People engaging in casual conversation on a sidewalk in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Consider this conversation: “Did you see the movie?” “Yeah.” “And?” “Awesome!” “Blew your mind?” “Totally!”
this exchange is typical of what we hear on the street. But does it provide any information? Does it induce you to see the movie? The movie-goer could have made any number of comments:
“It was enlightening. I felt inspired to take action.”
“It was a revelation about something I’ve been thinking about.” “I experienced a catharsis, and felt relieved of some fears.”
Rigi miracle 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Vocabulary and phrases are tools of expression, our means for conveying information, convincing others, and sharing feelings. While we need not use big words when small ones fit the bill, I suggest that we can and should strive for exactness of expression. Continue reading
Whether we know it or not, our bodies record our emotions and, if not released, they have the potential to engender bad behavior or illness. The language confirms this: “She worried herself sick over that boy,” or “He died of a broken heart,” or “The whole business turns my stomach.” These days, it is possible to identify and release emotions that have a negative impact on our bodies or spirit, and therefore our interface with the world.
Bodily manifestations of strong emotions are often readily apparent. Continue reading
Today’s parents are raising tomorrow’s bullies. Harsh? Relational aggression is harsh. We are witnessing Lord of the Flies,where children form their own social rules and hierarchies.
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In the story, a plane crashes on a desert island, the sole survivors being boys under 13 years of age. Continue reading
People used to sing spontaneously. I can still hear my mother singing us her wake-up call, and my neighbor’s voice raised in song as he washed dishes. This was before the age of cassette tapes, CDs, i-pods and i-tunes, a time when three generations routinely shared a song repertory, and the smallest child and grandma could sing together. Continue reading
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Many people display ribbons folded in a loop, indicating support for a cause. And many of those ribbons say: “Support our Troops.” I suggest that we envision teachers as our front-line soldiers, in the war against ignorance and complacency. Continue reading
This line from Oliver! is sung by children who have had nothing but gruel for most of their lives. Malnourished since birth, they imagine the sumptuousness of sausage and mustard, jelly and custard. But ours are not those children, and we have epidemic obesity. Why? Continue reading
The crafters of what we call “traditional” were writers such as Charles Dickens, for the 19th century saw a revival of sentiment, and longing for the warm and cozy feeling we now consider integral to Christmas. Writers spoke to those needs in their stories, and with the improved circulation of printed matter, practices became rooted in the public mind. No surprise then that today’s Christmas traditions are increasingly formed by the media, for ‘twas ever thus. Continue reading
Is it beneficial to feel grateful for what we have? I believe it is. People used to routinely say grace over a meal. This ritual reminded us that we thank some power beyond ourselves for the food before us. These days in theUnited States, many people have whatever they want, whenever they want it. Where, then, is the gratitude for anything? Continue reading
What parent never heard a child say, “I’m bored!”?
One September, as classes were resuming, one of my students was describing his summer as a shuttle from swimming camp to golf camp, to the next camp. He said, “the only problem was that I had no time to be bored.” Probing, I learned that he meant he had no time to simply be, to think his own thoughts. Continue reading
In some circles, adults encourage children to learn by “making it fun.” I think this is a bad practice, and an insult to children’s intelligence. Children in the habit of being entertained, or having tasks sugar-coated become accustomed to passivity, and demand little of themselves. Continue reading