I first came up with the idea for content links in 1989. I integrated the concept into a graduate course on curriculum I was teaching at the time. The students regarded the assignment as interesting and challenging, and so I integrated the assignment into a new course I was developing on teaching thinking skills. It proved to be a powerful tool for learning, as opposed to memorizing facts. Since then, more than a thousand graduate and undergraduate students have done the content link assignment. Over the years, it has changed, as hundreds of new terms were added and modifications made in the details of the presentation. The fundamental idea is unchanged.
Content links is based on the idea that ultimately all things are connected in more than one way and those ways can be understood, and by definition, described. It was obvious to me as a college professor, that the vast majority of my students could not describe in any meaningful way what the actual "things" are, much less describe how they might be connected. What appears below is the information I provided to my students to assist them in the assignment. If you want additional information about this idea and process, just send me some email.
In learning to be a teacher, you will come to appreciate that there is no substitute for understanding the content you will teach in more than one way. It is not an easy task, but it will pay handsome rewards as you gain experience and skill in teaching. Pedagogy is useless without subject-matter content. As a learning exercise, Content Links is about understanding items of subject matter content in more than one way, and often, students struggle with this. The Internet provides fertile ground for finding many of the terms, but not all of them; you'll still have to do some work, and mainly you'll have to think! It is the only way to create the connective possibilities. Listed below are clues for some of the assigned terms. These clues provide a gentle nudge, and can help you find more information about the terms, help you to compose a better story or poem, and make a better presentation to the class.
Chief Seattle, 1854
Some profound words about the place of man and nature in the scheme of things.
The following is an excerpt from a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay, from her 1934 collection, Huntsman, What Quarry?:
"Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Falls from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts...they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun, but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric...."
Think about what the loom might be...
Nellie Bly: She made it around the world in record time in the 19th Century.
Prestor John: Was he a myth or real? Some say he ruled a Christian kingdom beyond Ethiopia. You figure it out.
Xolani Nkosi: He died at 12 and became a world-wide symbol of the scourge of a horrible affliction.
Jeanette Rankin (1941): The lone dissenter for declaring war on Japan in December 1941. An interesting woman.
Elizabeth Jennings (1854): The first "Freedom Rider," she sued and won!
The Book of the Dun Cow: Also known as "Leabhar na Uidhre," it is a connection to very old Irish history and myth.
Cool Hand Luke: Though not a particularly large man, Luke is a war hero, excellent musician, sharp card player, extraordinary worker and incredible eater.
Blind Tom: Who was this person? He is described as a musical savant, and born as either Tom Wiggins or Blind Tom Bethune.
Robert Gould Shaw: Led an all-Black regiment to "Glory" in the assault on Ft. Wagner during the Civil War.
Ockham's Razor: From medieval times, a suggestion about keeping things simple. In Latin, "Enita non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem."
The Vitruvian Man: A famous drawing about human proportions by the great Leonardo (not DiCaprio).
John Hanning Speke: He beat Burton to the great prize of discovering the source of the longest river.
Clara Maass: A heroine, she lived to 25, and died from a mosquito bite.
Lucretia Mott (1848): One of the first to demand women's rights, long before they were finally realized in the 20th century.
"The Killer Angels": A Pulitzer Prize winning story about events in Pennsylvania from July 1 - 3, 1863. Who are The Killer Angels?
John "Black Jack" Kehoe: Leader of the "Molly Maguires." They were a group of 19th century coal miners of Irish ancestry.
Vercingetorix: Military leader of the Gauls. Challenged Caesar and lost his head (46 B.C.) Two years later, Caesar is dead.
The Ouroboros: A snake, an almost universal symbol of regeneration and rebirth.
Cetewayo: One of the great Zulu chiefs of the 1800s.
King Philip's War: His real name was Metacom and in the end, his head was displayed for 20 years.
Climb Niitakayama 1208: WWII - the final go ahead leading to "a day of infamy."
"On His Blindness": By Milton, it ends with, "They also serve who only stand and wait."
"The Demon Barber of Fleet Street": A nickname for Sweeney Todd.
Enigma and Ultra: A wartime secret code and its opposite.
Charles B. McVay III: He captained a ship that was sunk near the end of WWII. His story is compelling, and the inspiration for a high school student to convince Congress to clear his name.
Queen Hatshepsut: She became pharaoh upon the death of her husband and went so far as to wear men's clothing and a false beard.
John Frum: Since WWII, some South Pacific Islanders await his return, and his cargo.
Mnemosyne: A Greek Goddess, she was also the mother of the nine Muses.
Barbara McClintock: An award-winning scientist, known for "jumping genes" discovery.
"Pillars of Hercules": A place referred to by the Greeks, especially Homer.
Clytaemnestra: From Greek mythology, she stayed at home while Agamemnon was away.
Juan Fernandez: It's in the Pacific Ocean. Poor Selkirk spent time there all alone.
Benjamin Banneker: From colonial times, an accomplished Black who is connected to the layout of Washington DC, and who also carved wooden clocks.
Gavrilo Princip: He fired two shots on June 28, 1914 that eventually led to the deaths of over 22 million people.
Isandhlwana: The site of a crushing defeat of the British in South Africa.
Margaret Tobin Brown: Also known as the "Unsinkable Molly Brown."
Etzel: He led barbarians who sacked Rome in the 5th Century A.D.
Little Buttercup: A bumboat woman in a G. & S. operetta.
Anna Karenina: The name of a tragic character in a short novel by Tolstoy.
"Golden Helmet of Mambrino": An object in a story by Cervantes.
Matewan: West Virginia coal miners got a really raw deal here (1920s).
Harriet Tubman: She had something to do with an "Underground Railroad."
Diogenes: Spent a lot of time looking for an honest man - Greek mythology.
The Song of Wandering Aengus: From Irish folklore, as retold by Yeats.
Queequeg: Someone who served with Ahab aboard the Pequod.
Livia Drusilla: The scheming wife of a celebrated Roman emperor; the mother of Tiberius.
"The White Death": A nickname for a disease once all but eradicated, now making a comeback.
King Dingane: Became a Zulu king by killing his half brother Shaka.
Areopagitica: A poem by Milton; one of the first serious works about the dangers of censorship.
Sejanus: One of the most scheming of Romans -- he met with a bad end.
Temujin: Hmmm, maybe he (it is a he) has something to do with Ghengis Khan
H "Rap" Brown: Think 1960s. Think about the 1960s civil rights movement. Think SNCC.
Fur Elise: Beethoven composed this, but the name was mistranslated.
Sisyphus: The original (ancient) rock 'n roll guy. From mythology.
Quipu: Pronounced "Keepoo," this has something to do with the Incas.
Queen Aliquippa: A real mystery. A town in western Pennsylvania is named for her, but who was she? George Washington in 1753 might be helpful.
Xanadu: An unfinished poem by Coleridge, a magical, wondrous place.
Themis: "Oh no, not another Greek. Is there no justice in this assignment?"
Professor Moriarty: Holmes seemed to actually need him.
d'Artagnan: A famous swordsman in a novel by Alexander Dumas.
The "Half Moon": It's a ship, of course. Used by an explorer for whom the largest bay in North America is named.
Incitatus: "A horse is a horse, of course, of course." Find out about Caligula and you'll find the horse.
Caliban: A slave whose mother was a witch. Definitely not a "Tempest" in a teapot.
Oak Island (Canada): A mysterious place. Some say there's treasure buried there.
"Over There": A song written during WWI that spurred patriotism in the US.
Treaty of Tordesillas: It divided the "New World" between Spain and Portugal.
Giovanni Gentile: Find out about education in Italy during the time of Mussolini.
Quarks: The smallest of things, the name was mentioned in a book, set in Ireland, written by James Joyce.
Eddie Slovik: desertion, especially during an important battle in 1944, never pays.
"The National Razor": One could lose his head over this (1790).
M 31: Sounds like a machine gun, but no, it's in the sky and can be seen only at night.
St. Dymphna: An Irish girl who had the worst of fathers.
Kay Summersby: A WWII era person, she had something to do with General Eisenhower.
Ferdinand Demara: A real chameleon, almost the proverbial "doctor, lawyer, Indian chief."
Yggdrasil: A really, really big tree from Norse mythology.
The Somers Incident: Something to do with the establishment of the US Naval Academy.
Chance the Gardiner: One of Peter Seller's memorable screen characters, but based on a novel by Kosinski. (Also known as Chauncey Gardiner).
Ludwig II: Was he crazy, spending all that money on castles in Bavaria, and maybe liking Wagner a little too much?
"La Araucana": The epic poem of Chile; about the defeat of the indigenous peoples by the Spanish. Alonso de Ercilla y Z˙˝iga is the man.
Kon-Tiki: Did the Incas come from Polynesia, or was it the other way around?
Pazuzu: Not a punk rock band, but maybe some sort of devil; the southwest wind comes to mind.
Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable: Perhaps one of the most forgotten persons in the history of Chicago.
Lord Cornbury: A colonial governor who was also a cross-dresser?
Ishi: The last of his tribe, he lived in both the 19th and 20th centuries. California.
Sacajawea: Without her, Meriweather Lewis and William Clark would have had much more trouble exploring the northwest.
Iago: Pronounced "Yahgo," he is one of the most jealous characters in literature.
Didgeridoo: Something unique to Australia, also spelled "didgeridu."
John Hanson: Many say he was the first of these, under the Articles of Confederation.
Dido: She was, among other things, the mythical queen of an ancient city state on the northern coast of Africa.
Nabonidus of Babylon: A mad ruler who was reputed to have thought he was a goat and ate grass.
Captain Queeg: The tragic captain of a ship in a novel about WWII.
The "Ghost Dance": The belief that wearing a white shirt and performing a dance would stop the white man's bullets. Check out 1890.
Gunga Din: The most famous water-boy in literature. What British author wrote about India?
HMS Pinafore: A ship in a 19th century G&S operetta.
The list above represents a small number of assigned terms. The terms are simply information, the raw materials from which knowledge can be created, but they are not in themselves knowledge.
A shameless plug for my ebook "TheBucci Strain: Imprint." A warning: probably too intense for most education majors.
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