Archive for December, 2014


December 15, 2014 Comments Off on GIVE THE GIFT OF YOUR WORDS FOR THE HOLIDAY! General



I recently had the pleasure of hearing the brilliant filmmaker Ken Burns speak at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference in Boston. During his conversation with the teachers in the audience, he was asked if he thought that books continued to be important in the age of media and technological communication. His answer? “In the beginning was the word…”—Burns affirmed his belief that books would always be the most important source of information and communication.

I agree with Ken Burns about the fundamental and essential importance of the word – and I extend that importance into the ways in which we share personal words with one another. I enjoy and appreciate technology – I use and depend on social media. However, as I always tell my students, we must never allow social media or social communication devices to obliterate our ability to look into the eyes of our fellow human beings and share words of importance. For many years when I first taught at my university, students would talk and laugh outside their classrooms waiting for their professors to arrive. More recently, I can walk down a hall filled with students waiting for professors to arrive – staring at phones in complete silence. They are not talking to each other! There is so much to learn from and about every single person – I worry that we lose so many opportunities to live in true relationship with the real people around us when we lose ourselves in phones and texts and the Internet.

Let’s all resist the consumerism and distractions in this beautiful time of year and use our words to create a more humane social climate wherever we might be. If you are seeking a special and inexpensive way to celebrate the holidays of this season — find as many opportunities as possible to reach out to those around you with your words. Whenever you are with a person you know, tell them something you really appreciate or admire about them. Or tell them how much you are thinking about them in their time of loss or illness. Or help them to develop a stronger vision of the importance of what they do for other people – so often unnoticed but always appreciated. You will be amazed at how many opportunities to do this emerge every day – and you will be gratified by how much happiness you give to others for the holidays. Hold the door whenever you enter a building or room, and say hi to everyone who walks through. Say hello to people you pass on the street, and say something kind and thoughtful to those who serve you a cup of coffee or help you pay for a purchase in a store. Think of each of your kind words as a star in someone’s sky – shining for the rest of the day. There is so much wrong with the world in which we live – but our words have the power to bring light into the lives of those all around us.

Peace and love!


Written by Beatrice S. Fennimore a teacher educator focused on advocacy and social justice for all children