Who is Ribbie? Good question. Difficult to answer. One thing is clear, Ribbie defies definition. An artist, no. A poet, twice, as in two poems. A writer of note, not. A gambler, never. A fisherman of sorts, as a child. Never cared much for comic books, did Ribbie. Music lover, with musical genes and no gift. But what kind of music? Jazz – Miles, Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny to name a few. Classical too. Beethoven, Bach, Chopin and others. Some old stuff – the Rolling Stones, Curtis Mayfield, the Beatles, Muddy Waters, the Who, Led Zeppelin, old Genesis records, Pink Floyd, Yes, Jeff Beck, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake. By these ancient references, it is not hard to guess Ribbie’s age…but Ribbie may surprise a few with other musical interests like Steve Reich, Stereolab, Jimpster, Radiohead, Brian Eno, Bill Frissell, Derek Trucks and Kruder & Dorfmeister.

A devoted husband and father, Ribbie delights in the simple pleasures of life – day trips with family just to get out, barbecues, birding, a stroll in the arboretum, making hillbilly chilly and chillin with Ella the cat. Reading is one of Ribbie’s passions. Ribbie reads voraciously. In fact, he reads 3 or 4 books at a time, for Ribbie can, despite evidence to the contrary, focus on one task and complete it in a timely fashion. He can. What is Ribbie currently reading you ask? War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  I wonder if anyone every called him Leon, or Leonard?  Anyway, I started it in July of 2013, and as of April 28, 2014, I’m 79% through it and I have to say, as brutal as this may sound, the war bits (and I’m no hawk) are far more interesting than the peaceful bits.  I’m also still reading The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, and it’s a good one, and I’m 21% into Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin on my Kindle. 

Speaking of books, there are two that have influenced Ribbie the most and inspired him to become a teacher: A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn and Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire. Ribbie teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at a Community College and formerly directed a community based Adult Basic Education (ABE) program. An advocate for increased funding for ABE programs which include literacy, Pre-GED, GED, ESOL, college transitions, and Citizenship classes, Ribbie believes that all adults have a right to free basic education.

18 Responses

  1. Why do you refer to yourself in the 3rd person?

  2. You neglected to mention your admiration of Bobby Brady, fetish for vests (ie. tiger) tendency to play Genesis air organ, attempt to incite an employee rebellion, study of Lori Anderson lyrics, and the not-to-be forgotten “Send a Kid to the east coast” garage sale.

  3. I still have that tiger vest somewhere. My first job ended badly but justice prevailed. Lori Anderson, that’s right, I forgot all about her, but all Bobby Brady ever wanted was a trophy, just a trophy!

  4. Ribbie,
    I found your blog today when searching for multilingual athletes. I am a university student in Boston and am writing a term paper on the idea that high schools should have foreign language requirements of three years. I think its ridiculous that we live in such a globalized world and yet most Americans only know English. Obviously my thesis and paper is more structured than this, but I am having trouble finding legitimate sources to include in my paper. I was wondering if you had any suggestions. I really liked your point about how there is no excuse for reporters during the Olympics to have not had more interviews with Chinese and European athletes. How embarrassing is it that we make Americans the exception when assuming most athletes are multilingual? Again, if you have any suggestions for books, newspaper articles, etc. I would greatly appreciate it! thanks!

  5. Thanks for your comment. There has been a lot written on the benefits of bilingualism. I have a background in applied linguistics and am more familiar with material related to the acquisition of English as a Second Language, but you should be able to find tons of stuff on your thesis.

    I agree with you that there should be foreign language requirements in high school, but I think the study of a second or even third language should begin much earlier in grade school – so instead of 3 years, how about 7 or 8 years?

    There’s ample evidence to show that it’s difficult if not impossible to master a sound system of a new language after puberty – one of the reasons I think high school is too late to start. Check out the linguistic work of Noam Chomsky, and an excellent book by Judith Strozer called Language Acquisition after Puberty. Sonia Nieto has done some interesting work on multicultural education that is worth a look too. Charlotte Hoffman’s book on Bilingualism is also a good one. And there may be some articles in the TESOL Journal. I bet there is a Journal for Foreign Language Teachers. Google it.

    One problem with foreign language education in this country is the teaching (not the teachers) but the methods some teachers use (not all) based on meaningless translation and memory work and boring drills. This is a huge turnoff for a lot of students and explains why many say that they took four years of French or Spanish but can’t speak a word of it. Most of the people I know who learned a second language somewhat successfully, myself included, did so by traveling and making friends with native speakers of other languages here and abroad to get meaningful exposure to the language and culture and the opportunity to use it in authentic situations. You can’t learn a language with a set of headphones in a language lab or by studying from a book. Language learning is a social phenomenon and you can also say that language learning is culture learning. The more successful “foreign” language programs will use innovative approaches to instruction and sponsor trips to countries where the language being studied is the native language. But many school districts don’t have big budgets or the resources to provide those opportunities.

    And yes, it is embarrassing that so many of our journalists and even diplomats don’t speak another language or even try to. English has become the lingua franca of trade, politics, academics to some degree, the Internet and tourism – a sort of English language imperialism and accounts for why so many Americans don’t bother to really learn a foreign language – content, unfortunately, to remain monolingual. The rest of the world sees this lack of curiosity and intellectual laziness as arrogance and ignorance.

    Good luck with your paper!

  6. yay for Paulo Freire! his ideas have influenced me more than anyone else’s! I did find that my community college students struggle to comprehend his ideas but the ones who did, sparks flew!

  7. An orb by any other name…

    Been a very long time. N. D. N. in Philly sent this link to me. Could not find a contact link so I posted. Hope to hear from you soon.

  8. Congrats on your one-year blogging anniversary!!


  9. Your’re too kind! Don’t think I’ll ever match 30 posts in one month like I did last August 2008 – when I got carried away with it all, but If I can manage 1 post a week, I’d be happy. Thank you for reading.

  10. I thought you woke up every morning with something to say, write about, debate, and/or ponder. Yes, I’m reading also.

  11. Pete, I still do but there’s a lag from brain to blog. Thanks for tuning in and your comments are always welcome!

  12. ORB,
    I am the N.D.N in G. Peterson comment. I do not live in Philly, but you knew that. I connected w/ Pete in face book, how queer I know, but essential in connecting w/ people you never thought you would talk to again.
    I keep in touch w/ your blog. Very enlightening at times. I am however a republican and really don’t know very many dems. It is nice to hear your side of the story. A basher, name-throwing one I am not.
    HA! take care.
    ps as for medicare it is running out of money in 2014, unless we do something (raise taxes) as we have spent it all. It works, but is not a well paying agency – first hand knowledge being a recipient of the checks.

  13. Thanks Nicki for reading – it means a lot to me to know that you and Pete tune in. And thanks too for helping me reconnnect with some old friends from back in the day. I’m on Facebook now too but don’t post all that much.

    Funny, except for some friends on FB, I don’t know very many repubs, just like with you and the dems. But it’s good for all to have exposure to a broad spectrum of views.

    Hey, I’m definitely interested to hear more of your views on health care reform.

    Take Care,


  14. I love your pictures

  15. Hey ribbie, nice blog. I’m a fan!

    Just wondering… are you a Doors fan?

    I have always been fascinated with Jim Morrison. The fact that, when he was living in Tallahassee attending Florida State, he starved himself in order to have enough money to buy books floors me.

    The guy hated being known as a rock star and sex symbol. He wanted be taken seriously as a poet, writer and film director, but never was in Hollywood’s eyes. He even grew a belly and incurred a huge beard in order to not be known as a rock star and sex symbol, but still exemplified the two monikers.

    He’s often miscast as ‘arrogant’, but really, even though he did have an ego of sorts, he was probably the most selfless guy on The Doors. He always made sure the credit on their work went to the entire group and to never over-market their music.

    I love to sit back and chill to their bluesy hits. Morrison was a man of soul!

  16. I dig the Doors and Jim Morrison. Like so many of the good ones, he died before way before his time. Reminds me of Nick Drake, who like Morrison, shunned stardom but unlike Morrison refused even to play a live concert. And there was Hendrix, Lennon, Duane Allman, Janice Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Elvis, Stevie Ray Vaughn. I remember reading recently reading that Florida pardoned him for that indecent exposure conviction back in 1970. For Florida, that’s pretty forward thinking.

  17. Ribbie, Thinking about you and yours with all the craziness going on up there in Boston. Hope you are all well & safe.

  18. Thanks for thinking of us. We are safe. Watching the news closely. Hope they find the suspect soon!


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