“Dreamers dream about things being different.

Visionaries envision themselves making a difference.”

–Andy Stanley

As I reflect on why I became a teacher, the idea of “making a difference” often comes up. After all, isn’t that why most teachers go into the field of education? Although I never really struggled to learn, I didn’t like school. Everything seemed so compartmentalized, and we all know that learning and life aren’t compartmentalized. So, I entered the teaching profession with the goal of helping students understand, not just memorize random facts that seemed unconnected.  

I’ve always wanted to know WHY. As a child, one of my favorite books was a question and answer book. Nonfiction reading has always been my favorite kind of reading. Seeking to understand has always been the driving force behind my reading, even as a reading specialist.

These days seeking to better understand the English language has become one of my pursuits, and in this pursuit of understanding (“to stand in the midst of”—another blog post for another day) I am amazed at what I am finding. I am amazed at the understandings my clients (clients that typically struggle with reading, spelling, and writing) are bringing to light with me and for me.  

On a typical dreary winter day in Portland, one of my brilliant clients wondered if the words <current> and <currency> could be related. I pondered for a moment, thinking about those two words, and I stated I didn’t think so. (As one of my instructors would say, just because it looks the same doesn’t mean it is the same.) However, since I’ve been on this language learning journey, I’m realizing that there is much I don’t truly understand about the English language, so my student and I looked into the etymology of this word. The fact is they are related!  

The word <current> is derived from the Latin currere. (When pulling currere into English, we drop off the ere, which leaves us with curr—that’s a whole other topic for exploration.) Currere has the denotation of “to run, move quickly,” which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *kers- “to run.”

In the 1650s, the word <currency> came to be known as “condition of flowing.” Are you seeing the connection? If we follow this on back, we find <currency> comes from the Latin currere, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *kers- “to run.” Who would have thought? My brilliant client noticed the connection I didn’t see right before my eyes.

The words <current> and <currency> share a historical root. However, not only do they share a historical root with the denotation “to run,” they have a common orthography (spelling). In fact, when we investigate this deeper, we see we can find many related words. Below is NOT a comprehensive list by any means (hmmm…com + pre + hense + ive … could that be related to com + pre + hend?), but rather a sampling of words related in spelling and meaning to <current> and <currency>: 

cur + ence + y —> currency

*The suffixing rule of doubling the <r> in <cur> is applied here, and the suffixing rule of replacing the single, final, non-syllabic <e> is also applied to arrive at our current English spelling for <currency>.

 cur + ent —> current*

 cur + ent + ly —> currently* 

in + cur —> incur

oc + cur —> occur

cur + ic + ule + a —> curricula*

cur + ic + ule + ar —> curricular*

cur + ic +ule +um —> curriculum*

Hmm…curriculum? What is a curriculum? Is that the thing that too often teachers are bound to even when it’s not meeting the needs of the student before them? Is that the thing that teachers too often feel is pushing faster than some of their students are able to move ? Take a look at this entry from a Google search for the meaning for <curriculum>, and make sure you click on “Translations, word origin, and more definitions” to see the history of this word. If you aren’t seeing the connection, click on <curricle>.

As educators, as parents, and as students, I’m sure we have different thoughts and emotions that arise as we think on different curriculums we’ve either used or been instructed in. I’ll leave that for you to reflect on for yourself.

As I wrap up, let me share a visual that one of my brilliant clients, Logan, created after just a few sessions of investigating words more deeply. Can you see from this visual that he understands the meaning of <vise> and its twin base <vide> (i.e., “to see”)? Can you see the many different words we can write and read based on these two base elements? Can you see the connection in meaning and spelling in these words? My “struggling” clients can see all of these things. Not only do they see these things, but they are helping me to better see the connections in the language I’ve spoken for over 50 years and have taught others about for over 25 years. I’m thankful that our English spelling is much more evident (e + vide/ + ent —> evident) than I’ve noticed, and I’m thankful that my vision (vise/ + ion —> vision) is becoming clearer the more I learn with and from my brilliant clients.

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