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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Awards for Yale Faculty in the Humanities

Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literature at Yale, on March 2 received a National Humanities Medal.

He has led four Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute seminars, in which New Haven teachers participated as Fellows and produced curriculum units such as this 1992 unit on "The Indians' Discovery of Columbus" by Christine Elmore (who in 2011 is participating as an Institute Fellow for the 14th time) and this 1986 unit on Shakespeare and ESOL instruction by Norine Polio, who like Christine Elmore has been a Fellow several times and continues to teach in the New Haven Public Schools.
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Paul H. Fry, William Lampson Professor of English at Yale, is among the recipients of the 2011 Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award (others include Rafe Esquith, whose example and belief that "there are no shortcuts" helped drive the founders of KIPP).  A recent article quotes several of Paul Fry's former students.

As Roberto González Echevarría is a former co-chair of the University Advisory Council on the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, Paul Fry is a current co-chair of that faculty council.  He, too, has led four New Haven Institute seminars. 

In addition, in 2011 Paul Fry is for the seventh consecutive year leading a national seminar through the Yale National Initiative to strengthen teaching in public schools.  Those seminars have ranged from "Children's Literature, Infancy to Adolescence" and detective fiction to poetry, "Connecting the Visual to the Verbal in the Classroom" and "Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare" as well as "Shakespeare and Human Character" – an array of topics through which teachers at various grade levels can develop their students’ pursuit of language and literature learning.

8:38 am edt 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seeking Understanding, to Prevent Violence

This week, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf visited Yale in an event sponsored by the organization Jews and Muslims at Yale.

Recently Yale faculty member Zareena Grewal wrote in the Christian Science Monitor about the context for the hearing that Congressman Peter King and the House homeland security committee conducted this month.

A September 11, 2010 post discussed related issues.

10:09 pm edt 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teaching, Learning, and Illustrating Math

Yesterday NPR featured a story on the teaching and learning of math, weeks after the New York Times ran a January 2011 article on creative math instruction and illustration.

An October 24, 2010 post to this blog addressed math instruction, in Singapore and the U.S., and work that Yale math professor Roger E. Howe has done.

Beyond the curricular resources referenced in that October 2010 post, an example of a Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute unit that might be of interest is one that middle-school math teacher Beth E. Klingher (inspired by Edward Tufte, among others, in a seminar that Yale School of Medicine faculty member William B. Stewart led) developed as an Institute Fellow in 2008.  Her unit concerns "the power of graphical display" – and how graphs may either inform or mislead.

6:28 am est 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Women's Health, Public Health, and Freedom

The approach on March 8 of International Women’s Day is a reminder of the important work, every day, of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.  Also worthy of support are the domestic affiliates, including Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, and efforts such as "Real Life. Real Talk" – which aims to reduce abortions and unwanted pregnancies through education of young men and women.  These organizations offer reproductive and other health services that benefit women, families, and communities around this country and the world.

7:51 am est 


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