13 Rules for Effective Communication in the Classroom #3 - Name Call, Label, Belittle

http://createdforlearning.blogspot.com/2014/08/13-rules-for-effective-communication.html

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http://createdforlearning.blogspot.com/2014/08/13-rules-for-effective-communication-in_8.htmlWords are powerful. And names are words. The old adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” just isn’t true. If it were true, people wouldn’t try to use those names as weapons, but the truth is, when we namecall, we can see the hurt feelings cloud over their eyes and facial expression. We’ve hurt them, and we know it! We feel powerful. We feel in control.
Maybe you’re thinking, “No, duh. We’re not supposed to call names.” We’re with you, it seems basic. Stay with us for a moment.
We’ve all been called hurtful names. Many of us even had teachers or parents who called us names or made us feel small. And if that adult repeated that name enough or said it at just the right vulnerable moment, chances are pretty good we remember the very instant the words were said to us.
Call a girl “shy” enough, and she just might become it. Command a boy to “stop being such a baby,” and he might stuff his emotions deep inside. Tell a teenage girl she’s getting a little chubby tummy, and an eating disorder might result. Tell that boy in P.E. to stop throwing like a girl, and we’ve disrespected both the boy and ALL the girls.
Dear Shoulders,
Please grow bigger.
Sincerely,
13-Year-Old Me
Remember back in middle school and high school when it seemed the parts of your body never grew at the same time? For me, my neck sure jumped out into the lead. The length of my neck did not match the thickness of my shoulders or chest or anything. I had a long neck. People suggested I wear turtle neck sweaters. Ha! They called me brontosaurus. Thanks, like I haven’t heard that before. Then there were my short arms. Yup, long neck, short arms. So someone else called me T-Rex. Get it…short arms? The thing is that as much as I tried to convince myself these names shouldn’t hurt me, they did. They don’t today, but I still think about them from time to time.
When we give people names and labels, what are we trying to accomplish anyway? Do we really want them to feel small? Do we want them to live into the names we’re giving them? Do we feel so powerless in our situation that namecalling is the best we’ve got? Is there a small part of us that feels good when their face shrinks under the power of our hurtful words?
And what about words we let students keep saying? Kids (and adults) use words they haven’t thought about the meanings of.
“What a retard,” the trying-to-be-cool kid says. Sure, he knows what these words mean, but he hasn’t really thought about the deep meaning of what he’s saying. He’s comparing that student to a student with mental handicaps. He’s saying people born without certain abilities are worthy of insult because he’s using a slang word for them as an insult. What if we disallowed these words? Or just made the students aware? Sometimes I’ve thought about saying, “What if those handicapped students don’t want to be compared to him?” but then I realize that by defending one group of people, I’d be disrespecting this other student. Even though I think they’d all get my point.
And what about other phrases: “You’re such an idiot.” “This is dumb.” “What, are you deaf?” Can we all agree to stop using insults that are connected to people with disabilities? And can we make a pact to lead our students into better language usage in the future?
But wait, there are more.
Homo. Fag. #anythingtomakefunofthesestudents
Nerd. Geek. #mockingtheirfuturebosses
Dork. Freak. Clutz. Goth. Jock. #anyofthecliques
So many labels get thrown around, and they end up the opposite of the blessings of identity our students crave deep down. Rebellious, trouble-maker, bratty, mean, lazy, selfish, slut, or anything else is not going to make things any better. In the moment, it may even seem true, but we’re the mature ones in the relationship (Right?) and if we’re not going to set the correct tone, then who is?



 

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These rules are adapted with permission from Roger and Becky Tirabassi's premarital workbook for seriously dating and engaged couples - The Seriously Dating or Engaged Workbook. Roger and Becky have also co-authored a book for married couples called Little Changes Big Results for Crazy, Busy Couples. The principles in these books have changed so many areas of our life. We highly recommend them.


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