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Topic: More "collateral reading"

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Subject: More "collateral reading"
Date Posted: 12/21/2009 7:12 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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I've sometimes wondered why there are not required "collateral reading" lists for the various 'majors' in college, as part of the requirements the candidate must fulfill to earn the degree.   For instance, is one is striving for a degree in economics, shouldn't certain literary works be required reading, such as Moliere's The Miser;, Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations; Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class; Karl Marx,  The Communist Manifesto, and perhaps persons such as John Maynard Keynes  and Milton Friedman, etc.  Maybe Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and Jane Addams' Twenty Years a Hull House should be included, too.  Also, possibly, something like Oscar Handlin's The Immigrants.   For accountancy and finance students, biographies of figures such as J. Pierpont Morgan, the great banker, and perhaps some of the infamous "Robber Barons", should be recommended..

And I have thought for a long time now that Theater majors had ought to be required to read a LOT more books than they seem to do these days.   Where do they think all those great stories and characters they act out and portray on the stage or the screen originated, anyway?

Required collateral reading could go 'way beyond the Liberal Arts Departments, extending even into Engineering and Science Departments,. even.  The works of writers such as Lewis Thomas and Stephen Jay Gould and Stephen Hawking and Richard Feynman and others of this ilk should be much more widely known than they are.  Anyhoo, them's me sentiments.

December, 2009 - I've just finished reading two more titles that would be great collateral reading.  The first, for Fine Arts majors, is My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok, about a Hasidic boy driven to become a painter although it meant a tragic rift between him and his father; and the second, for Engineering students, is The Monkey's Wrench, by Primo Levi, about a rigger who acquires wisdom through his work around the world.

Date Posted: 12/26/2009 12:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Bonne,  I've wondered the same thing particularly about economics although not nearly as in depth as you have.

Can you create a collateral reading list for an aspiring preschool teacher or just a plain ol' teacher? What should I be reading?

Date Posted: 12/26/2009 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Laura:  I'll give it some thought, as soon as my houseguests clear out,,,,,,,,,but, in the meantime, a couple of books about teaching as a profession that I have enjoyed are Good Morning, Miss Dove, by Frances Gray Patton, and Up the Down Staircase, by Bel Kauffman.  The latter is about an urban high school, but still, it's an intimate look at things from a neophyte teacher's POV, and has many humorous bits, as well as accounts of  quirks and disappointments of "the system".  I used to volunteer as an ESOL(English for Speakers of Other Languages)  instructor to foreign-born adults, and a couple of old (but delightful) books about that are The Education of H*Y*M*A*N   K*A*P*L*A*N, and The Return of H*Y*M*A*N  K*A*P*L*A*N, by Leo Rosten.  Just as in "Mister Pock-heel's night school class", my classes had their merry moments, too!   ("Pock-heel" was how Kaplan pronounced 'Parkhill', the beleaguered instructor's name.)   I learned from those books that the opposite of "poor" is "fat" and many other interesting details about the English language!

I was touched by the parts of Funny in Farsi, by Firoozeh Dumas in which she pays tribute to her second-grade teacher at her new school in California.  Firoozeh's family are immigrants from Iran.  The teacher made an important difference in the reception Firoozeh got as a non-English-speaking pupil.  Also touching was the way the little girl in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith,  had to finagle in order to get to go to school, remember? 

I bet other readers in this Forum could help you with suggestions about non-academic reading for entrants into the teaching profession.   One of my private thoughts about schooling these days is----whatever happened to the use of poetry and 'memory work' in the elementary classroom?   Talking with my hubby (who is an older man----nine days older than I am), he told me about the "verse choir" he belonged to at Budlong School in Chicago.   He can still do some of it "by heart" . . .and he's now an "old man".   Now THAT's education!

Last Edited on: 12/26/09 5:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/28/2010 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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A Journal of the Plague Year, by Daniel Defoe, for anyone going into public health or medicine. Of course, it helps to have a good grounding in the biology of the plague first, because Defoe certainly didn't understand it (of course, no one did until the 20th century) but it's eye-opening for what Defoe understood about human nature in its reaction to the plague. His understanding, for instance, of the futility of shutting up houses infested with the plague; his understanding that it was just as necessary for the Lord Mayor to keep the poor fed to keep the city healthy as it was to keep the infected isolated; and (worst of all) his understanding of how utterly heedless most people will always be of the warnings set out by doctors to preserve their health. . . because everyone is always convinced nothing will happen to them.