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The Words We Use
A Guest Post for The Table
This is part of a series of guest posts featuring local writers. This post is written by Kirk Robbins, Educator. This article was originally published in Science for All.
I think a lot about the words we use in our daily lives and how those words have power. Those words shape us…they shape our thoughts and the way we view the world. I remember a few years ago listening to an interview with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and he was talking a lot about “the words we use” in terms of coaching and positivity and achieving goals. I was already a word person but somehow hearing a leader and coach discuss how they are intentional about the words that are used and how those words have power was very influential to me.
I find myself in several different educational spaces- from school buildings, to colleges, to district offices, to K-12 classrooms. I’m a constant observer of the words and how those words do or do not align with the work of the given space. I see mission statements and posters that are designed to convince someone about the work that happens in the space. But as a scientist I’m always a bit skeptical. Let the mission statement live in the work…let it be obvious and unavoidable through the work and the people and the place.
IT’S A FOOD BANK
My wife is the CEO at our local food bank- The Market at the Bonney Lake Food Bank. This Sunday she needed to do a quick repair on a watering system on some vegetable gardens that are in front of the food bank. I tagged along and while she was working I started thinking about the words that are interspersed throughout the indoor and outdoor spaces. I got out my phone and started capturing images.
In science education we are promoting the use of phenomena to anchor our science lessons. A phenomenon can be thought of something observable that is “begging for explanation”. A rainbow, or a landslide, or a tree growing from a small seed to a giant living thing could all be thought of as phenomena. Phenomena can also be human designed…and the designed space at the Market is definitely phenomenal.
So here are some of the pictures I gathered at The Market. I invite you to consider the key questions that we use with students when first engaging with a phenomenon. Feel free to leave your responses in the comments below. Remember- this is a food bank.
What do you notice?
What do you wonder?
So, what do you think? What did you notice about this space? What questions do you have about it? There is no posted mission statement in these images- but what do you think the mission statement at the Market might be? Can you predict?
All of these images are devoid of people so that we can focus on the space itself- on the intentionality of the design. What do you think this space might feel like when it is filled with customers, and staff, and volunteers? What would you hear? What would you see? If you want to dig a little deeper into the work at The Market you can click HERE.
For the last three years I’ve been using The Market as a model to think about how a designed space can create a sense of belonging. How a space can be a catalyst for change. I work in the field of education and I often wonder what a school might look like where every student…each individual student might walk in and feel a tangible sense of belonging. What words might they see? What images? What would the people working within the space be like? How might the people working in the space greet and treat the students, and families, and community? Would it be a space filled with rules and a focus on control? Or might it be something else?