Category Archives: Relationships

The Power of Words

Recent world, local, and personal events have had me ruminating on a particular childhood saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Why is it that we lie to children like this? Why is it that we teach children to lie to themselves?  The hard truth is that words do hurt.  Words have meaning.  We use words to communicate.  We use words to spread ideas and to discuss feelings and emotions.  We use words to motivate and inspire and persuade.

Unfortunately, we also use words to berate, weaken, harm, and sow doubt.   Words are used to drive people apart.

We (yes this includes me) do not always choose our words carefully.  We don’t always get across what we want to communicate because we often let our emotions get the better of us.  Also, we can not always control how our messages are received.  Worse yet, sometimes the intent is to cause harm with our words.

We always need to try to communicate clearly.  We need to control our words.  There are individuals in the world who understand this concept and use the power of their words to cause division and discontent.  There are those who use words to damage, to hurt, to oppress, to weaken, and to shame.   Thankfully, there are also those whose words are used to develop worth and to build pride, to strengthen bonds, and to shine light in the darkness.   

My words may not always be elegant, gracious, or the clearest, but if I do not attempt to use my words, then I am doing myself a disservice.  There is power in words and through words I can find my own power.  This power may start small, but at least it is something and it is better than wasting it and not using it at all.  I hope that what power of words I do possess can bring people together.  I hope that it can help people to think for themselves and that it can serve to build bridges between those with different ideas, opinions, and beliefs.

Because I have learned that words have power, I find that it is my duty to use words to instigate thought and constructive discourse.

Another saying that is often thrown about is, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” I think that this one happens to be true. It is not through the sword that we will bring peace, equality, and education to the world, but with the pen. This is because the pen (communication) requires time and patience, and can explain subtleties while the sword is swift and unyielding and does not leave space for deliberation.

The sword divides, while with the right words the pen can unite .

 

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Why We Connect

Learning is about making connections. School is about relationships.1 Relationships require making connections.

Building relationships has always required making connections and people have long been a social species.2  As the world of connected educators moves beyond Connected Education month, I would like to focus your attention on the idea that educators have long had the opportunity to join together and learn from each other.   However, now we are living in a society that requires this from us.  I, and many others, take great joy in the fact that the technology now exists to help us make many new and diverse connections in faster and easier ways. 3

At the heart of the relationships we need to develop are the relationships we cultivate with our students.  They are the reason we got into, and remain in, education. Cultivating these relationships allow our student to learn on a deeper level.  However, if we are not connecting with other educators beyond our classroom, we are not exposing our students to the best possible learning. We do not know everything, and if we are going to facilitate the education our students receive properly, we must acknowledge this. I make this arguement because if we do not foster our connections, we do not continue learning ourselves, and sadly begin to stagnate.

Making connections starts with the conversations we have in our own buildings. We need to go to the classroom next door and down the hall. We need to learn from not only other educators but other students as well. The truth is, many times we are not aware of what we do not know. If we do not expose ourselves to new experiences we will never reach our full collaborative potential and never create the best educational experiences for our students.

These local connections are just the beginning. When we limit our community, there is the chance that we warp each other’s visions. I am fortunate to have grown my Professional Learning Network not only across the country but internationally as well. Thishas  allowed me to see new perspectives and new ideas that directly benefit my students. This is the real reason we must connect across borders–both literal and figurative.  Our students deserve no less.

One of my new favorite quotes, courtesy of George Couros (@gcouros), is “The smartest person in the room is the room.” We are quickly moving to the point that our room is truly global, however, we all need to remember that in order to learn we need to listen.

In order to build our success we must tear down the walls of our own making.

 

1This being a blog, I’ll spare you the research, but if you’re interested in some further reading, here is a piece to check out:

Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevdon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

2 Check out E.O. Wilson’s work

3 For example, see Twitter chats #edchat Tuesdays at 12 and 7 pm EST; #satchat Saturdays at 7:30 and 10:30 am; or #edtechchat Mondays at 8 pm EST.

Alternatively check out these chats’ respective archives:

http://edchat.pbworks.com/w/page/219908/FrontPage

http://www.bradcurrie.net/satchat.html

http://edtechchat.wikispaces.com/Edtechchat+Archives

Also, there are active educator communities on Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, and even email listservs from professional orginizations.  The kist goes on…