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Showing posts with the label H.G. Wells

How Many Americans Think Planet Earth Is 6000 Years Old?

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A Short History of the WorldMost people these days think of H.G. Wells as a science-fiction writer, in fact as one of the pillars of the genre together with Jules Verne, but his best selling, most popular work in his lifetime was A Short History of the World which he wrote in 1922.  In the opening paragraph of this brilliant and monumental work, Wells writes:

A couple of hundred years ago men possessed the history of little more than the last three thousand years.  What happened before that time was a matter of legend and speculation.  Over a large part of the civilized world it was believed and taught that the world had been created suddenly in 4004 B.C though authorities differed as to whether this had occurred in the spring or the autumn of that year.  This fantastically precise misconception was based  upon a too literal interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, and upon rather arbitrary theological assumptions connected therewith.  Such ideas have long since been abandoned by religious …

Do No Harm Part III: Don’t Joke about the Bible

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Do Not presumeI hope I have made it clear that I have not lived up to my own recommendation that teachers should avoid irony.The best I have been able to do, and I suspect this will be true for most teachers, is to be careful and to be wary of the pitfalls of irony.In recent years I saw a dramatic increase in the multicultural mix in my classes:students from Africa, the Caribbean, the former Yugoslavia, Iran, China, Japan and various Arab countries.Over the years, I had learned from lecturing on feminism and what used to be called “women’s liberation” not to presume to know what individual women want or, worse still, should want.Even though, I was supposed to be the expert on “culture” and “intercultural communication,” I think I knew enough not to presume that I understood my students' lives, and to recognize that I had a lot to learn from them.In general, I was in awe of their openness and resilience.H.G. Wells’ short story “The Country of the Blind” provided a perfect framework…