Archive | 11:41 pm

The Language Is Everything

16 Aug

Words are everything. They are our most important tool in communicating with others and how we learn language and learn how to use language will have much to do with our success and our failures in life. The beauty of words is that they can have so many varied and different meanings depending on where and how we use them. However, what makes words beautiful in one person’s mind can also make them ugly and frustrating in another. How are we supposed to know what a person means unless they are exact and precise in what they have to say? One man’s definition could lead to another man’s doubt. Take for example the Declaration of Independence; a document that although forthright in its declarations can reveal upon closer scrutiny that when words are chosen carefully enough, meanings that seem straight forward and clear can still be open to further and even contradictory interpretations.

“All men are created equal.” That seems simple enough doesn’t it?

All: Everyone. Men: Male. Created: Made. Equal: Same.

So what they were so eloquently saying was, every male is made the same.

They could just as well have written “All people are equal.” Not very poetic but definitely more precise and certainly leaving nothing to argue about, but they didn’t did they?

By using the word men they were excluding half of America’s population, namely the women! By using the action verb created instead of a verb of being like is or are they were implying that after someone does the creating, we can still make you a slave, or ignore you altogether, like the Native Americans and African Americans, thereby leaving out another 20+ percent of the continents population. In all honesty, once you’ve added “men are created” to the sentence then words like all and equal are useless modifiers.

It took me a long while before it occurred to me that two of my favorite founding fathers from history, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, owned people. No matter what their thoughts were about freedom and the rights of people, they never let it get in the way of business. They truly were the first trickle down theorists weren’t they? If American slaves would only join the revolution and fight along side the colony’s white revolutionaries there would be freedom for all upon victory. First freedom from the tyranny of the British king would come to white Americans who would then eventually see to it that freedom from the tyranny of white American slaveholders would eventually trickle down to the lesser American’s… like slaves. And it only took 4 score and 7 years (and a civil war) for the trickle to make it all the way down.

So we need to stress in our public schools and to our public school students that not only is learning to read and write important but also that the study of words and their various meanings and usages are equally important if not more so. Students must be admonished to always remember to use them carefully and remember that others may be using them carefully too. And above all, like our founding fathers, have some fun with them because not only is language important, language is everything. Now go read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (I’ll bet you never have really read them before) and see if you can figure out what our founding fathers were trying to tell us.

And while you are at it how about starting a little notebook for yourself right now? Jot down all of the words in this book that you do not understand or maybe have never heard before and then look them up in a dictionary and write down their definitions. If you don’t want to go to all of the trouble of getting your own notebook (makes you feel like a student again, huh?) then just copy the words and definitions down on the blank pages at the end of this book. Darn! Now you have to go get a pencil…and then try not to lose it! See the great difficulties that our young students face in school? But if you do it you WILL learn something and gain some Knowledge in the doing…and Knowledge IS power, especially word knowledge. The more vocabulary you learn, the more you will understand what people are saying. Increasing your vocabulary is almost like learning a foreign language. In fact for many of my students over the years studying a foreign language in school was easier for them than studying English! Go figure!

Mr. Picone’s recommended Collection of

Big Ass Words for College

In any language, words are important. No matter what language you speak, increasing your vocabulary within that language will increase your intelligence, your knowledge and your ability to communicate. Building a large vocabulary is like acquiring a large circle of friends. The more people you know the more opportunities you have to make connections in life that will enhance your ability to influence others and for others to influence you. It works the same with words. As more and more words become available to you, your ability to access knowledge will increase as will your ability to understand what others have already learned and have written down for you to read and absorb. And you’ll look sound and actually be smarter!

One day in class my students were copying the weekly vocabulary list into their notebooks when a student sighed and remarked, “Man, these are some big-ass words!”

So here is your opportunity to begin your own personal dictionary of big-ass words for your own enjoyment, enrichment and edification. This is the fundamental lesson about education. It’s all about the student! If you want to learn you will learn. Teachers are facilitators who tell you the information you need to know or who can show you where to find it and who can help you to process it and find meaning in it but they can’t remember it for you and they can’t pay attention for you and they can’t listen for you. Education is all about being a good STUDENT.

So…If you are not familiar with a word that then write it down and look for its definition. (No need to go crazy, usually a single word synonym will do) Do whatever it takes to help you understand the word’s meaning and be able to make it one of your new big-assed best friends. If making new friends is not your thing, well then, just keep on reading…but just in case, look at it this way; What if you don’t like what I have to say? If you’re going to take the time to read this book then why not come out at the end smarter than you were when you started?


When Will We Ever Learn? This is What Works!

16 Aug

We all have to learn. We aren’t born with the knowledge of anything. Babies can’t walk, talk, feed themselves, find shelter or make clothes and they have no innate knowledge of how to do these things. They have no ideas about what a number system is or that using symbols to communicate in writing would be a good idea. They have absolutely no knowledge of who god or their creator might be or look like and they wouldn’t know what to call him or her if they saw them. Babies don’t even know their ass-terisks from their elbows.

So the question is; what do humans rely on the most when it comes to growing and learning; Is it nature or nurture? Nurture is the effect the people in your life had on you as you were growing up. An example would be the values your parents taught you. Nature is the genetics you received from your ancestors, like hair and eye color. And of course the answer is both! And so your life begins with your very own various and sundry combination of nurture vs. nature and you get ready to rumble. But remember! You can’t get yourself ready. You’re just a baby! Ah, there’s the rub! It’s those first few formative years that are so important. You can’t do anything to take care of yourself until you learn from someone HOW to take care of yourself. You see, it’s all about being taught! It’s all about teaching!

Now, assuming you came out of the womb with positive nature stats and all systems are go then it’s entirely up to Nurture during those early years, and hopefully mom and dad popped the champagne at birth not conception! Nurture provides for so many variables that by the time you are ready for school at around age 4 or 5 the combinations for your potential success or failure are astronomical! And you, the baby, won’t have any idea how well you are being nurtured. What’s your earliest memory? Are you age 2? 3? What the heck was going on before then?

Every child has to be taught how to do whatever it is they will be doing as an adult. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, baker, candlestick maker, thief; somebody gave them instructions on how to do what they do or at least led by example so the child could pay attention and learn by observation (which is teaching too!) The reality is that all of us have to be taught something at sometime by somebody.

Yes, it all begins with good Nature and that’s up to your parents (and ancestors), but once you’re born it’s all Nurture, baby, Nurture, because let’s face it once you’re born your parents are responsible for whatever Nature you’ll be exposed to and that’s all part of Nurturing too, right? So you see, it’s all about Nurture. And Nurture means parenting! And parenting means teaching! And so teaching is what everyone does!  “People of the world! Yes, you are a teacher too!”

What you are about to read is not conjecture. It is what careful research and human observation has discovered to be true when it comes to the developmental success of young human beings, namely, our children. In the 1980’s United States president, Ronald Reagan, (and who doesn’t love President Reagan?) directed a special presidential commission to once and for all determine what it is that makes students successful learners in the home and in the classroom. This is what they discovered. It wasn’t a secret. In fact it was common, time tested, human knowledge: Now condensed for your reading pleasure and self edification.



Repeat after me: This is WHAT WORKS WITH CHILDREN.

Now Read!

  1. Talk to your children. Have discussions with your children and listen to what they have to say. It’s called conversation.
  2. Read to your children and encourage your children to read on their own. In order for children to become literate, they must have literate parents. One’s ability to read at or above age and grade level and one’s success in school are so directly linked that they are in fact the same thing!
  3. Count things with your children. Use numbers and counting to have fun. Add! Multiply! Life is math. (Get it?)
  4. Let children draw and scribble and create stories. Encourage them. Use all the crayon colors! (don’t forget to count them and read their names)
  5. Nurture their talent. Get involved in and observe your child’s activities. What excites them? What draws their attention and makes them want to learn? Help them pursue their natural abilities.
  6. Emphasize the importance of hard work and responsibility. Work hard and take responsibility for your actions in front of your children.
  7. Get involved with your children’s school and teachers. Go to “Back to school night”. Meet the teachers. Show you care.
  8. Phonics! Don’t just teach your children the sounds that animals make… Teach your children the sounds that letters make too!.. And how we blend those sounds together to make other sounds and words and sentences and language.
  9. Storytelling. Encourage your children to use their imagination. Fairytales and cultural or family legends are a great place to start. Imagine that!
  10. Encourage your children to get involved in extra curricular activities that complement, not replace, academic studies.

Parents of the Earth, This is WHAT WORKS. Now do! Just follow this simple outline, treat your children with the utmost care and for God’s sake protect their heads and put their helmets on!

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