In So Many Words: The Core Curriculum

Sometimes I like to step back from blogs about educational reform and schooling for democracy to indulge in my other love: word origins. Words have always been special to me, even as a child. Early on, I attributed magical qualities to them, believing that locked within were mysterious insights which could help guide me through life.

What you are about to read is a work of etymology from a comic series I wrote in a previous life called, In So Many Words.

Call it just so much bunk, gibberish, babble, and hokum — but do enjoy!

THe Core Curriculum, A Comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros

Text only version

The Core Curriculum

Our schools are populated by students who are eager to learn. They have a voracious appetite for ideas and bring passion and energy to the learning process. The ideal student mindset is captured perfectly in the Latin studere, “to be zealous or eager.”

Students are also passive beings — sitting quietly, absorbing what is passed on to them, and conveying it back verbatim, never once flagging under the demands made of them. The ability to see eye to eye on this with their teacher is what makes them “good” pupils.

Pupus derives from the Latin for “boy,” pupa, for a “girl” Adding the diminutive ending illus(a), resulted in a “little boy” or “little girl.” When it came to naming the black circular aperture in the center of the eye, the Romans called it pupillam, because the tiny image reflected in it made you look like — you guessed it — a young child.

In Old English, the pupil of the eye was called the “apple” because it was thought to be a solid spherical body. The teacher’s wish to see himself and his values reflected in his students transformed the most zealous or eager into the apple of their teacher’s eye. You see, this also made for bad apples and those at the bottom of the barrel….How do you like them apples?

You can find more comics by following this link to In So Many Words.

Published by Kvetch Press, a Division of Neurobics, Inc.

Author Larry Paros

Illustrations by Sam Zaninovich

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced — mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system — without written permission from the publisher.

All violators will be towed or forced to repeat sixth grade.


Larry Paros has worked in the field of Education and Human services for more than 30 years both as a teacher and administrator. A pioneer in the creation of alternative settings, he is best known for his work with young people from varied ethnic and racial backgrounds in contexts of his own making. His book, Dancing on the Contradictions: Transforming our Schools, our Students, and Ourselves, will be available in September of 2019.

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