I'm just so happy to sit here looking at the cover of the 12 Edition of "Language Awareness." Since 1990-something, I have written various teacher's manuals for this book which remains one of the country's best selling books on writing for college courses.
I love this book because through carefully selected and well-written essays from all kinds of authors, Language Awareness considers how language contributes discrimination, gender, power, abuse, hate speech, prejudice, inspiring change, identity, and our understanding of the world.
The reason I have waited until now to gush about the book is because the 12th Edition includes a chapter I helped create and relevant to this blog. The chapter is called "The Language of Conflict: Argument, Apology, and Dignity."
The chapter has a great reading on Dignity by Donna Hicks. Her work is deceptively simple. Up to her eyeballs in conflict-related work, Harvard University Dr. Hicks is wonderful. After spending the morning digging out her car after a huge Boston snowstorm, she spent over two hours on the phone with me helping me think through my research with French Holocaust survivors. Meeting brilliant, committed people who are also kind and generous always blows my hair back.
The Language Awareness team also agreed to include one of my favorite conflict articles of all time: "The Dork Police" from the book Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree. I love this article because it shows how two creative cops played with language on their domestic dispute calls in Cincinnati. For example, instead of saying "What's going on here?" when they entered the couple's home, they would ask a question like, "So what solutions have you thought of between the time of your call and our arrival?" In just a few simple pages you'll watch how they creatively diffuse violence.
They substantially reduced the violence during these most dangerous of police calls by simply changing how they spoke to people, the tone of their voice, and even with their silence. They taught others around Ohio for years...Why don't we use these strategies more?
Maybe we don't need more guns. We need to think more about the resources we have.
If you're teaching a class, studying conflict, or just love language, grab one of these books. There is a reason we have 12 Editions...and if you can't answer the questions at the end of each reading, just send me a note...I have (and often write) the teacher's manuals.