Be aware of your words
September 3, 2013
I was really frustrated this summer when my kid's vernacular was reduced to: "bring it" when compelling another sibling to a challenge of some order or type.
So, I used my coaching voice (it's how I describe raising my voice for emphasis) and told them to stop. I told them that it served no purpose to use such a trite expression for every single situation that might spark a disagreement or provoke some kind of competitive contest. A couple of days later, I heard one say to the other: "Advance toward me, brethren," and I couldn't help but ask where they found this hearty retort. Of course, they found it on YouTube, and I guess it is a little better and at least invokes context and makes use of specific verbs and nouns!
School is very much the same as we get busy with the serious business of learning; many kids have made connections to historical background without serious consideration of the context — but will regurgitate the facts. Facts are important but understanding context allows for a considerable advance from looking around at the surface to digging deeper.
Yes, it's important to know that literature provides a rich historical perspective of our culture and reflects the society in which it was written but moving it forward to understand the bias and stereotypes present in the culture during the time the literature was written catapults learning to a higher level.
It is fair to describe many people in our country as hard working, persevering and charitable but what's fascinating about this particular attitude is that it was shaped by a group of people who realized that the only way to make it this New World was to figure out how to — "make it." When the founding fathers recognized that making it meant throwing of the shackles of an impervious crown, I'm pretty sure they might have been heard to exclaim: "Advance toward me, brethren!" And the rest, as they say, is history.
At least that's what I think.