Meaning of words changing

We talked about words changing, words coming, and words going. See “Should Slut be Retired” in the NYTimes.

“The word “slut,” says Leora Tanenbaum, has changed.

Once largely derogatory, she writes in her new book, “I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet,” the word has become a way for girls and women themselves “to assert a positive, even defiant attitude about their sexuality.” Ms. Tanenbaum believes this assertion is misplaced — the word “slut,” she argues, is too dangerous to be reclaimed.

While not everyone sees the word “slut” the same way Ms. Tanenbaum does, many agree that girls and women today face intense and conflicting pressures when it comes to their sexuality. And to push back against those pressures, some say, they may need tools more complex and diverse than a single word.”

For more on this topic, read—


2015 Award Books

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:
The Crossover,” written by Kwame Alexander, is the 2015 Newbery Medal winner. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Two Newbery Honor Books also were named:
El Deafo” by Cece Bell, illustrated by Cece Bell. Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS.
Brown Girl Dreaming,” written by Jacqueline Woodson.  Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” illustrated by Dan Santat, is the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Dan Santat. Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Six Caldecott Honor Books also were named:
Nana in the City,” illustrated by Lauren Castillo, written by Lauren Castillo. Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art,” illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock. Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett. Candlewick Press.
Viva Frida,” illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Yuyi Morales. Roaring Brook Press, a Neal Porter Book.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus,” illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
This One Summer,” illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki. First Second.

Making connections between life and literature

I have just finished reading an adult book, Mary Coin by Marisa Silver. I am thinking about a paragraph toward the end of the book where one of the characters is beginning a yearlong research project. Here is the quote, the narrator says—

“He doesn’t know what the project will ultimately yield. He doesn’t want to know. Not now. Because answers are inert things that stop inquiry. They make you think you have finished looking. But you are never finished. There are always discoveries that will turn everything you think you know on its head and that will make you ask all over again: Who are we? (p. 320)

I wonder if this same line of thinking applies to questions we have about teaching and learning with children. Only by asking questions and seeking answers do teachers grow in their teaching. To become an excellent teacher we must always ask questions, and always seek answers.

This same idea applies to students learning through inquiry. We all learn by asking questions.

Power of language

I am still thinking about the use of language and its role in our lives.

Our neighbor, Susan takes foster dogs from the Humane Society and Second Chance; she knew I was interested in having a medium sized dog. Susan almost always fosters puppies because other foster parents do not want puppies. But, she got a three year old female. She is a mixed breed and a sturdy young lady, so I was concerned she might be demanding to handle. I asked Susan if we could have a sleep over week to see how it all worked. The dog came last night and she won’t eat. She just sleeps, seems depressed, and is withdrawing from her environment. She can’t TALK to me and we haven’t been able to decipher her other language.

Oh, how I wish she could talk.



Books and life

Books are interesting from multiple perspectives. Less than 2 months ago I read Ian McEwan’s book, The Children Act. The story contained several themes, but the central theme was about the main character, a judge, who had to make a decision about whether or not to allow a teenager with specific religious beliefs to refuse chemotherapy for a treatable/curable disease.

Then just this last week, I read an article about a Connecticut teenager who refused treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The treatment had an 80-85% chance of curing the 17 yr old girl’s disease. The CT supreme court ruled that the state had a right to treat this teenager. She ran away, was found, strapped to the hospital bed, and sedated for treatment. Here is more of the Connecticut story —

I guess I am thinking about where stories we read come from and what their value is to the reader.

2015 Spring semester-Thinking about the use of language

Recently I saw the following, “Both myself and the development office contacted XXX’s.”   What is troubling about this written comment?  Actually, I see 2 bothersome things.

First, ‘plain old’ common courtesy/sense says you place or position others first and yourself last. Everyone knows the appropriate line behavior (if you forget, you may be reminded) at the cash register or the airport check-in. Everyone knows to reply to a hello or a goodbye.  Just as spoken language contains rules of practice, written language does, too.  For example, you place others before you mention yourself, as in “Jane and I went for a walk to enjoy the beautiful sunshine.” Seems simple!!??

Second, think about the word, myself. Myself (himself, herself, yourself, itself, themselves) is a reflexive pronoun, therefore before using myself, your name should be in the sentence. For example, here is a correct sentence—”I see myself in the mirror.” The mirror is a reflection; myself is a reflexive pronoun. Furthermore, a reflexive pronoun can never be a subject.

Still thinking.

Life’s Challenges

The author of Mary Poppins, PL (Pamela Lyndon) Travers once told one of her favorite writers, Jonathan Cott:

“‘There’s a wonderful line in a poem by Theodore Roethke which says “you learn by going where you have to go.” You can’t learn before you set out, can you? You go along the road and learn as you go.’ ”

Umm, so does this quote mean at some point we must “set out.” Just do it. Just go for it!