Some words that I like, and some that I don’t

Dennis Sparks

I like the word teach. Teaching is about supporting the development of other human beings no matter their age.

I don’t like the word present or presentation—although I know they have their place—because they often casts potential learners as an audience, among other reasons. I like the word profess even less, for obvious reasons.

I like the words learn and educate for the reasons I like the word teach.

I don’t like the word train, although I do understand that it is the appropriate process when skill development is the primary objective.

I particularly don’t like the word training when paired with the word teacher, as in “teacher training.” While some classroom management and instructional skills require training, the complex, nuanced interpersonal process of teaching benefits from the development of higher-order cognitive skills that inform professional judgment.

I like the word conversation. It can include interactions as diverse as dialogue and negotiations.

I don’t like the word argue. A definition of arguing that I often use is, “Two senders and no receivers.”

I like the word intention and a related term, create. They bring into the world that which otherwise would not exist and enable a sense of efficacy. I do not like the word compliance because it destroys intention, creation, and efficacy.

I like the paired words of community and individual. Community because together we can accomplish things we can’t alone and because communities help temper the excesses of individualism. Individual because it is recognizes the talents and perspectives of all community members and the mutual respect that communities require to be fully functioning.

Please comment: What terms do you like and dislike, and why?

3 Responses to “Some words that I like, and some that I don’t”


  1. 1 LLmazdarx71987 January 24, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I dislike the term “empower”, since it infers “I am giving you power”; to me this then implies I have power over you and I decide when to give it.

  2. 2 Dennis Sparks January 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I was taking a long walk when I received your thoughtful comment, so I had some time to mull it over before responding. I appreciate your concern about the meaning of the term empowerment that you mentioned. So I settled on the term “voice” as a close synonym to see what would happen if I came at it from a different angle. While I cannot give others their voice, I can create conditions through which they can explore their values, clarify their intentions, and determine what actions they might take on behalf of their values and intentions. Through such a process individuals may find a source of power within that was previously unknown to them. I have been thinking out loud here, so to speak, and I am interested in the views of other readers on this subject.

    • 3 LLmazdarx71987 January 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Voice it is then – much better. Thank you Dennis, and I think V-I-A- is a better angle too, so that people have opportunites to dig into their Values – Intentions – Actions. But then we have to be careful that “opportunites” does not become “here is a job for you that I don’t want to do”. I really like the notion of people finding a power within, because sometimes that is exactly what it feels like. The ability to light this fire, or inspire people to take the risk to experience this, is something I continue to strive to improve in myself.


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