Category Archives: mean of life

Language is culture: Heading back to the basics

Hello Friends! It is great to be back online blogging about all that is literacy and teacher education.

I (Yiola) came across this link on youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1xy6l9JlSY

The story of a young woman at work who stepped in when a man wanted to place an order and did not share the same language. How simple, yet utterly complex, is the power of shared language. The video clip is a clear and real message that represents the power and purpose of language.

When someone is understood, through language, they belong.   It reminds me of James Gee’s work and the idea of discourse communities. We are all part of discourse communities, multiple discourse communities.  How wonderful it is when we can connect with one another through discourse — through language. This kind of connection also leads to cultural connection.

I am travelling this month and currently in Vienna. Now that I am removed from “my place” I feel the disconnect through language.  My inability to communicate well (I do not speak German) is not only a communication barrier, it represents a cultural barrier, and in turn, exclusion.

In these times of intense consideration of (and experiences of) exclusion, it is worth nothing the power of language and how language itself can foster inclusion, especially with our own “place”.

Language: dialect, nationality, symbols = culture. Culture = understanding and inclusion.  Language is culture. Language is power.

 

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Parents versus Friends

In the Toronto Globe & Mail on January 15th I (Clive) read an interesting excerpt from a book by Leonard Sax called The Collapse of Parenting. According to Sax, young people are IMG_3128increasingly looking to friends for support rather than their parents; and the problem with that is whereas parents tend to stick by their children through thick and thin, many young people just drop their friends after a dispute or perceived minor infraction. As a result, children are becoming more vulnerable and anxious (a phenomenon others have noticed).

I think teachers should discuss this set of issues with their students as part of ongoing way of life education (and also introduce them to children’s books or young adult novels that deal with friendship, family life, etc.). Why do young people turn to friends rather than parents? Are they taking this too far? Do they realize the dangers (whatever they are)? Are friends less supportive than family? Support from friends often comes at a price (loyalty, obedience, etc.), but does family support also have a price? Should we go to friends for some things and parents for others? These are tricky questions, but I think exploring issues in a safe environment is always better than leaving young people to grapple with them on their own. And we will learn a lot through the discussions too!

 

Are you happy?

41e13pkIBfL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I (Clare) was reading Paul Dolan’s latest book: Happiness by Design: Change what you do not how you think. http://www.amazon.ca/Happiness-Design-Change-What-Think/dp/159463243X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438260329&sr=8-1&keywords=Paul+dolan

There are many interesting parts – understanding happiness, defining happiness … on page 77 there is an interesting chart which reports a survey conducted in the UK re: who are happy. Below are the results:

Florists and gardeners – 87%

Hairdressers and beauticians – 79%

Plumbers and water workers – 76%

Marketers and PR people – 75%

Scientists and researchers – 69%

Leisure and tourism workers – 67%

Construction workers – 66%

Doctors and dentists – 65%

Lawyers – 64%

Nurses – 62%

Architects – 62%

Child care and youth workers – 60%

Teachers – 59%

Accountants – 58%

Car workers and mechanics – 57%

Electricians – 55%

Caterers – 55%

HR and personnel staff – 54%

IT and telecom workers – 48%

Bankers – 44%

Some of these results surprised me! So are you happy? Do you think the results have changed over time? Do you teachers in previous decades were happier? And bankers at 44%. Hhhhmmm…..