs, windbags, clowns, politicians, and zealots. The good conversationalist must never go purple with rage, like people on talk radio; never tell a long-winded story, like Joseph Conrad; and never boast that his views enjoy divine approval, like a former neighbor of mine whose car bumper declared, “God Said It, I Believe It, And That Settles It.”

I’d like to snip this and put it in the opening portion of my next few syllabi…

Teacher Education

Article by Zeichner/Conklin (2005) cites the following in describing the shape of teacher education programs:

“The dominance of a given program structure at a particular historical moment depends as much on compelling social forces as it does on the demonstrated strengths or weaknesses of the form itself.”

Feiman-Namser (1990, p.229)

Luke Wilson on playing the straight man

I think I’ve been playing the straight man ever since I first realized I was in over my head academically. Math in particular. And science, come to think of it. Not to overlook foreign languages. Not really knowing what was going on in class — and not really caring to understand or actually taking the time to study — I put a great deal of effort into my expression. Earnest yet vacant. Yearning yet lost. I had one simple goal for the teachers. I wanted them to think: This Wilson kid might not be that bright, but damn it, he’s trying. The poor bastard.

Early Normal School

I answer briefly, that it was my aim, and it would be my aim again, to make better teachers, and especially, better teachers for our common schools; so that those primary seminaries, on which so many depend for their education, might answer, in a higher degree, the end of their institution. Yes, to make better teachers; teachers who would understand, and do their business better; teachers who should know more of the nature of children, of youthful developments, more of the subject to be taught, and more of the true methods of teaching; who would teach more philosophically, more in harmony with the natural development of the young mind, with a truer regard to the order and connection in which the different branches of knowledge should be presented to it, and, of course, more successfully.

Cyrus Peirce, 1851

(founder of the first Normal School, Lexington, MA, 1839.)

Source: Borrowman, Merle, ed. 1965. Teacher Education in America: A documentary history. New York: Teachers College Press.