What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures is the fourth book released by author Malcolm Gladwell, on October 20, 2009. The book is a compilation of the journalist's articles published in The New Yorker.
Million-Dollar Murray, Why Problems like Homelessness May Be Easier to Solve Than to Manage
The problem of homelessness does not have a quick or easy solution. There simply isn’t enough money to go around, and to try to help everyone a little bit, isn’t as effective as helping a few people a lot. Our usual moral intuitions are of little use here when it comes to hard cases. Gladwell summarizes, “We can be true to our principles or we can fix the problem. We cannot do both.”
When homelessness surfaced as a national issue in the 1980s, a graduate student named Dennis Culhane put together a database to track who was coming in and out of the shelter system. His discovery profoundly changed the way homelessness is understood. It doesn’t have a normal distribution; it has a “power-law” distribution. 80% of the homeless population came in and out very quickly. The biggest problem was the smaller group of people who were chronically homeless, costing the state millions of dollars annually.
The city of Denver started a program where they issued apartments to the people with the biggest problems who were chronically homeless, with the thought that keeping them out of the shelters would save the city money. This worked economically but was unfair morally to the thousands of people who could hold a job but still needed a helping hand.
Gladwell draws an analogy between providing shelter and providing smog checks. The older a car is, the more likely it is to be broken. Instead of all motorists going to a shop and paying $25 for a test that 90% of them don’t need, why not set up mobile devices that could measure smog levels of cars on the freeway. Police could then just pull over the people that needed to reduce their smog i.e. the people who needed the most help. Murray Barr was one chronically homeless drunk that police officers picked up over and over. They totaled up the cost of all of his hospital stays, drug treatment costs, and doctor’s fees, and it came out to over 1 million dollars! (Quicklet)
This is teaching materials for a New Yorker article.
The vocabulary, questions and research for this article are mostly related to the homelessness, how we look at societal problems, and power-law distribution.
Before the reading or the assessment, there is a pre-reading sheet that asks students for prior knowledge, opinions, and prediction on the subject, along with vocabulary acquisition (words that need to be introduced to better understand the information) and priming the reader in order to get them to think about the subject.
The post-reading assessments included vocabulary acquisition, critical thinking questions, and recall or comprehension questions on one sheet. These questions come in the forms of a mixture of matching, short answer, and multiple-choice. By completing this sheet the student will demonstrate an understanding of the material on multiple levels. The student will also need to use the internet to complete some simple research to answer
The other assessment is a creative art sheet. The creative art sheet asks the student to use the details from the article and their own knowledge, experiences, and imagination to synthesize a totally new work, this is a picture that is a visual representation that recreates of details, person or maybe the student's use or view of an aspect of the article. Along with this picture the student will explain their work with a short explanation.
While these articles are part of Gladwell’s book “What the Dog Saw” they were all previously publish and are available free for download on the author's website and from the New Yorker, as this is the case I am including the article.
The materials provided
1 Informational article
1 Post-reading informational article worksheet
1 Pre-reading informational article worksheet
1 Creative Art Sheet
1 Answer Key