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Posts Tagged ‘English’

As an English teacher and writer I love words! I have uploaded dictionary.com onto my cell phone and signed up for the Word of the Day. How fantastic is that? One moment every day I have the opportunity to stop and look at the word that appears on my phone. I read the word and then instantly, in that moment, know if it is a word I already know, a word I think I know, or a word I have never heard before. When I check it out I often discover things I may not have known about the word: the pronunciation, spelling, meaning, or how to use it in a sentence.

In that moment the word comes alive. It is given breadth, and width, and feeling, and meaning, and motion and power. Some words feel good when I say them and I may repeat them over several times. I may try to say them in sentences or change the pitch or tone of how I say the word and in that moment I am taken up into the word and the power it can hold in a conversation, a speech, an email, a diary, or on Twitter. Sometimes, oddly enough, I do not like the way the word “feels” in my mouth when I say it. I always try to avoid those words!

The words being spoken in our presidential campaigns for 2016 can be divisive, harmful, hurtful, angry, and mean. They can tear down a person, a town, an ethnic group, or a nation the moment they are spoken. Let us hear some words of up lifting, of compassion, of caring, and of love for humanity instead. The moment cannot be taken back, you cannot grab those words like the line of a fishing pole and pull in the fish and gently take the hook out of its mouth and drop the fish back into the lake. They are in the hearts and minds of the people, forever on the internet, on Twitter, and in the archives of some newspaper.

Everyone has wished at some time or another in his or her life that they could take back those words that were spoken in the mystery of that moment. Charles Fillmore the co-founder of Unity Church said that words have power and weight and measure and once spoken in that moment they are thrown out into the stratosphere and beyond and vibrate the cosmos farther than man can see or travel. In any moment they can cut like a knife or cure like a medicine.

I remember being in a hospice unit visiting one of my congregants who was suffering from a huge tumor the size of grapefruit on her neck. I held her hand and we prayed together I told her the choice was hers to go or stay. I could feel the calm overcome her body, in that moment, she chose life. Three months later she came back to one of my classes and we all celebrated life with her. She shared a story with us that had us all amazed. On a follow-up visit to her doctor low and behold the tumor had disappeared and he told her that because of her he now believed in a God, there was no other explanation in his mind in that moment words healed them both.

In this moment your words are healing or hurting or killing. There is power in words—choose wisely.

Let me know how that goes.

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

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All of us are teachers in some way or another.  Some of us teach as parents, some teach as grandparents, some teach the very young in Head Start and Montessori, others may teach K-12, and still others may teach in higher education arenas such as vocational/technical schools, community colleges, state colleges, and universities.  Some teachers are called coaches and they work in the community in all the sports from baseball, to football, to basketball, and soccer, and even cheer leading.  Some are teachers at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, or with the scouting organizations, or at Sunday school, the temple, or the Mosque, but teach we do in a thousand different ways.

More importantly we all teach by our example whether we are at work, at play, on vacation, in the store, or walking the dog.  We teach good habits and bad ones.  Remember the old saying that a child learns more from what you do than what you say.  I watched my father smoke cigarettes as I grew up and so in high school I took up smoking.  Fortunately for me, I quit early on when they went to 50 cents a pack. I told my girlfriend that the price was way too high and did she know what I could do with that 50 cents!

One of my favorite books on teaching and learning is by Robert Leamnson titled Thinking about Teaching and Learning Developing Habits of Learning with First Year College and University Students. In his introduction he says that philosophy influences our pedagogy or how we teach.  So he ends the introduction chapter with his “own personal minimal list of elements that should go into a philosophy of teaching and they are as follows:

1.  Develop a clear and explicit concept of what learning is.

2.  Language is at the heart of the matter.

3.  Beware the “preposterism.”

4.  Know the clientele.

5.  Believe that what you do makes a difference.

6.  If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

7.  Helping implies loving (pages 7-8).

To discover what some of these mean you’ll have to get the book, but for now I want to share my thoughts on three of them:  4, 5, and 7.

For me number four “Know the clientele” is imperative.  He says “Students must be known as they come to us and not as we would like them to be.  Knowing includes their culture, their level of preparedness, and their intellectual and emotional needs (page 7).”  In South Florida we have students enter our colleges from all around the world.   From every nation and culture and religion and they are all welcome.  So knowing each of their cultures, traditions, and religious beliefs is not an easy task, but it is an important one.  That is if you want to be able to help your students learn and grow and develop as thinking, caring, human beings who have mastered your subject matter, while at the same time be someone who will be able to move our country and the world to a better place in which to live.

For number 5 “Believe that what you do makes a difference.”  Leamnson writes, “What we do is different from what we know.  How we present our discipline to students is as important as what we present (page 7).” So how are we presenting the material?  Are we just boring them to death with our words, lectures, and Cliff Notes?   Or are we getting them involved in real life experiences to help them learn the subject.  Are we immersing them in the issues, rules, theories, and principles in such a way that they can see them in living breathing examples within their world?  Or are they just learning and remembering enough to pass your final exam and get on to their next class?

Lastly, number seven “Helping implies loving.”  Here Leamnson writes, “We work hard and go that extra mile for those we love.  We will go about our teaching more seriously and energetically if we love our students (page 8).”  I love my students and I am so honored to be able to stand in front of the classroom whether I am teaching developmental English at Broward College, or medical transcription at Kaplan University, or business writing, mindfulness, or ethics for a corporate client.  I know that if I can just share with them one tip, idea, theory, or principle that will help them communicate more carefully, fully, and correctly it may help them get a great job, gain that promotion, impress their boss, teacher, or family member.  And maybe—just maybe—it will help them to love and appreciate themselves more.  And when they do that it will help them get better grades, get that promotion, and move up their level of self-esteem, pride, and self-worth.

If each of us does that it will allow us to watch this world grow and become a better more compassionate and loving place to live.  Teaching is not just a philosophy—it is a way of life.  I challenge you to teach those positive attributes that you have learned throughout your life.  Teach them to everyone you meet by your example and together we can watch the planet transform.

Teach your philosophy by living  your philosophy!

 

 

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