Friday, September 27, 2013

Group 301-401 (evening): Connected but alone?

Here are the questions I gave you last Wednesday as the basis for our discussion of Sherry Turkle's lecture, "Connected, but alone?"


Next week, we'll look at some parts of Arakin in connection with children's upbringing. Please review

... "basic principles," page 124
... "Parents Are Too Permissive," page 126
... Exercise 6, solutions to problems, p. 128

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Groups 201-204 Homework: Letter to your hostess in England, Mrs. Sampson

You have 20 minutes to do this task. Please write on a separate piece of paper to give me, in case we don't have time to read our letters in class.

Task: You have received a letter from the mother of an English host family you have just stayed with while doing a summer English course. Mrs. Sampson writes:
... We all really enjoyed having you stay with us. How was your journey back home? Do you feel that you improved your English as much as you had hoped? What did you enjoy most about your stay in England?
As for our latest news, we’ve just bought a puppy....
Tim Lloyd; source.
Write a letter of about 100-140 words. Observe the rules of good letter-writing. Answer Mrs. Sampson’s questions and ask three questions about the new dog.

Bring to class next week. (If you have not written to David about school, or your essay about the Internet as a source of information, don't forget to bring those, too!)

Exercise from Olga Afanasyeva, Virginia Evans, Victoria Kopylova, Practice Exam Papers for the Russian State Exam, 2010 Revised Edition, Moscow: Express Publishing/Prosveshchenie Publishers.

Remember the "rules of good letter-writing"... These rules refer to the format expected in the Unified State Exam:

  1. First line, upper right corner: address (city and country are enough).
  2. Second line, upper right corner: date (more about this below).
  3. Salutation: ("Dear Frank,"; "Dear Mrs. Sampson,"; "My darling wife,"; "Sweetie Pie!").
  4. Intro: an expression of thanks for last letter, of regret for taking such a long time to reply; etc. One or two sentences. ("Thanks so much for your wonderful letter! I'm sorry I took so long to answer, but I had to study for two tests.")
  5. Body: This is the main part of the letter. Respond to the assignment. Usually this means answering the questions in the letter you have "received" and asking questions as directed by the assignment.
  6. Outro: In this last sentence or two, you may ask your correspondent to write again soon or to send you something, or you may explain that you must end the letter now because of another obligation. ("Write again soon--and don't forget to send me pictures from the concert! I have to end my letter here--my mother wants me to help wash the dishes.")
  7. Complimentary close: This word or phrase can be formal ("Yours truly,"), less formal ("Sincerely,"), informal "Best regards," or "All the best!"), or even warmer ("Love," or "Hugs and kisses,").
  8. Signature.

You may use the British convention:
21 September 2011 (note: no comma)
21 Sept. 2011
21st September 2011
21st Sept. 2011
... or the American convention:
September 21, 2011
Sept. 21, 2011
But don't use numbers for the month. 21.09.2011 (European) or 9/21/2011 (American).

Length of letters on the Unified State Exam: 100-140 words. Don't write fewer than 90 words or more than 154!

For a chart showing the placement of various elements of the letter, go back to this post.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Kills, "You Don't Own the Road"

The Kills are American singer Alison Mosshart and British guitarist Jamie Hince. This song is from their most recent album, Blood Pressures.

"You Don’t Own the Road" Alison Mosshart, Jamie Hince (performed by The Kills)

You don’t own the road boy
Better kick up a storm
You don’t own the big city lights
Better cop out your own

You don’t own the green pines,
The blue sky, or the smoke
You don’t own the dust in your
Big brown eyes when you keep them closed

Yeah, steal them back for me love
Oh yeah, steal them back for me love, oh yeah

You don’t own the road boy
And neither do I
You don’t own the big city lights
That make my eyes cry

You don’t own the green pines
So be careful where you lean
And when you’re lost under the blue sky
Look down and you’ll find me

Yeah, steal it back for me love
Oh yeah steal it back for me love, oh yeah

Come on over
If that’s the way you feel
When you’re lonesome steal it
Back when you’re lonely
Back when you’re lonely, back

You don’t own the sadness son
See the tide just comes in
Guilt is played on the violin
By those who never cared to sing

Yeah, steal it back for me love
Oh yeah, steal it back for me love, back for me love
Oh yeah, steal it back for me love, back for me love
Oh yeah, steal it back for me love, back for me love
Back for me love
Back for me love

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sir Ken Robinson, "Schools Kill Creativity" and "Changing Educational Paradigms"

The 301-401V class saw these videos today. I may show one or both of them to the 501 group later this year.

First, Sir Ken Robinson, "Schools Kill Creativity," then "Changing Educational Paradigms." Discussion questions for both videos are further down the page.

Much food for thought!

"Schools Kill Creativity" discussion
"Changing Education Paradigms" discussion questions:
  1. According to Ken Robinson, if you are at a dinner party and you say you work in education, why does the blood run from the faces of the others at the party? Why do they say, "Oh my God, why me? My one night out all week..."?
  2. Ken says, "But if you ask about their education, they pin you to the wall." What does he mean? And why do they do this?
  3. Who do you think Sirena is?
  4. How important is creativity, according to Robinson? In the context of education, it's as important as what?
  5. Ken told the story of the six-year-old girl drawing God. Why was the story funny? Why was it interesting?
  6. What must you be prepared for if you hope to do anything original? Do you agree with Ken Robinson? 
  7. Robinson says, "As children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side." Explain what he means, or give an example.
  8. Where do university professors live, according to Robinson?
  9. In most countries, the educational system was designed to serve what sector or what priority?
  10. In terms of brain structure, what is Robinson's theory explaining why women are better at multitasking? 
  11. How was Gillian Lynne's talent discovered? If she had not met that insightful doctor, what might have been her future, according to Robinson?
  12. Thinking about our own children, what is our educational task?
  1. What are the two reasons that “every country in the world” is reforming education?
  2. What “circle” are these countries trying to “square”?
  3. What was the story that kept us in school?
  4. The current system of education was created in the intellectual context of the ___ and the economic conditions of the ____.
  5. Why did some people object to the “revolutionary” idea of public education?
  6. What is Ken Robinson's objection to the idea that there is an “epidemic” of attention deficit disorder?
  7. Is there a geographic equivalent in Russia to compare with the USA's eastward trend in the frequency of ADHD diagnoses?
  8. Why is it unfair to punish children for being easily distracted in this current time period?
  9. How has industrialization affected the traditional model of education? Give some examples.
  10. What are some of the differences between children that are not provided for in the “batch” method of organizing education?
  11. What is the relationship between “creativity” and “divergent thinking”?
  12. What is the effect of education on the percentage of divergent-thinking “geniuses” as children get older? (Note: the animation doesn't show the scores of the second and third group, 32% and 10%, nor of the adults he mentioned in the original lecture: people who were 25 years old or older scored at a percentage of 2%.)

The animation ends rather abruptly with Robinson's talking about the need to transform the “habits of our institutions and the habitats they occupy.” In the original lecture, he goes on to urge a change in metaphor: from industry to agriculture.

Groups 201-204 Homework: The Internet as a source of information

This homework task (C2) is our first assignment under the "Essay" section of the unified state exam. Note the "Useful Phrases for Essays" entry on this blog for help and inspiration. We will survey your opinion and those of others in the class when we meet to review this homework next week.

You should take about forty minutes to do this assignment. Please write it on a page that you can give me.

Exercise from Olga Afanasyeva, Virginia Evans, Victoria Kopylova, Practice Exam Papers for the Russian State Exam, 2010 Revised Edition, Moscow: Express Publishing/Prosveshchenie Publishers.
Cartoon from

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Group 301-401V: "The Art of Russia"

On Wednesday, September 4, we began watching this documentary from the BBC, and answering the questions below. We finished today (Wednesday 11th).

  1. What can the story of Russian art help explain, according to Andrew Graham-Dixon?
  2. Which galleries at the State Historical museum are rarely visited?
  3. How old is «this wonderful boat»?
  4. Why was turning «all of this into one nation» so challenging?
  5. If Moscow is the «heart of Russia», what are St Petersburg and Kiev?
  6. Christ Pantokrator's «entourage» consists of whom or what?
  7. In designing Kiev's first cathedral, what effect were the architects and designers trying to achieve?
  8. Why is Mary carrying a handkerchief?
  9. What is the «Christian mystery» expressed in the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir?
  10. What did the developers of the Cyrillic script add to the Greek alphabet?
  11. Why did the Mongols seek to isolate Russia?
  12. What was Graham-Dixon's first impression inside Malye Kareli's church?
  13. What feature reminds him of a hearth?
  14. How do the colors of the St Sergius icons compare with Byzantine icons?
  15. What transforms the art during the mass?
  16. What is remarkable about Victor Bondarenko?
  17. How did the Communists show their respect for the power of the icon?
  18. What did Graham-Dixon mean when he said that Ivan IV was «hardly a model Christian»?
  19. What was Ivan IV's innovation in the «Church Militant» icon?
  20. The artist depicting the Last Judgment in Ivan IV's chapel «really pulled out the stops.» What did Graham-Dixon mean?
  21. What example of a lubok turning «the world upside-down» do we see?
  22. Peter I «could hardly have chosen a less promising place» for his new capital. What is Graham-Dixon referring to?
  23. What are some of the new influences that came to Russia with Peter's acquisition of Rembrandt's «Jonathan and David»? 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Delta Moon, "Tilt-a-Whirl"


Delta Moon said farewell to their wonderful female singer Gina Leigh a few years ago, so the version of "Tilt-a-Whirl" in the video below is quite different from what I played in class. But the excellent musicianship is still there.

First, the version I played in class:

The words:

Tilt-A-Whirl, Tom Gray, Gina Leigh

Well, when I was young I had a mind to roam,
[The] little old town that I used to call home
Didn't have a whole lot of charm for a girl,
So I took up with a carny on the Tilt-A-Whirl

(chorus) Tilt-A-Whirl Tilt-A-Whirl
It'll wind you up, it'll wear you down,
Turn your world around and round, Tilt-A-Whirl

Well, I fell hard for the carnival life,
Smell of Diesel and the neon lights,
The feel of the sawdust under my feet,
And the carnies barking to a rock and roll beat, Tilt-A-Whirl

Well, he spun me around and he flung me aside,
Turns out I'd gotten taken for a ride,
Then he took up with the vampire girl,
And now she's riding on the Tilt-A-Whirl


(performed by Delta Moon; Gina Leigh, vocal)

The newer version (video):

Monday, September 9, 2013

School 200-level Homework: Letter to David

Your first homework of the year is a letter about schools and sports.


Please bring your letter with you when you come to class next week (September 18 or 19). We will read our letters and review the rules of letter-writing.

Exercise from Olga Afanasyeva, Virginia Evans, Victoria Kopylova, Practice Exam Papers for the Russian State Exam, 2010 Revised Edition, Moscow: Express Publishing/Prosveshchenie Publishers.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"In a Town This Size"

(link to purchase this MP3 file) (unavailable)

"In a Town This Size," Kieran Kane (performed by Charlie Musselwhite with Kelly Willis)

In a town this size, there’s no place to hide
Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know
You can’t steal a kiss in a place like this
How the rumors would fly in a town this size.

In a smoky bar, in the back seat of a car,
In your own little house, someone’s sure to find you out,
What you do and what you think, what you eat and what you drink,
If you smoke a cigarette, they'll be talking about your breath

In a town this size, there’s no place to hide
Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know
You can’t steal a kiss in a place like this
How the rumors would fly in a town this size.

(Charlie’s harp)

Oh, I had a fight with my girlfriend last night,
Before the moon went down, it was all over town
How I made him cry, how I said goodbye,
If it’s true or not, it don’t count a lot

In a town this size, there’s no place to hide
Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know
You can’t steal a kiss in a place like this
How the rumors would fly in a town this size. In a town this size. In a town this size.

If you like Charlie Musselwhite, here's a slow blues.... See if you can follow his words:

The first few lines, to get you started:
Just a feeling, [a] feeling I had on my mind.
Just a feeling, [a] feeling I had on my mind.
[I] Lay down dreaming, woke up this morning screaming and crying.