Monday, July 10, 2017

The Power of Language

While reading through a book for my teacher's seminar (which starts today!), I read a sentence that blew my mind: "...I focus on those things teachers say (and don't say) whose combined effect changes the literate lives of their students" (from Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston). That sentence led me a million different directions, but I zeroed in on just one: Everything you say to a person changes their life. 

Loaded words, right?

As an incredibly sarcastic child*, I didn't need to be told that a well-phrased jab was more effective than any physical injury. Everyone has experienced hurtful words–whether they came from someone intending harm or a person who thought what they said wouldn't matter.

The thing is, the words that come out of our mouths don't simply fall out. Writers talk a lot about agency; in the book world it's about characters who do rather than react. In the teaching world, agency is about showing students that their actions have immediate and delayed effects on the world around them.

Looking at the world around me, it often feels as though the general public has no sense of their own agency. They allow anything and everything to pour out of them, as easy as dumping out a glass of water. We call names and talk smack without realizing that every time we label a person a certain way, we might be turning them into the monster we assumed they were.

As I jump into being a teacher, I hope I can choose my words well and use them for good. 

Michelle is back to a (relatively) normal work schedule, huzzah! Hopefully the new routine doesn't kill her... D:

*child...and adult. Let's not make the mistake of thinking I grew up and lost my dry sense of humor. Heaven forbid!

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