Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Intent of Words

In The Coddling of the American Mind, the author writes,

“A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.”

This scared me because many times I use movies and novels to discuss certain topics that affect or may affect many teenagers.

Many times, teens don’t feel comfortable talking about real situations or real feelings, so by using different media, we can talk about uncomfortable topics. Being able to relate to something that a character is going through can help many teens navigate the quagmire of emotions that they are dealing with.

At any point in time on any day, something someone says can be misconstrued or taken the wrong way. One word might trigger something in someone.

But we can not have this knee jerk reaction and control every word that everyone says. It is important to look at the intent and purpose of why things are said.

I remember when I was growing up, the word “gay” meant happy. Now the word is connected to homosexuality. Other words have changed over time and can mean something unintended.

Growing up, I was always called Chinese. Sometimes I was called Oriental. Over time, I’m told that some are offended by those words and the politically correct words are Asian American. I have to confess that I still say that I’m Chinese.

By censoring what is taught and said in classes, can be more detrimental that instrumental. By denying students an outlet, we are encouraging them to hide their feelings and not find a way to express them.

What if long division is traumatic to a student? What if their failure to master the skill caused them to face physical abuse at home? Does this mean that we can’t teach long division to our students because it may trigger intense feelings for this student?

Reading can be very traumatic to a student with dyslexia. Do we only allow audiobooks for the class so we don’t trigger intense feelings to students who have difficulty reading?

I think we are going too far when we are allowing this to happen. In fact, I find the whole idea ridiculous.

How do you feel about this happening? Please share.

Photo by Olivier Piquer on Unsplash

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