It's amazing how much trouble a little talk can cause! Students regularly get into spats over what somebody else is saying about them. Of course, they always feel completely justified about what they say about others! Here's one of my favorite questions to ask students on the issue: If what you're saying about somebody else is true, does that mean it's not gossip? Gossip is talking to someone about someone else. True or not! Have you talked to your students about gossip? Ephesians 4:29 says: "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."
I found this article and I thought I'd pass it on:
There are Better Things to Talk About Than Other People (and How to Gossip Less)WRITTEN by JOSHUA BECKER · 77 COMMENTS
“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself.” ―Marcus Aurelius
An old proverb tells the story of a person who repeated a rumor about a neighbor. Soon, the whole community had heard the rumor. Later, the person who spread the gossip learned that the rumor was untrue. He was very sorry and went to an elder in the community who had a reputation for great wisdom to seek advice. The elder told him, “Go to your home and take a feather pillow outside. Rip it open and scatter the feathers, then return to me tomorrow.” The man did as the elder had instructed.
The following day, he visited the elder. The elder said, “Go collect the feathers you scattered yesterday and bring them back to me.” The man went home and searched for the feathers, but the wind had carried them all away. Returning to the elder, he admitted, “I could find none of the feathers I scattered yesterday.” “You see,” said the elder, “it‘s easy to scatter the feathers but impossible to get them back.” So it is with gossip; it doesn’t take much to spread hurtful words, but once you do, you can never completely undo the damage.
Quickly defined, gossip is talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature. And there are far better things to talk about than the sensational, intimate details of another.
Gossip almost always complicates our lives rather than simplifies. Unfortunately, gossip feels good and the short-term rewards often distract us from the fact that we know better. It makes us feel better about ourselves to know something about someone else and share that with another. Other times, speaking about the personal faults of others makes it easier to overlook our own.
Even under the best of motives, gossip almost always does damage to the relationship that we can never completely undo. Consider some of these life-complicating dangers of gossip:
1. Appreciate the difference between “helpful” and “gossip.”There are times in life when it is genuinely helpful for you to know the personal background or personal details of a friend‘s life. But if someone begins sharing intimate details of another‘s life and you are in no position to help (or have no intention to help), it is not helpful speech. It is gossip. And will only lead to disaster.
2. Stop it before it starts.If your conversation begins to turn toward gossip, take the high road and end it. A simple sentence that goes like this, “I‘m not sure I‘m in a good position to be having this conversation,” quickly shifts the focus to yourself while communicating your point to your partner.
3. Engage in meaningful conversations about the people around you.There is a 100% chance that you have not fully explored the deepest places of the heart and life sitting right in front of you. Rather than engaging in conversation about someone else, choose to ask deeper questions about the hopes, dreams, and fears of the people who are present.
4. Avoid the two greatest causes of gossip: pride and self-exaltation.Gossip makes us feel better about ourselves because we get to revel in the fact that other people have problems too. This is especially gratifying when their problems are seen as more severe than our own. It is selfish pride and a need for self-exaltation that results in that mindset.
5. Stay positive with your speech.Use positive words as much as possible – even when talking about another. Speaking positively about a person who is not present rarely leads to gossip and almost always leads to a closer ally. This positive speech will also encourage the people around you to do the same.
6. Celebrity gossip is still gossip.Remember, just because they appear on magazine covers does not make their personal secrets fair game as a conversation topic. Gossip can appear on the pages of a magazine just as easily as it can during a conversation in your living room.
Is it just me or does it seem that with all the things that we could choose to talk about on any given day… the intimate details of another person’s life should be lower on the list than it usually is?
There has been an idea kicking around in my head for a couple of years. I have considered creating a curriculum for a class tentatively titled: “Christians at the Movies.” I’ve been of two minds about it though. I really think movies are time wasters. I think most Christians would be better off (and certainly none the worse) if they never watched another movie. Me telling this to students would be like . . . well, me telling it to my computer. My computer will dutifully record my words but otherwise be unaffected. Secondly, there’s the fact that I’ve been known to waste a little time with a movie or two myself.
So I thought, how best can a high school Bible teacher (which I was at the time) help his students make wise choices about movies and come out the other side of an hour and a half in a movie theater not just surviving, but possibly being better for it.
I discovered that students are for the most part noncritical about movies. They watch passively. They don’t question. They don’t ask what the filmmaker’s purpose is. What is the message behind the message? As I began to explore this idea with my students, I realized they were unaware that movies could even be used as a vehicle to promote hidden (or not so hidden) agendas. George Lucas wanted to create a new mythology based on Buddhist thought. This is what the force is in the Star Wars series. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is steeped in Christian symbolism (so much that if the writer and director of the films had wanted to remove it from their screenplays, they wouldn’t have been making the Lord of the Rings.)
As I walked through this process of analyzing movies with different classes, I discovered something about the students: They loved the discussions. They loved dissecting plot lines and looking for hidden elements. They loved discussing (and often disagreeing) on the true meaning behind a movie. I can remember a pretty epic battle over whether the last five minutes of The Book of Eli completely changes the meaning of the movie.
Students discovered something else. Once they had opened the box, it couldn’t be closed. As one student put it, “Thanks for ruining movies for me Mr. Bray.” He went on to tell me how horrible his experience had been watching the animated flick Rio. “Mr. Bray, the whole movie was one long propaganda piece on feminism.” I haven’t seen the movie, but I wish I had a video of his reaction. He was not a passive recipient of the movie’s message. He was engaged and critical.
We conform to our culture. It is inescapable. But we can face our culture armed with tools that will help us recognize the ways in which our culture subverts and attacks (or reinforces) our fundamental beliefs.
I really thought about posting this without comment. I couldn’t. It is so leftist, when she started talking about her own experience I thought the whole thing was a spoof! Of all the collectivist, socialistic . . . . .Hmph.
If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person
By Allison Benedikt|Posted Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, at 5:50 AM
You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murdererbad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.
I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)
So, how would this work exactly? It’s simple! Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment. Your local school stinks but you don’t send your child there? Then its badness is just something you deplore in the abstract. Your local school stinks and you do send your child there? I bet you are going to do everything within your power to make it better.
And parents have a lot of power. In many underresourced schools, it’s the aggressive PTAs that raise the money for enrichment programs and willful parents who get in the administration’s face when a teacher is falling down on the job. Everyone, all in. (By the way: Banning private schools isn’t the answer. We need a moral adjustment, not a legislative one.)
There are a lot of reasons why bad people send their kids to private school. Yes, some do it for prestige or out of loyalty to a long-standing family tradition or because they want their children to eventually work at Slate. But many others go private for religious reasons, or because their kids have behavioral or learning issues, or simply because the public school in their district is not so hot. None of these are compelling reasons. Or, rather, the compelling ones (behavioral or learning issues, wanting a not-subpar school for your child) are exactly why we should all opt in, not out.
I believe in public education, but my district school really isn’t good! you might say. I understand. You want the best for your child, but your child doesn’t need it. If you can afford private school (even if affording means scrimping and saving, or taking out loans), chances are that your spawn will be perfectly fine at a crappy public school. She will have support at home (that’s you!) and all the advantages that go along with being a person whose family can pay for and cares about superior education—the exact kind of family that can help your crappy public school become less crappy. She may not learn as much or be as challenged, but take a deep breath and live with that. Oh, but she’s gifted? Well, then, she’ll really be fine.
I went K–12 to a terrible public school. My high school didn’t offer AP classes, and in four years, I only had to read one book. There wasn’t even soccer. This is not a humblebrag! I left home woefully unprepared for college, and without that preparation, I left college without having learned much there either. You know all those important novels that everyone’s read? I haven’t. I know nothing about poetry, very little about art, and please don’t quiz me on the dates of the Civil War. I’m not proud of my ignorance. But guess what the horrible result is? I’m doing fine. I’m not saying it’s a good thing that I got a lame education. I’m saying that I survived it, and so will your child, who must endure having no AP calculus so that in 25 years there will be AP calculus for all.
By the way: My parents didn’t send me to this shoddy school because they believed in public ed. They sent me there because that’s where we lived, and they weren’t too worried about it. (Can you imagine?) Take two things from this on your quest to become a better person: 1) Your child will probably do just fine without “the best,” so don’t freak out too much, but 2) do freak out a little more than my parents did—enough to get involved.
Also remember that there’s more to education than what’s taught. As rotten as my school’s English, history, science, social studies, math, art, music, and language programs were, going to school with poor kids and rich kids, black kids and brown kids, smart kids and not-so-smart ones, kids with superconservative Christian parents and other upper-middle-class Jews like me was its own education and life preparation. Reading Walt Whitman in ninth grade changed the way you see the world? Well, getting drunk before basketball games with kids who lived at the trailer park near my house did the same for me. In fact it’s part of the reason I feel so strongly about public schools.
Many of my (morally bankrupt) colleagues send their children to private schools. I asked them to tell me why. Here is the response that most stuck with me: “In our upper-middle-class world, it is hard not to pay for something if you can and you think it will be good for your kid.” I get it: You want an exceptional arts program and computer animation and maybe even Mandarin. You want a cohesive educational philosophy. You want creativity, not teaching to the test. You want great outdoor space and small classrooms and personal attention. You know who else wants those things? Everyone.
Whatever you think your children need—deserve—from their school experience, assume that the parents at the nearby public housing complex want the same. No, don’t just assume it. Do something about it. Send your kids to school with their kids. Use the energy you have otherwise directed at fighting to get your daughter a slot at the competitive private school to fight for more computers at the public school. Use your connections to power and money and innovation to make your local school—the one you are now sending your child to—better. Don’t just acknowledge your liberal guilt—listen to it.