http://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/styles/large/public/confessions_of_a_community_college_dean_blog_header.jpgBy Matt Reed. One of my favorite classroom exercises -- I didn’t invent it, but I used it -- involved a close reading of “Mary had a little lamb.” It’s a surprisingly ambiguous sentence, if you pay attention. For example, what does “had” mean?  Does it mean “once, but no longer?”  “Ate?”  “Gave birth to?”  “Copulated with?” And in “a little lamb,” what does “little” mean?  Just a few bites?  A lamb that was itself small?  Or modestly endowed?  Shorn of context, it could mean that she owned a small lamb, or that she ate a few lamb mcnuggets, or that she gave birth to a baby lamb.  Context matterRead more...