In Contrast In the Classroom

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Click on the titles below for classroom questions below.

Episode #1: Where Do Words Come From?—Peter Sokolowski

  1. Who decides when a new word should become part of a standardized language?
  2. Do all languages have the same number of words?
  3. By what mechanism is the spelling of a word accepted?

Episode #2: Living Theater—Stacy Klein

  1. What are the challenges of producing theater today that isn’t commercially driven?
  2. How can rural areas benefit from housing a theater troupe?
  3. Why are women theater directors still underrepresented?

Episode #3: Are Translators Traitors?—Tim Parks

  1. Can translations be simultaneously fateful and beautiful?
  2. What is the difference between translating a classic and a contemporary book?
  3. Why do publishers continue to underpay translators?

Episode #4: A Poet of Change—Wendy Barker

  1. What role does silence play in poetry?
  2. How does a poem take shape?
  3. Are poets agents of change? What kind of change?

Episode #5: Children Are Illogical—Norton Juster

  1. How can an author write for children without being condescending?
  2. Are children rational?
  3. Can ADD be an advantage for a children’s author?

Episode #6: How Tragedy Is Remembered—James Young

  1. Is forgetting as important as remembering?
  2. Are there drawbacks in building museums and monuments around tragedies?
  3. Is there a difference between personal tragedy and collective tragedy?

Episode #7: Illustrating the Classics—Barry Moser

  1. What do we mean when we say that a book has become a classic?
  2. Does the work done by illustrators similar to the one done by translators?
  3. Do you need to be an avid reader to become an illustrator of literary classics?

Episode #8: An Immigrant’s Story—Edwin Cruz

  1. Are immigrants treated differently depending on where they come from?
  2. In spite of its immigrant past, is America always ambivalent about newcomers?
  3. Does Emma Lazarus’ sonnet “The New Colossus” still resonate today?

Episode #9: Financial Literacy for Children of Color—Ty Jackson

  1. Why is money not a topic in the elementary-school classroom?
  2. Do children of different cultures understand money differently?
  3. Does upward mobility depend on openness about financial matters in families?

Episode #10: Why ‘Black Lives Matter’ Matters—Wesley Lowery

  1. In what way is ‘Black Lives Matter’ an outcome of the Civil Rights Movement?
  2. What kind of impact will it have in future generations?
  3. Will America ever reach a state of racial equality?

Episode #11: A Conservative in the Age of Trump—Bret Stephens

  1. In what way do political parties foster consent among their members?
  2. Is disagreement in politics a sign of unrest?
  3. How has conservativism changed since the Reagan years?

Episode #12: A Foreign Correspondent in Action—Robin Wright

  1. Is a foreign correspondent a witness?
  2. What dis the difference between reporting on national issues and on world affairs?
  3. Does the reporter’s gender matter?

Episode #13: Democracy in America—William Kristol

  1. Can democracy truly be representative?
  2. Is a political commentator ever objective? Should they be?
  3. What is the role of dissent in democracy?

Episode #14: “Representing” in Broadcasting: Ray Suarez

  1. Is ethnicity a factor in the way the news is delivered?
  2. Have accents become more acceptable in broadcasting?
  3. What is the challenges of minority journalist in today’s American media?

Episode #15: Fighting Cancer Through Knowledge—Peter Rooney

  1. Does suffering imperil reason?
  2. Should doctors and patients develop friendships?
  3. Can knowledge be a cure for illness?

Episode #16: A Rabbi in Search of God—Justin David

  1. In what way is God hidden?
  2. Do religious leaders be kept to a higher moral standard?
  3. To what extent is doubt an important part of faith?

Episode #17: Zapotec Poetry and the Language of Radio

  1. How do you define “endangered language”?
  2. Do these endangered languages deserve special treatment?
  3. In what way can the media be involved in improving their prospects?

Episode #18: In Search of Gorbachev—William Taubman

  1. Is a political leader born or made?
  2. Do different cultures have different approaches to leadership?
  3. How should a leader approach doubt?

Episode #19: Drawing and Thinking—Mo Willems

  1. How do we learn how to think?
  2. In what way are ideas the result of visual stimulation?
  3. To what degree should improvisation be a component of children’s education?

Episode #20: Russia Today—Masha Gessen

  1. In what way the East/West polarity real?
  2. Why does America have billionaires but Russia has oligarchs?
  3. Is it possible to restrain foreign influence from national elections?

Episode #21: The Artist of Hair—Sonya Clark

  1. Is art always about identity?
  2. In what way do our own ancestors coexist with us in our own body?
  3. In what way do artist of color face challenges of controlling their own narrative?

Episode #22: The Dream of Assimilation?—Min Jin Lee

  1. In what way do immigrants change America and American changes immigrants?
  2. How does the English language reflect these changes?
  3. Is the American Dream alive in the age of Donald Trump?

Episode #23: Israel’s Targeted Assassinations—Ronen Bergman

  1. When is revenge permissible?
  2. Does the rule “Eye for an Eye” apply to nations?
  3. Are targeted assassinations immoral?

Episode #24: The End of Representation—Junot Díaz

  1. Are writers of color held to different aesthetic and moral standards?
  2. Does writers of color have the obligation to be political?
  3. Is literature an equal-opportunity field?

Episode #25: Medicine & Poetry—Rafael Campo

  1. Can poetry heal?
  2. Has the medical profession forgotten how to deal with humans?
  3. How do we talk about illness?

Episode #26: The Endurance of the Uncanny—Carmen María Machado

  1. Are fiction and nonfiction antithetical?
  2. Is it possible to talk about dreams without betraying their ephemerality?
  3. Why does the uncanny generated anxiety in us?

Episode #27: Mourning with Words—Forrest Gander

  1. Is poetry a form of therapy?
  2. Are the words to describe death or is it beyond language?
  3. How do different cultures handle mourning?

Episode #28: Our Face, Our Self—Ruth Ozeki

  1. Is our face an expression of our personality?
  2. Do faces lie?
  3. How are faces in a multiethnic society read?

Episode #29: Exploring the Ramayana—Arshia Sattar

  1. Why do the classics matter?
  2. Does each civilization have different classics?
  3. Are classics perfect?

Episode #30: Why Poetry—Matthew Zapruder

  1. Is poetry necessary?
  2. Are poets born or made?
  3. Is poetry always political?

Episode #31: All News Is Local—Brooke Hauser

  1. Is poetry necessary?
  2. Are poets born or made?
  3. Is poetry always political?

Episode #32: The Opinion Battle—George Will

  1. Should opinions be silenced?
  2. Should people change their mind?
  3. Are opinions improvable?

Episode #33: The Global City—Saskia Sassen

  1. Are global cities cruel?
  2. Who is visible and invisible in the global city?
  3. How do cities become global?

Episode #34: Globalization and Its Discontents—Joseph Stiglitz

  1. Is globalization dangerous?
  2. Is it natural?
  3. Should it be contained?

Episode #35: Development as Freedom—Amartya Sen

  1. Are the poor less free than the rich?
  2. Should education be made free?
  3. Do development nations need to be helped?

Episode #36: The Culture of Music—Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider

  1. Does music have an address?
  2. In what way does music create community?
  3. Is the musician a storyteller?

Episode #37: The Power of Voice—Stephanie Houtzeel & John Milbauer

  1. In what way is the human voice powerful?
  2. Is voice another musical instrument?
  3. How does our voice change as we mature?

Episode #38: The Truth of Fiction—Andre Dubus III

  1. Is the truth of the fiction writer the same as the truth of the historian?
  2. Can a novel lie?
  3. Does fiction have a responsibility?

Episode #39: The Realm of Emotions—Martha Nussbaum

  1. How many emotions are there?
  2. Are emotions dangerous?
  3. How do men and women engage with their emotions?

Episode #40: The Music of Epirus and the Collector’s Obsession—Christopher King

  1. What drives us to collect items?
  2. Are objects of the past memory capsules?
  3. Can music from ancient times be recreated?

Episode #41: Is Courage Measurable?—Grace Talusan

  1. Are books today as diverse in terms of topics as they should be?
  2. Is pain explainable in words?
  3. Is courage measurable?

Episode #42: Photography as Testimony—Marcelo Brodsky

  1. Is the camera a witness of history?
  2. Is the photographer an intruder?
  3. Is it morally right to Photoshop photographs?

Episode #43: Hey Kiddo—Jarrett Krosoczka

  1. Are graphic novels replacing regular novels?
  2. Is autobiography a form of fiction?
  3. Can one be objective about one’s own life?

Episode #44: Writing on the Wall—Peter Cole

  1. Are words musical? Is the poet a composer of sounds?
  2. How does one become a poet?
  3. Is it possible to translate objectively someone with a different religious view?

Episode #45: Horizon—Barry Lopez

  1. What places in the globe are untouched by humankind?
  2. Does nature need to be saved?
  3. Is tourism innocent? Is it a form of destruction?

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