In So Many Words: Building Blocks

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!

Building Blocks, A Comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros
Building Blocks Page Two, A Comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros

Text only version

Building Blocks

The major institutions of Academia are called “schools.” Their primary activity derives from the Greek skhole, “lecture, or discussion.” These roots also convey a sense of “leisure,” or “spare time,” the conditions under which learning might best take place.

This offers a clue as to their actual mandate — the need to provide a context for relaxed study, one that promotes the free play of ideas, and generates an interest in the arts and sciences. Alas, such matters are now considered academic in the narrowest sense, “dated and no longer relevant.”

There appears instead to be schemes afoot to undermine that meaning. These schemes were hatched by Skhole which was also originally a “holding back,” a “keeping clear” from skhein, “to get,” from a Proto-Indo-European root segh, “to hold in one’s power,” steps which were necessary to achieve “victory” in wartime.

This would explain the schemes our schools today tend to fall back on, such as grill and drillrote learning and test preparation — all expressions of power in their battle to vanquish ignorance. What is rote in the educational process derives from the Old French rote, from which we get our route, leading us to travel the same road over and over again; though there’s also the Latin rota, “wheel,” for going round and round.

Concerning “drill,” educators tend to confuse drilling, the relentless and repetitive nature of the tool with training or instilling what is to be learned and for later boring into students for answers, as if one were drilling into their head.

“Grill,” it of course, originally meant to broil something on a grill or griddle, as is done regularly at backyard barbecues across America. Its meaning was easily extended by likening the poor soul being questioned by the police to a helpless rib-steak sizzling over coals. It was then but a short leap from. “Where were you on the night of September 27th?” to, “Recite the quadratic formula.” All these schemes are quite elaborative and well thought out. They should all work well, providing, of course, that the metal detectors are functioning properly. And that is anything but an academic matter.


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.

In So Many Words: Measuring Up

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!

Measuring Up, A Comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros

Text only version

Measuring Up

Man overboard! When it comes to formal schooling, many are in over their head. And there’s nary a savior in sight.

Navigating academic waters requires scholarship, but, alas, there’s no real “ship” in scholarship, only the suffix meaning “condition” or “skill”.

We measure scholarship not by knots, but by grades. They are what enables a student to monitor his or her progress, from the Latin gradire, gress– “to step,” and pro, “forward,” following him closely, step by step, as he moves gradually up through the grades. This shows him how many steps he has fallen behind or raced ahead of the others. We also know them as marks — from the Old English mearc, “boundary”-a convenient way of setting young people off from the one another, as well as teaching them their limits.

Marks unfortunately also create stigmas, from those used by the Ancient Greeks to brand their slaves. The Romans took things a step further, using them to figuratively mark the disgrace caused by dishonorable conduct.

Today, we no longer employ branding irons, favoring instead computerized files and designations such as, “drop-out,” and “difficult to work with.” Of course, there’s always the “F ” for “Failure” to fall back on.

All this is not insignificant. The Latin, signum, “mark,” and facere, “to make,” gave us a sign how “important and full of meaning,” this all is, establishing the belief that what is significant in scholarship is primarily high marks.

Could it be, however, that what is significant is not the marks assigned by teachers but those made by the students themselves in laying out their future path — marks that are not made by anyone else but are those of their own design?


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.

In So Many Words: Structured Learning

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!

Structured Learning, A Comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros

Text only version

Structured Learning

Current educational theory holds that students achieve their best when under intense academic pressure. And there’s no better way to increase that pressure than by increasing the load they carry, with the Latin struere, “to pile things.” Taking their cue both from the roots of their profession (adding the prefix, in) and from official directives — instructors tend to “pile things,” “on,” their students — one after another (believing that to be their mandate).

This piling on is not meant to be indiscriminate. Hopes are that by joining their efforts with the prefix con, “with,” that it will be done with a guiding principle in mind, rendering the entire process constructive — culminating in structured learning.

Critics, however, consider the entire approach “destructive,” (“a pile away from”) and obstructive (“a pile in the way of”) real learning, if you construe what I mean. As an educated person, you should be able to put those pieces together properly.

If all of schooling is ultimately reduced to nothing more than a pile, how can we hope to instill in students a proper attitude towards learning? Could “pouring it on,” be the way to go? Noted educator Paolo Freire called it “jug to mug education,” whereby the teacher pours from his jug to the student’s mug. Come examination time, the student returns the favor.

Instill originates with the Latin stilla, “a drop,” giving us the verb stillare “to drop” and the derivative compound instillare, “to pour in drop by drop.” The process as described is anything but a “pouring on.”

Could that possibly be the best way to approach teaching — drop by drop, gradually imparting qualities of heart and mind to students? Rather than inundating them with data or piling it on, could that be the truly instructive way to go?

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.

In So Many Words: Spare the Rod

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!

Spare the Rod, A Comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros

Text only version

Spare the Rod

Eyes to the front! You there in the back — sit down!

Discipline is the cornerstone of the educational process. It originated with the Latin praecipere, praecept, “to take before.” Thus were created the precepts, i.e. those teachings placed “before” or “in front of” students.

Disciplina was instruction emphasizing the practice necessary to fully grasp those precepts. And there was no better group to spread them, dis, “around” — than a group of disciples.

According to the disciples of discipline, it’s still the purpose of discipline — to create the proper context for dealing with the disciplines or “major areas of knowledge.” We know it and welcome it today as the “maintenance of order.”

In the 1970s we “welcomed” back Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) to his old alma mater, via national TV, as teacher of the undisciplined “sweat-hogs,” a group of hopeless underachievers who personified for many what urban students were like.

This public’s perception of students as animals then contributed to the hue and cry for even more classroom discipline.

Unfortunately, the discipline required to train them derives from the Latin trahere, tract-, “to draw,” or “pull along.”

Educating them comes from the Latin ex, “out” and ducere, “to lead” — a real education being the process that draws out those talents already within. Anything less would be a real drag, man.

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.

In So Many Words: Out on a Limb

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!

out on a limb-comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros

Text only version

Out on a Limb

The tree of knowledge has many branches. And if we can believe Alexander Pope, “…As the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.”

It all began with a few seeds from the Latin semen, seminis. This gave Romans the seminarium — initially “a nursery for plants,” later, “a place for raising and training the young,” and the source of our seminars and seminaries. Many consider these settings to be seminal, “highly original and influential of future developments.” Others contend they are simply places where seeds are planted in the minds of the young.

Propaganda is similar, deriving from the Latin propago, “a slip or shoot for transplanting.” Originally, a botanist’s term for multiplying plants by taking slips, it came to mean the propagation of ideas, spread by the transplantation of brain-shoots.

“Crude, rude, and socially unattractive?” Nothing a little learning can’t cure. Take the Latin, e, “from,” combine it with rudis,”rude” and you become “one freed from rudeness.” Erudite, originally referred to the pruning of trees, lopping off dead or asymmetrical branches, the first attempts being the rudiments. A good education lops off the deadwood, leaving the erudite, those of us with no rough edges — as witness the humble, self-effacing nature of the erudite scholars at our universities.


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.

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.