This is so true…our language (and not only at the education arena) is sometimes so oppressive, shapes our minds, relationships and behaviours…while I love learning (and teaching) many a time I’ve witnessed the effect they have on others: we focus education on “evaluations”, “terms”, “deadlines”, “schedules”, “guidelines”…all boxes that cut and suppress the beauty of learning ( and teaching)
I had the privilege of hearing two Native American women, Rina Swentzell and Tessie Naranjo, talk about their mission to “save” the Tewa language from extinction. What was profound about their talk was their discussion of the power that language has to influence how we think and what we do; and that language is culturally determined.
Rina Swentzell posed the following questions during her talk:
- What is our relationship to words?
- How does language connect us?
- How does language become representative of our hearts?
Dr. Swentzell went on to contrast Tewa to the English language. Tewa language is softer, European languages harsher and harder. Tewa language focuses on verbs; as a doing-ness. European language emphasizes noun – the things. Tewa is inclusive, European languages often are not. She also discussed how very similar words have different meanings, For example, the Tewa words for to teach and to learn are…
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