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viewpoint

How to tell someone you love them

| Thursday, April 7, 2016

Starting in 2012, most of the United States adopted the Common Core State Standards. CCSS, or the Common Core, as it’s commonly (pun totally intended) called is a set of educational standards, or learning targets, that aim to ensure all students have the same expectations and opportunities. They’re rather controversial and misunderstood, and I’m not going to put myself in the middle of that debate right now. Because I’m an optimist, I’m going to focus on the good parts of the CCSS.

One of the differences between CCSS and previous education standards is the focus on literacy and English language arts, including speaking and listening. My heart soared when I first read that CCSS places emphasis on speaking and listening, because I have always been a strong proponent of encouraging oral and aural skills in the classroom. Plus, now I can tell future job interviewers that both my lesson plans and educational philosophy are Common Core-aligned.

I love the inclusion of speaking and listening skills because speaking and listening are essential parts of communication that are often left out of classrooms. Students spend a lot of their days listening to teachers, reading books, worksheets or other media, and writing down what teachers say, with occasional chances to write what they think as well. In some classrooms, a student is more likely to speak out of turn and be reprimanded than to have a chance to talk about their own thoughts.

Students coming from classrooms that emphasize speaking and listening skills will — hopefully — be more prepared for colleges, careers, and the world. A student who has learned how to speak clearly and eloquently will be much more effective at selling their team’s pitch in a meeting than someone who stares at the floor and doesn’t give evidence. Similarly, I would feel much safer at night knowing that members of our military can listen attentively to verbal instructions and follow through accordingly, rather than listening passively or immediately planning what they’ll say next.

But outside of the world of CCSS and the goals of college and career readiness, I like the emphasis on speaking and listening for my students’ personal lives. Quite simply, I want my future students to be good, respectable, happy people outside of their working lives too, and I think this section of CCSS can help ensure that. Let’s do an example of how good speaking skills, as defined by CCSS, can help someone in their personal life, shall we?

According to the CCSS, 8th grade students will be able to, “present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent, manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.”

Let’s say that we want to tell someone that you love them. For this example, I’ll use my good friend Mary. Now, I could walk up to Mary, stare at my shoes, and mumble, “Ilovoo.” If she was able to hear what I said, despite my unclear pronunciation and downward trajectory of my sound waves, she might appreciate it. However, she would appreciate it a lot more if I looked at her, smiled and made sure that exactly what I said was clear, so that we both are absolutely sure that I love her.

But let’s say that I want to make Mary’s day by letting her know that I really, really love her. According to the CCSS, I should present my claims clearly and using good evidence. Instead of just saying, “I love you,” to really make her day, I should tell her why I love her. I should say things like:

“Mary, I love you because we have the same taste in music and love to listen to 70s rock and 80s punk vinyl together.”

“Mary, I love you because you’re a talented artist whose works make other people happy and comforted.”

“Mary, I love you because, despite your incredible talent in art, you still take the time to do little projects with me, like designing my French tutoring posters or painting Christmas presents for my friends and family.”

“Mary, I love you because when we order Chinese food and I ask, ‘Is it okay if I get eggrolls?,’ you say, ‘It’s not okay if you don’t get eggrolls.’”

“Mary, I love you because when I sing, ‘Dark-ness,’ you immediately respond with, ‘No par-ents.’”

“Mary, I love you because when it started snowing the other day, you texted me and asked me if I had an electric blanket to go put on the flower beds to make sure that the new spring flowers didn’t freeze and die.”

And according to my sound valid reasoning, this is a type of person worth loving.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Courtney Phelan

Courtney Phelan is a junior English major living in Le Mans Hall. She can be contacted at cphela01@saintmarys.edu

Contact Courtney