Hey, Zeus!

Silent letters have always perplexed me. As a huge proponent of the English language, I can’t help but consider them my friends, but it’s more like in a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” sort of way. Why name her “Sarah” when you can name her “Sara”? Why is it a “gnat” instead … Continue reading Hey, Zeus!

Words

These words are not mine Even though they pass my lips Like sparkling lemon water Making me thirst for more The undulating rhythms Of living language thrive They constantly vibrate But I study them from afar These turns of phrase This quickening of terms Shaking me to my core They say such sweet things But … Continue reading Words

Well… F#*k

I said the F word in class the other day,  because a story I read to my students utilized it. It wasn’t just there as decoration, as I often see it, not merely masquerading as an adjective when another word would have been more appropriate. It was an exclamation of sheer despondence. And that’s just … Continue reading Well… F#*k

The Language of Things

Every relationship has an originality to it that defies explanation, but it can be seen in the subtle signals, in the secret code, and in the routines that separate the two within it from the rest of the world. No matter if the relationship is a short one or has some longevity there are always … Continue reading The Language of Things

The Dumbing Down of Language

127192508_640When I first began teaching ninth grade English I remember thinking about the language I was going to use and whether or not the students would understand the way I normally convey language. And the thought process was all tied up and twisted together with the zone of proximal development I had learned in my education program in school, the process of learning that forces kids to stretch beyond their normal reach but not so far that they get frustrated. It also provides for some scaffolding to help kids reach that level instead of letting them flounder out there. But I think for ease’s sake, too many teachers, nay, too many parents, participate instead in the dumbing down of language.

My mother used language that I didn’t understand all the time when I was growing up, but she also encouraged us to ask questions, and the same was true when reading books. One of the biggest issues most kids have when it comes to tackling large words when reading is that they want everything given to them. As a parent it’s hard to watch your children struggle with doing anything, much less trying to tackle words that are a bit too big for them, but one of the worse things you can do is to make it too easy for them. They won’t learn the glory of perseverance and the satisfaction of achievement, and they will take too much for granted. My mother believed in that philosophy, making sure she never gave me or my sister those words, providing us with support with letter sounds and blends, but never handing it over pre-packaged. And I appreciate her for that. Continue reading “The Dumbing Down of Language”