Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Please forgive the heated post. I get testy about this topic.....If you don't feel like hearing me rant, just skip it. You'll probably end up happier for it. I'll try something more fun tomorrow.

Did it ever occur to anyone that using PC language is like identifying that you see something in a negatively stereotyped way, but are putting a pretty name to it? Saying something using PC jargon does not take away the problem that you are seeing differences through the eyes of someone who doesn't celebrate differences. We may as well use any of the horrible demeaning things that people say when they don't care otherwise as, for some people, PC language is just relabeling. It means that some people can say mean, non-well intentioned things under the guise of saying the right thing.

Shouldn't we be working to elevate attitudes not just language? Won't language follow suit if we elevate our attitudues? A more difficult, but more effective approach might be to ask someone why they said the wrong thing? Get the person to identify why they use those words they do and what it says about them and their world.

It also makes it very hard for the well intentioned folks out there who have no desire to say the wrong thing because it makes saying the wrong this so easy to do. I try to make an extra effort to be considerate, thoughtful, and friendly in my life and I don't want to mess that up by saying the wrong thing because I've not got the current turn-of-phrase that demonstrates my caring.

The language of PC has infiltrated eduction, too. It's like teaching phonics as the only method to learning to read. Phonics is a good tool to have, but should not a sole method of teaching someone how to read. Reading is much more complex than that and phonics cannot reach every child.

Schools don't know how to deal with the PC movement. Again, they really want to do the right thing and be good advocates of their community and its ideals, but by doing so they are culturally stripping our children's lives of meaningful social activity and dialogue. Even worse, teachers are not taught how to have these meaningful life lessons, but rather, are advised to avoid them with diversion and indirectness. If a child asks a question, there should be answers. School is a place for that type of interaction.

For example, if I'm a Christian and I want to call Christmas "Christmas", I should be able to do that. After all, it is my holiday and if someone isn't Christian, it shouldn't matter 'cause they wouldn't be celebrating this holiday anyway! I am part of a whole and Christmas is part of who I am as I function within that whole.

It's probably fair to have a "holiday season" at school that includes whatever needs to be included. I don't think anyone who celebrates Christmas would really feel that concerned if other holidays are discussed, too. Or, perhaps I'm wrong, but that would say a lot, too. I do think it would be sad to eliminate holidays at school because they are part of our cultural identity. Can we use it as a forum for education instead?

Primarily, we also need to look at whether we are celebrating difference or simply identifying difference. If we want children to grow up celebrating differences, then we should do just that. We shouldn't be looking for ways to neutralize language to the point that it has the reverse effect.


Anna said...

Boy, you are madder than a wet hen. Oh wait, I didn't mean to offend the hens.

Helen, Robert, Jack, and Emma said...

It's definitely a topic on my mind. I haven't completely digested the problem, but this is my initial reaction.


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