Serving students and faculty since 1971

Yes, Ladies and gentlemen, the “P” word. Who knew uttering its three syllables in mixed company could evoke such a myriad of responses, from fear and loathing to inspiration and admiration, this it seems, is one powerful word. And although I indulge in its use, let’s face it, I’m not Shakespeare, nor can I channel Wordsworth or Longfellow, and on occasion I do indulge in Silverstein and Prelutsky, but that’s the beauty of this often maligned and misunderstood genre! It can offer insight, provoke thoughts and feelings, and yes, even coax a laugh or two.

Being someone who appreciates the fact words are powerful, and that knowledge and use of them in turn increases our own linguistic prowess, why is it, that unless I am with the staunchest of reading and writing aficionados, this word can bring on rolled eyes, sagging shoulders, a glazed affect, and eventually excuses to make a hasty retreat? It seems to all come down to the E-I-E-I-O Principal. When Ethos and Inexperience are met with Exposure, Information, and Opportunity, it can lead to great accomplishments within any attempted venue. The basic tenets of this principle though, have at many times been negatively exacted on students, via the requirements of memorization and recitation. When this is done, previous to a solid foundation of exposure, information, and opportunity, it can incite panic and repulsion. I’ve grumbled yet acquiesced, for my own grade’s sake, when handed such a requirement, which doesn’t fully stay with me after recitation, but the few lines I can readily recall are from separate works and authors:

“…I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea…”

“Of living creatures most I prize
Black spotted yellow butterflies…”

“Allison Beals had twenty-five eels-
She used four for skateboard wheels…”

I’ll leave them here for you to puzzle over, and with the depth and swiftness of technology today, I’ve no doubt you’ll quickly figure them out. I also encourage you to take advantage of the days left in April, a month devoted to the “P” word in all its forms, and the opportunities filled with exposure and information that are available, to thereby initiate the hopeful demise of the negative connotations this word may have left with you and those around you.