lesson 5 angels on a pin n.
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Lesson 5 Angels on a Pin. Why is the article entitled “Angels on a Pin”?.

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Presentation Transcript
The title of the text “Angles on a Pin” comes from the much-talked about question: “How many angles can dance on the head of a pin?” which is used to ridicule those people who asked meaningless questions about the Bible in the Middle Ages. It is also used ironically to describe the kind of questions that philosophers ponder.
Medieval scholastics were fond of debating such meaningless questions as “How many angels can dance on the point of a pin?” “Did Adam have a navel?” and “Do angels defecate?” The emerging sciences replaced such “scholarly” debates with experimentation and appeals to observable fact.
  • How adults “kill” creativity?
Insisting that children do things in the “right way”
  • Teaching a child to think that there is just one right way to do things kills the urge to try new ways.
  • Pressuring children to be realistic, to stop imagining.
  • When we label a child’s flights of fantasy as “silly”, we bring the child down to earth with a blow, causing the inventive urge to die.
Making comparisons with other children.
  • This is a subtle pressure on a child to conform; yet the essence of creativity is freedom to conform or not to conform.
  • Discouraging children's curiosity.
  • One of the indicators of creativity is curiosity; yet we often brush questions aside because we are too busy for "silly" questions. Children's questions deserve respect.
introduction to the text
Introduction to the Text
  • 1.This article was written at a time when the whole of the United States was thrown into a panic over the launching of the first satellite by the Russians.
  • 2.Many Americans believed that there must be something seriously wrong with their educational system..
  • 3.The nation’s problem in education was the traditional teaching and testing methods, which emphasized book knowledge rather than student’s originality and creativity.
theme of the story
Theme of the Story

Part of the nation’s problem in education is the traditional teaching and teaching methods, which emphasize book knowledge rather than students’ originality and creativity.


Structure of the Text

  • Text Analysis

The author was asked to be a referee on the grading of an exam question.

Part 1 (para. 1) about:

Part 2 (paras. ) about:

Part 3 (paras. ) about:

The student’s way of solving a problem of physics.


The student’s flexible way of working things out arouses our awareness of the drawbacks of the present-day education.


The end of Structure.



Alexander Calandra is now Professor of Emeritus of Physical Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The present text is adapted from “Angels on the Head of a Pin: A Modern Parable” which first appeared in Saturday Review. Dec. 21, 1968 and has, since then, become a classic (or an often quoted) case on the problems of American education.

The end of Author.

language study
Language study
  • 1. barometer
  • baro- weight
  • meter: to measure
  • More examples:
  • Thermometer (thermo=heat)
  • Centimeter (centi-=hundred)
  • Diameter(dia-=across)
  • Seismometer(seismo-=shake)
n.a.an instrument that measures the air pressure and shows when the
  • weather is going to change
  • b.something that shows or gives an idea
  • ofchanges that are happening
  • Examples:
  • Infant mortality is a highly sensitive
  • barometer of social condition.
  • the barometer of public opinion
2 bring sth up
2. bring sth. up

e.g. bring up the stairs

She was well brought up.

bring up questions/problems/evidence

He was brought up on a charge of causing a disturbance.(扰乱治安罪)

bring vp p 114
“bring” VP p. 114
  • bring about
  • bring down
  • bring in
  • bring back
3 credit
3. Credit
  • 学分 a measure of student’s work
  • e.g. a 4-credit course
  • earn credits
  • It takes 158 credits to graduate.
4 competence
4. Competence
  • competence (in doing sth./ in/for sth.)
  • e.g. Her mother’s competence in handling money is beyond doubt.
  • adj. competent
  • be competent for/in one’s work
5 warn
5. Warn
  • 1)to warn sb. about sth.
  • eg. I warned her about the weather.
  • Ma Yinchu warned us about the population problem.
  • 2)to warn sb. not to do sth.
  • eg: She warned me not to catch cold.
  • The doctor warned him not to smoke again
3)to warn sb. that…
  • eg. I warned you that you had to hurry.
  • We were warned that there was a storm coming.
  • 4)to warn sb. of sth. or against sth.
  • eg. I warned her of the danger.
  • Scientists warned the government against that policy.
6 pick up p 115
6. Pick up p.115
  • 1)take up
  • The bird picked up a worm.
  • 2) improve
  • pick up one’s spirits
  • 3) improve, recover
  • A little food will pick you up.
  • 4) improve
  • Business appears to be picking up.
7 if vs whether
7. If vs. whether
  • “if”cannot be used in the following situations but “whether”can.
  • 1) “or”
  • He didn’t know whether he should agree or not.
  • 2) to infinitive
  • I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
  • 3) after prep.
  • It depends on whether we have fund.
8 give up give vp p 114
8. Give up “give”VP p.114
  • 1) give up: stop doing; admit defeat
  • e.g. give up smoking/alcohol
  • give sb. up
  • 2) give in
  • give sth. in
  • 3) give back
  • 4) give off
  • 5) give out distribute; announce
9 recall
9. Recall

To remember, bring back to the mind, recollect

  • 1) recall + n.
  • e.g. I don’t recall your name but recognize your face.
  • 2) recall + doing sth.
  • e.g. I recall seeing the poster on the wall in our classroom.
  • 3) recall that-clause
  • e.g. I don’t recall that I ever met him / where he lives.
10 proportion
10. proportion
  • ~ of sth to sth:
  • eg the ~ of imports to exports进出口比例
  • in proportion: 符合相称
  • Her features are in ~.她五官端正。
  • ↔ out of ~
11 prefer
11. prefer:
  • like it better
  • This word is usually used in the following patterns:
  • 1) prefer A to B
  • 2) prefer to do sth.
  • 3) prefer doing sth.
  • 4) prefer to do …rather than do sth.
1)To prefer A to B
  • E.g: She prefers country life to city life.
  • He preferred history to literature.
2)to prefer to do sth.
  • eg. I preferred to work in Shanghai.
  • She prefers to wear cotton shoes.
  • 3)to prefer doing sth.
  • eg. ---Shall we go to the Summer Palace or stay home tomorrow?
  • ---I prefer going to the Summer Palace.
12 sophisticated adj
12. sophisticated adj.
    • 1)complex, refined, elaborate, subtle
  • eg. ~modern weapons 精良尖端的武器 ~embroidery 精美的刺绣品
  • 2)experienced老于世故的
  • eg. I don’t like working with very sophisticated person.
  • 3)Sophisticate n. an experienced person
  • Sophistication n. quality of sophisticated
13 in principle generally
13. in principle: generally.
  • Eg: I think you are right in principle (not necessarily in detail).
  • In principle, every child has the right to go to school.
  • The scheme seems OK in principle, but I want to know more details.
14 to work out to calculate
14. to work out: to calculate.
  • eg: We’ll have to work out how many people are needed..
  • She could work out the answer quickly on a piece of paper.
a.to calculate an answer, amount, price, or
  • value
  • b. to think about sth. and manage to
  • understand it
  • c. to think carefully about how you are going
  • to do sth. and plan a good way of doing it
  • d. to get better
  • e. to excise
1) You can work out the answer by adding
  • all the numbers.
  • 2) The plot is complicated; it will take you a
  • while to work it out.
  • 3) UN negotiators have worked out a set of
  • compromise proposals.
  • 4) I hope it all works out between Gina
  • and Andy.
  • 5) He works out with weight twice a week.
15 temptation
15. temptation
  • e.g.
  • There might be a temptation to cheat if students sit too close together.
  • v. persuade sb to do sth ,esp sth wrong or unwise
  • eg. He was tempted onto a life of crime by greed and laziness.
  • 受贪婪和懒惰的诱使他步入了罪恶的深渊。
  • ~er n. the tempter: the Devil, Satan魔鬼撒旦
  • tempting adj. attractive, inviting
  • eg. It’s very tempting to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the Yangpu River in the evening.
16 panic
16. Panic
  • e.g. Panic swept through the swimmers as they saw the shark approaching.
  • When four banks failed in one day, there was a ~ among the businessmen.
  • The forecast of flooding caused ~ in the riverside towns.
  • The audience were thrown into a ~ when the fire started.
  • They fled in a ~.
  • The crowd ~ked at the sound of the explosion.
  • a crisis that ~ked the government into taking rash measures