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Paolo Freire

NYT: First Days of School Through the Decades

First Days of School Through the Decades

From the photo archives of The New York Times, here is a decade-by-decade look at city schools and moments in their history. Students return to the classroom Wednesday.

Mercedes Sosa: Gracias A La Vida (2009)

Spanish: Gracias a la vida

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me dio dos luceros que cuando los abro
Perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco
Y en el alto cielo su fondo estrellado
Y en las multitudes el hombre que yo amo.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado el sonido y el abedecedario
Con él las palabras que pienso y declaro
Madre amigo hermano y luz alumbrando,
La ruta del alma del que estoy amando.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados
Con ellos anduve ciudades y charcos,
Playas y desiertos montañas y llanos
Y la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me dio el corazón que agita su marco
Cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano,
Cuando miro al bueno tan lejos del malo,
Cuando miro al fondo de tus ojos claros.

Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
Me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto,
Así yo distingo dicha de quebranto
Los dos materiales que forman mi canto
Y el canto de ustedes que es el mismo canto
Y el canto de todos que es mi propio canto.

Gracias a la vida
Gracias a la vida
Gracias a la vida
Gracias a la vida.

English: Thanks to Life

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me two beams of light, that when opened,
Can perfectly distinguish black from white
And in the sky above, her starry backdrop,
And from within the multitude The one that I love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me an ear that, in all of its width
Records— night and day—crickets and canaries,
Hammers and turbines and bricks and storms,
And the tender voice of my beloved.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me sound and the alphabet.
With them the words that I think and declare:
“Mother,” “Friend,” “Brother” and the light shining.
The route of the soul from which comes love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me the ability to walk with my tired feet.
With them I have traversed cities and puddles
Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains.
And your house, your street and your patio.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me a heart, that causes my frame to shudder,
When I see the fruit of the human brain,
When I see good so far from bad,
When I see within the clarity of your eyes…

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me laughter and it gave me longing.
With them I distinguish happiness and pain—
The two materials from which my songs are formed,
And your song, as well, which is the same song.
And everyone’s song, which is my very song.

Thanks to life
Thanks to life
Thanks to life
Thanks to life.

With Joan Baez, 2008.

Donald Trump Is Not a Populist. He’s the Voice of Aggrieved Privilege.

Rather than a populist, Trump is the voice of aggrieved privilege—of those who already are doing well but feel threatened by social change from below, whether in the form of Hispanic immigrants or uppity women (hence the loud applause he got at the first GOP debate when he derided “political correctness”). Far from being a defender of the little people against the elites, Trump plays to the anxiety of those who fear that their status is being challenged by people they regard as their social inferiors. That’s why the word “loser” is such a big part of his vocabulary.

Via New Republic.

One-star Yelp Reviews of National Parks

For the past several years, an experimental genre of creative nonfiction has been quietly thriving online: one-star Yelp reviews of national parks. Don’t let the unsophisticated and often ungrammatical prose fool you; these works have taken the pulse of America. Read on as our nation’s treasures and all manners of natural beauty are cast aside as garbage: Death Valley is “the ugliest place I have ever seen,” Yosemite needs more parking lots, and Carlsbad Caverns appeals only if “you find big caves and rocks overwhelmingly fascinating.”

Via the Paris Review.

Homeless students

CHE: How to Help the Students With No Homes?

During the school year, Ms. Banjo, who is 20, lives in the dorms at Norfolk State University. But on summer vacation and during other breaks, she has no set place to go. There’s no room for her in the rooming house where her parents live, so she crashes with friends or sublets space in a cramped apartment. Most days, her only meal is the sandwich and fries she gets during her shift at McDonald’s. She returns there on her days off just to have something to eat.

Ms. Banjo says she tries not to dwell on her status but “to put it in a box and act like a normal person.” She avoids calling her parents, because she doesn’t like to be reminded that they’re still struggling.

Taking My Parents to College

… and a week into classes, I received the topics for what would be my first college paper, in an English course on the modern novel. I might as well have been my non-English-speaking grandmother trying to read and understand them: The language felt that foreign. I called my mom at work and in tears told her that I had to come home, that I’d made a terrible mistake.

She sighed into the phone and said: “Just read me the first question. We’ll go through it a little at a time and figure it out.”

I read her the topic slowly, pausing after each sentence, waiting for her to say something. The first topic was two paragraphs long. I remember it had the word intersectionalities in it. And the word gendered. And maybe the phrase theoretical framework. I waited for her response and for the ways it would encourage me, for her to tell me I could do this, that I would eventually be the first in my family to graduate from college.

“You’re right,” she said after a moment. “You’re screwed.”

NYT/Jennine Capó Crucet: Taking My Parents to College

Maria Martha, Managua

The brain was not designed for reading.

Adapting to read

The brain was not designed for reading. There are no genes for reading like there are for language or vision. But spurred by the emergence of Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Phoenician alphabet, Chinese paper and, finally, the Gutenberg press, the brain has adapted to read.

Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on. Sure, there might be pictures mixed in with the text, but there didn’t tend to be many distractions. Reading in print even gave us a remarkable ability to remember where key information was in a book simply by the layout, researchers said. We’d know a protagonist died on the page with the two long paragraphs after the page with all that dialogue.

The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading, and it has been documented in academic studies. Some researchers believe that for many people, this style of reading is beginning to invade when dealing with other mediums as well.

“We’re spending so much time touching, pushing, linking, scroll­ing and jumping through text that when we sit down with a novel, your daily habits of jumping, clicking, linking is just ingrained in you,” said Andrew Dillon, a University of Texas professor who studies reading. “We’re in this new era of information behavior, and we’re beginning to see the consequences of that.”

Washington Post: Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say

Mercedes Sosa – Sólo le pido a Dios (with León Gieco)

Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 19, 1984

Sólo le pido a Dios

Sólo le pido a Dios
que el dolor no me sea indiferente,
que la reseca muerte no me encuentre
vacío y solo, sin haber hecho lo suficiente.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que lo injusto no me sea indiferente,
que no me abofeteen la otra mejilla,
después que una garra me arañó esta suerte.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que la guerra no me sea indiferente,
es un monstruo grande y pisa fuerte
toda la pobre inocencia de la gente.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que el engaño no me sea indiferente,
si un traidor puede más que unos cuantos,
que esos cuantos no lo olviden fácilmente.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que el futuro no me sea indiferente,
desahuciado está el que tiene que marchar
a vivir una cultura diferente.

Sólo le pido a Dios
que la guerra no me sea indiferente,
es un monstruo grande y pisa fuerte
toda la pobre inocencia de la gente.


I only ask of God
He won’t let me be indifferent to the suffering
That the very dried up death doesn’t find me
Empty and without having given my everything

I only ask of God
He won’t let me be indifferent to the wars
It is a big monster which treads hard
On the poor innocence of people
It is a big monster which treads hard
On the poor innocence of people People…people, people

I only ask of God
He won’t let me be indifferent to the injustice
That they do not slap my other cheek
After a claw has scratched my whole body

I only ask of God
He won’t let me be indifferent to the wars
It is a big monster which treads hard
On the poor innocence of people
It is a big monster which treads hard
On the poor innocence of people People…people…people

Morning commute

La Palma, Nicaragua

What is Interesting Writing in Art History?

Part of talking about writing in art history, theory, and criticism is therefore indulgence: writing is what people think about when they can, when they have leisure time, but it’s not a required subject. Another part of talking about writing is the plain style and its companions in classical rhetoric: direct speech, reasonably free of jargon, which pays attention to its argument. Both of these operate in university seminars, sometimes in succession, sometimes in opposition.

I have in mind both those ways of thinking about art historical writing, and two others. The third is a way of critiquing writing that pays attention the way one pays attention to a novel, a poem, or any other work of serious literature. This is close reading: attending to voice, pace, style, manner, word choice. Being patient and demanding about how the writing becomes expressive, how its message finds its form. Here I would want to apply the full arsenal of literary criticism from Empson to De Man, from Derrida to Perloff. This is an inherently unfair thing to do to writing that hasn’t been made for that kind of reading, but my criterion will always be that whatever is said about style, manner, and voice has to be connected to what the scholar meant to communicate. In other words: no carping about writing unless the writer’s choices have a nameable effect on what is being argued. In that way close reading, no matter how unusual it is in art history, is pertinent.

The fourth kind of reading is radical, and I will not be doing much of it, but it is presupposed in each of these three strategies. This is reading nonfiction as if it is fiction. It is probably not yet possible to do that with Krauss’s texts: they are still close to us in time, and their themes and dramatis personae are still largely our own. But a time will come, as it does for all writers, when Krauss’s concerns are more about her than about Picasso or Duchamp, and then her writing will exist as writing. Perhaps it is time to begin thinking about that possibility.

— James Elkins, What is Interesting Writing in Art History?

Little League All Star Game

Nicaragua All Stars vs. Managua All Stars, Nicaragua — Roberto Clemente Stadium.

Experimenting with TinType

Mérida, Nicaragua

Maderas Volcano

Noticia en el supermercado

Entre las verduras oigo sus discusiones:
Hablan del supervisor, reniegan de los turnos,
de si la fulanita no llegó a tiempo,
del mísero sueldo que para nada alcanza.

Hoy temprano hubo un accidente
en la carretera frente a mi casa.
Acababa de bajarse del bus una muchacha
y una camioneta la mató
cuando intentaba cruzarse al otro lado.
Un gentío rodeaba su cadáver
y algunos comentaban conmovidos
que no parecía tener más de dieciocho años.

De repente cesa la habladera.
Alguien dio la noticia
que se regó como un temblor oscuro y sordo
por el supermercado.

¿Cómo decirle a doña Mariana que su única hija
que tanto le costó,
que apenas iba a matricularse en la universidad,
y se despidió tan contenta esta mañana,
yace en media carretera con el cráneo destrozado
mientras ella despacha muy amable la carne a los clientes?

English version

“News in the Supermarket”

I hear them gossiping among the vegetables:
they are talking about their supervisor,
grumbling about their shifts, so and so was late
and their rotten wages that don’t go anywhere.

Early this morning there was an accident
on the road in front of my house.
A girl stepped off the bus
and a lorry killed her
as she was trying to cross to the other side.
A crowd gathered round her body
and some remarked painfully
that she seemed no more than eighteen.

Suddenly the gossip stops.
Someone has brought the news
which runs through the supermarket
like a muffled tremor.

How to tell Doña Mariana that her only daughter
for whom she has struggled so hard,
who was just about to start at university,
who was so happy when she said goodbye that morning,
is lying in the middle of the road with a smashed skull
while she is amiably serving customers with meat.

— Daisy Zamora


Layla & Concepción Volcano

WRD Awards Party

Emma K.’s writing award:

Best Undergraduate Project in Professional, Technical, or Digital Writing

“The University and Student Relationship: An Analysis of DePaul and its Students Through Digital Everyday Texts” by Emma Kolander

Accumulation (Brandt) and Acceleration (Keller)

Acceleration occurs in two related ways. First, in the smaller sense, literacy technologies and practices tend toward speed. That is, they aim to achieve some end faster. Second, in the large sense, literacies can accelerate: appearing, changing, merging with other literacies, or fading at a faster rate. For instances of literacies appearing, one must only think of the fact that MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter all arrived within a three-year span, 2003–2006, and quickly became popular literacy practices. A form of literacy can rise to importance and fall out of practice in a short amount of time.

For instance, knowing how to use hypertext markup language (HTML code) was an important aspect of electronic literacy in the 1990s, but is now fading. Some teachers may recall developing pedagogies around multiuser domains (MUDs), Second Life, and MySpace; these, too, have largely faded. An established form of literacy may remain but in an altered form. E-mail was a dominant form of electronic communication in various life domains, but has lost most of its social use to Facebook and texting, leaving it to fulfill the more formal communication needs of business and education. As literacies remain, they change: web browsers have moved from multiple windows to multiple tabs for multitasking purposes and continuously offer extensions to control more of the online experience; Facebook continues to update its functions and appearance; and cell phones have added keyboards for faster texting, application software (apps) for specific tasks, and speech recognition and activation software (e.g., Siri for the iPhone).

A significant effect of accumulation and acceleration is that what counts as effective reading and writing becomes a moving target—over time and from context to context. People in various situations must keep up with the latest changes, whether they involve using Facebook for social purposes, employing social media for workplace goals, or learning the latest course management software. Literacies are increasingly tied to contexts that value and reinforce speed and brevity. Much has been written to disparage “fast literacies” such as text messaging and multitasking, with the implied or openly stated conclusion that education should provide a bulwark against these anti-intellectual practices (Carr 2010; Edmundson 2004; Faigley 2006). I respond to some of these criticisms throughout the book and articulate a nuanced, productive relationship between “slower” and “faster” forms of literacy. If we take accumulation and acceleration as defining features of contemporary literacy, then a goal for educators should include helping students gain versatile, dexterous approaches to both reading and writing so they are prepared to navigate a wide range of ever-changing literacy contexts.

From Chasing Literacy: Reading and Writing in an Age of Acceleration 

Every classroom.

Every classroom is an act of making citizens in the realm of that room, and every room is a figure for the larger community. ~ A. Bartlett Giamatti, “To Make Oneself Eternal,” from A Free and Ordered Space.


Three gatekeepers

Cormorant, Belmont Seawall

Purdue workshop

I gave a workshop at Purdue-Calumet on teaching with the New York Times.