TITLE: Name It
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: January 03, 2005 11:56 AM
DESC: Giving something a name confers new meaning on the thing. Knowing something's name gives power to the knower.
Happy New Year!
I've run into the same idea twice in the last couple of
weeks, in two different guises. I take that as a hint
from the universe that I should be thinking about this
as I prepare for the upcoming semester. The idea is:
First, at a public event during Advent, a friend was
talking about how to raise strong, self-aware children.
She said, "You know when your children do something
good. Name it for them." Children should
know that what they are doing has a name. Names are
powerful for thinking and for communication. When an
act has a name, the act *means* something.
Then I was ran across a column by
that comes at the issue from the other side, from
where our feeling doesn't seem as good. The article
Naming Our Restlessness
and talks about how he felt after entering his
religious order as a young man of 17. He was
restless and wondered if that was a sign that he
should be doing something else. But then someone
told him that he was merely restless.
His simple, honest naming of what we were feeling
introduced us to ourselves. We were still restless,
but now we felt better, normal, and healthy again. A
symptom suffers less when it knows where it belongs.
Often, people can better accept their condition
when it has a name. Knowing that what they
feel is normal, normal enough to have a name and be
a part of the normal conversation, frees a person
from the fear of not knowing what's wrong with them.
Sometimes, there's nothing wrong with you! And even
when there is, when the name tells us that something
horrible is wrong, even then a name carries great
power. Now we know what is wrong. If there is
something we can do to fix the problem, we have to
know what the problem is. And even when there is
nothing we can do to fix the problem, yes, even
then, a name can bring peace. "Now I know."
What does this mean for teaching? Name when students
do something good. If they discover a pattern, tell
them the name. When they adopt a practice that makes
them better programmers, tell them the name of the
practice. If they do something that isn't so good,
or when they are uneasy about something in the course,
name that, too, so that they can go about the business
of figuring out what to do next. And help them
figure it out!
I think this is a sign for me to write some patterns