All posts tagged: Language

Wounded Knee Anniversary, Precise language, and Perspectives that don’t matter.

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee where 20 U.S. troopers received the medal of honor for the slaughter of over 250 unarmed men, women, and children. To put history in context, this atrocity still holds active consequences today in the gold mines still operating in the Paha Sapa (Black Hills). In fact, if you’re feeling up to it, you can join the thousands of others who have stolen from indigenous lands and pan for gold yourself. This got me thinking and writing, and I came across some realizations I wanted to talk about. First, that the use of precise language is important in how we teach history. The second is that the use of the word perspective is a terrible argument in defense of atrocious behaviors and quickly falls apart when used in today’s context. The Third is that treaties matter, no matter how old they are, and to say otherwise is nonsense. Precision Language in Social Studies The Massacre at Wounded Knee was not an isolated incident. It was …

Poverty and Bias

I wasn’t really sure what to title this post because it is a topic that can be hard to sum up in a few words. This is something I have wanted to write about for some time, however, and feel that this is probably an appropriate time considering how language is being used today. When I think of the word villain I think about the dark character from Spy vs. Spy. Or maybe Gru from Despicable Me, if you are not into older cartoons. However, something I learned the other day from the History of English Podcast, found here, is that the word villain was originally a word for the people of a village who were a part of a serfdom to a lord, i.e., peasants.  In the podcast, the author makes a connection between the words villain and villein stating that they are etymologically connected. My immediate bias says that he is correct. Knowing how poverty has often been twisted in language to meaning a bad person or someone you cannot trust is not a …

Trump’s "Spiritual" advisor.

Today was supposed to be a fun and relaxing day to not talk about serious issues. I was going to attempt to write a short story just to get my mind loosened and ready for homework. Then, I opened Facebook.  Normally, I read news that people post and don’t have a single reaction to whatever it is that is going on. I may feel bad for people out in the world, but I typically center myself  and try not to react without taking time to think about it. However, this time I couldn’t just let it go. What I am reading and verifying is straight out of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  Basically, President Trump has a new-ish “spiritual” advisor. You know, like Jafar from the story of Aladdin. The same story where he uses his position and magical powers to exploit the sultan and gain more power. And for those of you who aren’t into Disney flicks that take stories and turn them into child friendly musicals, let’s just remember Rasputin. You know, the …

Progress

Today is definitely a day to celebrate some progress with my own wellbeing. I won’t go into too much detail but I was able to control my impulsivity and not share information that is best kept to myself. I’m pretty proud of myself. This is not where I would have been just 3 years ago. Anyway, I spent most of my day working 1-on-1 with students rather than teaching directly. In economics we spent a bit of time trying to understand the supply curve. Hint, I still don’t truly understand it. Then I spent quite a bit of time walking through one and two step equations with students in math. One thing that I think was helpful with that class is that I had the students verbalize the problem aloud. This is important because the students need to be able to identify operations and functions of those operations before they can move on to inverse operations. These students are still struggling but I can see some growth in their ability to work independently on equations …

Can we talk about holidays? Again

Every year, starting around Halloween it never fails that some teachers get their long underwear in a bunch over not being able to celebrate their holidays like the “good ole’ days.” Ladies and gents, I have seen every flipping argument in the book. From it’s my culture to it’s a free country, it never fails that we have teachers still fighting for them to flaunt their beliefs into the faces of their students. Let’s get real here, you typically don’t decorate your classroom for yourself. Everything you do is in some way connected to sending a message to your students. When you put words up on a word wall, you’re saying that these words are important. When you decorate with fall leaves, you’re setting the theme to seasonal. When you are putting up images of a Christmas tree, you’re saying that Christmas is important. What does this tell our students who don’t celebrate Christmas? What is the real outcome? Recently, I was in a discussion where the now few years old argument against saying happy holidays …

Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and "fixing problems."

How we talk about certain topics can define how we feel about those topics and shape other’s views on the topic. This has been shown in many different ways, in many different contexts. Some examples; using the determiner “the” in front of a social identifier changes the tone in a negative way, saying “those people” instead of identifying an individual, or calling people a slur or biased name in general. These are all examples of how the language we use both shapes us and is shaped by our feelings and thoughts. Recently, the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow girls into their scouting programs. Along with this decision, they have decided to also change their name from Boy Scouts to Scouts. This has a lot of people in an uproar and claiming things like, “This is a liberal agenda,” or “Society is going downhill.” These statements are demonstrably false. As a former Scout leader, I can’t tell you how many parents I talked to, with myself included in this group, that wished that our daughters …