Practical wisdom “is the ability to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.”
Back in the 90’s a first grade teacher shared something with me that until that time I had not considered. She was going to be my daughter’s first grade teacher. I asked her how I could help her in the classroom. She surprised me when she told me she wanted me to help her young Spanish-speaking children learn the words for things like swing, tree, sidewalk, playground, spoon, fork, plate, chair …
She explained to me that it was more difficult for her to teach them how to read words that they didn’t speak. This would lighten the load on her, big time.
Most of these children were the children of migrant workers who worked from sun-up to sun-down on the surrounding area’s big farms. Their parents often had one to two hour commutes to these farms, so they were away from home until very late at night.
Add to this that they didn’t speak English, and the children weren’t learning the names of things in their world.
They had little to zero oral vocabulary. (In English or Spanish)
I wondered about that. She said they gestured toward whatever they were talking about, and would say, “That thing.” Everything was a thing.
This was huge to me.
I realized that 6 years olds coming into first grade didn’t have the oral vocabulary to talk about their experience in the playground, the lunch room, the classroom. I tried to imagine what that must have felt like to these children. It’s easy to take for granted the words we know, without even thinking about it.
That summer, we moved, so I wasn’t able to help the children in her class. But that experience, that lesson learned, has stayed with me over the years.
For a time, I volunteered with Laubach Literacy, helping an intelligent young woman learn how to read. I experienced the same with her. I discovered I needed to change the words I used so she could understand me. We bumped into this problem almost every lesson. It was as often a vocabulary lesson as well as a reading lesson.
I still have fond memories of when she discovered the word, tenacity. It’s one of my favorite words. I’ve been called stubborn most of my life. When I discovered the word, tenacity, in my twenties, I started reframing the label, from “stubborn”, to “tenacity”.
(Side note: I’ve learned from personal observation, over the years, that hidden within our greatest weakness is our greatest strengths, and embedded in our greatest strengths lie our weaknesses. They are most often two sides of the same coin. Reciprocals, or compliments of each other. With this awareness I learned to translate, reframe, or transmute, negatives into positives. You can, too).
There’s power in being able to define or name something.
This ability opens up our world. I watched this clip of Helen Keller last night.
Learning words, the names of what she experienced, opened her world. Helped her connect to the outside world.
We’re doing something similar in the positive twist on the Franklin Makeover. The positive twist is important. We catch ourselves and others in a positive expression of the virtue of the week.
My first week’s virtue was “specialized knowledge”.
I had not observed the world through this lens before. It was eye-opening. I discovered that virtually everything we touch, interact with, share, hinges on “specialized knowledge.” I became aware of “specialized knowledge” permeating my environment to the point that I didn’t have enough space in my square to put all the dots for how much I noticed this.
Last week was kindness, and we did this virtue, together, as a group, the whole Mastermind. Extra-ordinarily powerful. Kindness is like the ignition switch to the virtue engine. It sparks the fuel that runs the being.
Kindness in words creates confidence, kindness in thinking creates profoundness, kindness in feeling creates love. ~ Lao Tzu
This week the virtue I’m focusing on is decisiveness. And I had an interesting insight. Because I had focused earlier on “specialized knowledge”, I’ve connected the relationship of decisiveness to that earlier virtue. Everything I touch, everything I see, triggers an awareness of decisiveness. Because embedded within specialized knowledge is a lot of decisions.
Of course, I’m hearing the word more, too. And seeing decisiveness in others.
I’ve done this experiment with colors and shapes in the past. As as a mastermind, we’ve done this, too.
The lens of our focus filters our experience of the world. It determines what comes to the front of our mind, what we notice or perceive.
What we focus on grows.
This is an adage, not a platitude. Distilled wisdom of the ages.
The ancient sages often called practical wisdom the mother virtue. I grew up with Edgar Cayce’s definition of wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge applied. For me, practical spiritually and practical wisdom are essentially the same.
The MKMMA is a space where we help our selves and each other learn to live knowledge into wisdom.
What a beautiful gift we give our selves and each other.
For any one more interested in learning about Literacy training:
I love this You Tube video because it helps me better understand what it’s like for people learning how read as an adult. One young woman talks about using a vocabulary they can understand. (@ 19:02)
In 2002, Laubach Literacy International and Literacy Volunteers of America, two of the world’s oldest and largest adult literacy organizations, merged to create ProLiteracy.
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