Friday, December 9, 2022

Sold a Story : responses

Here are two responses to the podcast Sold a Story : How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong.

From a letter signed by fifty-eight teachers, writers, and administrators. “A call for rejecting the newest reading wars”:

We’re dismayed that at this moment in our history, when all of us should be banding together to support literacy education, the podcast Sold a Story fans divisiveness, creating a false sense that there is a war going on between those who believe in phonics and those who do not.
From a reply to that letter signed by more than 650 current and former teachers, “For the students we wish we’d taught better”:
A central point of the Sold a Story podcast is that the research “wars” around foundational reading skills were already won and lost decades ago — and that few educators have ever heard of this research, because an entire industry of education publishers, coaches and curriculum writers have either ignored or actively resisted it, needlessly encumbering the efforts of thousands of teachers like us, our students, and their families along the way.
If you’re a regular reader of Orange Crate Art, you already know what I think about Sold a Story and reading instruction.

A quiz, revised

A quiz, found via Mueller, She Wrote: Which Head of State Should You Date? I had to do some revising, even if I lack Adobe’s Proxima Nova font.



Related reading
All OCA misspelling posts (Pinboard)

[But I’m much too fun-loving to think of hyphenation as a favorite quality in a partner.]


Life in Texas:

When Wolfforth School District was unified with three other rural districts (Carlisle, Hurlwood and Foster) in 1935, they applied for the name “Friendship Independent School District.” The application was rejected as the name was already taken by a Houston-area school district; thus, officials opted for the name Frenship.
The Frenship Independent School District hosted a district-wide spelling bee earlier this year.

Thanks, Seth.

Thursday, December 8, 2022


I took a photograph of a tree two years ago, thinking I’d post it. I never did. So I took a picture of the tree again a couple of days ago. Click either for a larger view.

[November 26, 2020.]

[December 6, 2022.]

Two nests look as if they might be the same, but since November 2020 I’ve sometimes seen this tree with no nests. The current tenants are all hoping that the building doesn’t go condo.

[They must be squirrel nests, right?]

Domestic comedy

“We should watch — we haven’t seen it in years, and gaslight is a word of the year.”

“Michael, we watched Gaslight just a few months ago.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[Let the record show that Elaine’s response was instantaneous.]

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

On Willa Cather’s birthday

Willa Cather was born on this day in 1873.

From a letter to the writer Zoë Akins, April 19, 1937, in The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, ed. Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout (New York: Knopf, 2013). The subject is Daniel Totheroh’s dramatic adaptation of Cather’s 1923 novel A Lost Lady. In an earlier letter to Akins, Cather had already made clear that she would not permit a dramatic adaptation of her work. The diaeresis in Akins’s first name sometimes appears in the letter, sometimes not.

My dear Zoë:

You will forgive me if I say [a] word in typewriter about Mr. [Daniel] Totheroh’s play, which I am sending back to you.

Take Mrs. Forrester’s first entrance in Act I. What does she say when she comes into the Judge’s office? My, your stairs are steep! That is what the scrub woman says when she arrives. Did you ever, Zoe, know a woman with any spunk or sparkle who used “my” as an exclamation? 1 remember a fat old Methodist neighbour who used to drag out “My, but the days are warm, Mr. Cather!” In her first sentence, Zoe, he shows her up for a common, dreary thing. In her next sentence, she refers to her (1) age and to her (2) travelled state! Two things she would never have done. (1. Her particular weakness, 2. Bad taste.)

A little later she trills to this lumping Swede that his little boy’s eyes are “blue as a mountain lake”. Ho-Ho! When she doesn’t talk like a corsetless old Methodist woman, she talks like a darling club woman, and says she “would die” to have such eyes etc. That expression stamps her socially. So does “you can help me out”. Everything she says stamps her socially, except when she brazenly quotes me. She says Niel will be “a great asset” to Sweet Water society. Lord, they needed assets—some future, with Marian as the social leader!

Everything that Niel says is the speech of a cotton-mouthed booby. As to Mrs. Forrester’s smirking about “drinking here alone, with two men” —— the dining-room girls in our little town-hotel might have said that; the commonest King’s Daughter or Eastern Star sister would have refused the sherry, or drunk it and said nothing. On page 13, the playwright becomes unbearable because he makes the Judge bring out discreditable insinuations about Captain Forrester. The integrity of the book really rests on Captain Forrester.

My dear Zoë, I read no further than the first act. Nothing could induce me.
And later in the letter: “We’ll forget this episode forever.”

Related reading
All OCA Cather posts (Pinboard)

Opening night

This is quite wonderful:

“Their needs,” “your livelihood”

Abdulkader Sinno, professor of political science at Indiana University Bloomington, wrote a letter to graduate students explaining his decision to resign as his department’s job-placement director. An excerpt:

I am resigning because I don’t want to be complicit in keeping you in a PhD program that doesn’t help your advancement. The department needs graduate students to cheaply teach or assist in teaching its undergraduate students, and for faculty to keep claiming that we have a serious PhD program. I just don’t believe that you should pay for their needs with your livelihood.

The faculty are perpetuating the myth that a PhD from a modest department like ours can be a reliable route to a middle class life. It is not anymore.
Inside Higher Ed has the story, complete with vague reassurances and evasions from the department’s director of graduate studies: “It would be good if this dies down soon for sake of our students’ mental health.” You can read the letter, across two screenshots, here.

Before I started in a doctoral program, the director said, “Of course, you know there are no jobs.” And of course, I wasn’t prepared to believe it. My path to a tenure-track position is one that still amazes me. I wrote it out in this post: Fluke life.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Dies mirabilis

Special Consul Jack Smith issued subpoenas. Representative Bennie Thompson said that the January 6 committee will probably make criminal referrals to the Justice Department. Capitol police officers and family members refused to shake hands with Republican leaders. Michael Flynn’s attempt to block a subpoena was denied. The Trump Organization was found guilty on all seventeen counts. And Raphael Warnock won in Georgia.

The scary thing is that nearly 1.7 million people were willing to see Herschel Walker in the United States Senate.

I hope I have the Latin right.

Fifty blog-description lines

For many years the first words of Van Dyke Parks’s song “Orange Crate Art” — “Orange crate art was a place to start” — served as what Blogger calls a “blog description line.” In May 2010, I began to vary the line, always choosing some word or words or element of punctuation from a post then on the front page, and always keeping the quotation marks that had enclosed Van Dyke’s words. I like looking at these bits of language from a distance. Sometimes I recognize the context at once. The first comes from a post about Charlotte Brontë’s Villette; the second, from Villette itself. The third? You got me. “Pflaaaap!”

“The estrade — okay, platform”
“The nobody you once thought me!”
“Get on with it”
“Post stuff”
“Space for thought”
“At work or at play”
“Walking through a wooded area”
“Brought to the screen on an excellent shoestring”
“When we started communicating, we were using pay
“They grow up so fast”
“Click for larger turtles”
“The wet lead makes a darker line”
“Extensive parking facilities”
“Now with more Chock full o’Nuts”
“Stealing radio tubes and engaging in fisticuffs”
“A candy store of the imagination”
“E, G, D, A”
“Ontological underpinnings”
“Not a clue”
“Eyes open”
“And supplies”
“Did he write this himself?”
“Torn between ‘Huh?’ and ‘Wha?’”
“Qua qua qua”
“Where has Merrick Garland gone?”
“Redolent, redolent of coffee”
“Just ‘music’”
“Why a duck”
“Shirtsleeve weather”
“Dose folks”
“Check your local listings”
“Mid-century postmodern”
“America is minorities”
“Once a subfolder, always a subfolder”
“Truth matters”
“Hey, what a cat, to dig Troy”
“67 + 92 + 25 = 184”
“Run rushes with Zanuck”
“I’m on it”
“Items in a series”
“Changeable signs”
“The reason is not because”
“Sound it out”
“I hope this blog post finds you well”
“Easy to install … see back of box”
“For, and, nor, but, or, yet, so”
“Shiny topics”

More blog-description lines
Two hundred blog-description lines : Fifty more : And fifty more : But wait — there’s more : Another fifty : Is there no end to this folly? : It would appear not