TFA Turns Sixty

Below is the poem that inspired the title of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The novel turns sixty years old this week.

The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Library Card [Bonus]

Students in English I, English II, and English III can get 5 bonus points for the first quarter by bringing in their current public library cards and a book checked out from that library.

“Skim Reading is the New Normal”

According to an article in The Guardian, skim reading has become the new normal. Instead of reading closely and carefully, students first impulse has become to scan the text to try to extract the basic meaning without worrying about the details. Unfortunately, this means that students are not developing some of the cognitive skills needed to do a close reading when needed, such as “inference, critical analysis and empathy.” Furthermore, most students are not good at determining when to read closely and when to just skim. And for a growing number of students, it may no longer be a matter of choosing whether or not they want to skim: it has become their only option because it’s the only type of reading they know how to do well.

The article points out that “many college students actively avoid…classic literature…because they no longer have the patience to read longer, denser, more difficult texts.” But it goes on to argue that, “We should be less concerned with students’ ‘cognitive impatience,’ however, than by what may underlie it: the potential inability of large numbers of students to read with a level of critical analysis sufficient to comprehend the complexity of thought and argument found in more demanding texts, whether in literature and science in college, or in wills, contracts and the deliberately confusing public referendum questions citizens encounter in the voting booth.”

Read the full article here.


Essay Contest Semifinalists

Two Chadwick students were selected as semi-finalists in a national essay contest sponsored by the Ayn Rand Institute.  Twin sisters Kayla and Kylie Purdome wrote the essays last year as freshmen in Mr. Tyler Walker’s English I class and submitted them online. The winners were not announced until this summer.

The contest is one of the largest of its kind, giving away $4500 in cash prizes and collecting more than 10,000 entries annually. While they did not win any money, they did place in the top 2 percent of all submissions.

Note: They found two typos in the orginal version of this article. They have been corrected.

-via Chadwick School

Punctuating Words as Words

We recently finished up some definition essays in my college level courses. A question that kept coming up was “How do I punctuate words that refer to themselves?”

Do I use quotation marks or italics? Which of the following is correct?

“Humblebrag” is now in the dictionary.

Humblebrag is now in the dictionary.

There’s some debate about which is best, but ultimately it comes down to which style manual you are following. Since we are using MLA style, we follow their rules and use italics.

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue offered this summation:

Do not use quotation marks for words used as words themselves. In this case, you should use italics.

EX: The English word nuance comes from a Middle French word meaning “shades of color.”