Saturday, December 21, 2013
Reading, Communication and Analysis
Reading is fast becoming a lost art. A recent event spoke to me about just how far we've come away from the foundations of understanding.
Language is a currency in which we must put faith in order to properly communicate. When we use counterfeit currency, we deceive, just as we do when we change a word's meaning. When "door" does not mean "door", we lose the ancient landmark of which we know our boundaries. We saw this recently when our nation sought to change the definition of the word "marriage", via democratic process, rather than use a different word to describe something very different.
We have also seen our freedom of speech be dramatically reduced as we have allowed government more control over our lives than ancient despots ever thought possible. Drowned by prosperity, no one knows how long it can be sustained, as there are more people living off the state in our country than there are inhabitants in the nation of Greece today. Historically, we are sailing on uncharted waters, and those who produce are being separated, socially, from those who strictly consume. Where it ends, or better yet, how it ends, remains to be seen. End, however, it will.
In the world of entitlement, egalitarianism, and legalized bullying, the employer is bad, the employee is good, and everyone gets an A+ in order to bow before the gods of self esteem. Kids now "knock out", that is, so violently strike another human being as to cause immediate brain damage and cessation of consciousness.
Somewhere out there is a politician who just knows that if he can get a few dollars, he can fix it.
Beneath the rubble is the little child who is not learning how to read.
With all of our advances, we are now seeing an entire generation of children growing up with inefficient reading skills, and as the state fails, it prescribes medication and throws even more money at the problem.
I was down on the floor playing with my grandson, Ethan, when, from across the room, came these words, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear! What do you see? I see a Red Horse looking at me!" and Ethan immediately threw his head 180 degrees, and did the "GI Joe" crawl, in excitement, over to the chair, and hit his hand, several times, on the book.
He was a week shy of 8 months of age, and it is now "instinctive"that he reacts to books. His parents read to him before he was born, and have, along with other family, been reading to him throughout. He says "Da Da!" for his father to read to him.
Contrast this to a 2 year old who can't sit still for a book, won't speak (except to say 'no') but can operate an iPad AND a DVD player at the same time, in the car. His babysitter? A 19" television off in the corner of his 12' by 12' playpen. It is almost impossible to engage him, even for the most animated adult, or get him to show interest in a book. He has been babysat by the television and the passivity (absence of human interaction) has taken its toll. Combine this with the myriad of new electronic devices and it will not be long before the system says he needs medications and special reading tutors, and...they'll throw all kinds of money at him but he will not excel.
Our communication is via speech. The mechanism of speech is words. Words tell us what is in the human heart, for it is out of this abundance, or so people of faith know, that the words come. The "heart", that is, the seat of the affections and intellect (what we feel, what we know), is transmitted to the tongue, and the words are chosen quickly.
My arch enemy when I was 13 was a thirty something female school teacher with a blistering red pen who upended my self esteem by marking EVERY SINGLE ERROR on the paper. She did not take any excuses, sob stories, or manipulations. She ripped our self esteem to shreds until there was nothing left but...
a well written paper.
"How you doing?" was met with, "I am well, thank you..." and she expected, and received, the same respect.
I am grateful today for the harsh junior high English task master!
So it is that those of you reading this with either young children, or grandchildren, may also be, one day, if you grab that book (or that kindle?) off the shelf (or off the iPad?) and READ to your child or grandchild.
Teach statement analysis early. It is, essentially, a listening skill that can be learned.
I recently had a challenge come the way of a child who's mother was infuriated that her daughter claimed to have caught her in deception. In one of those funny, not-so-funny moments (never forget: even in humor, words are chosen for a reason!) the mother challenged me.
"I don't lie! Just try me! "
I said to her, "Let's say that you were accused of stealing from your employer. What do you do?"
She said she was a waitress.
I saw a twinkle in her daughter's young eyes with that, "you're gonna get her" look.
"Ok, great", I said. "Let's say that money went missing from the register, and I think you took it! What would you say in the interview?"
She said, "I would say, 'I did not. I swear to God, I did not take the money!"
I saw the twinkle in her daughter's eyes spread to the cheeks, where the mouth extended into a very large smile.
I asked her if she would "swear to God" and she said that she would because it is true.
"Well", I said, "It is likely that you did not take the money, but the fact that you said, "I swear to God" tells me that you may have lied about something else, and let me now ask you, Have you ever taken anything from your job that did not belong to you?"
"Oh, God no!", she exclaimed. "I would never do any such thing! Never! Ever!"
Her daughter interrupted her quietly and said, "Uh, Mom? Hello, Mom? Remember that roll of toilet paper?"
The flush came over the young mother's face. She had "borrowed" an "emergency roll of TP" from the place she worked.
"Oh, God, that's not stealing! I am so embarrassed. I was out of TP and didn't have time to go to the store. They have so many that they would not miss it anyway!"
Our words do give us away.