Over the half term, I got a new book: Fun Science by Charlie McDonnell. I’d been looking forward to this book for ages as I’ve watched Charlie on YouTube for a long time and really enjoyed his Fun Science videos. The book is great and highly recommended! I was reminded of this video Charlie made back in 2011 explaining the science of sound:
Charlie’s song discusses speech, and begins with the line “it starts with an idea, or an impulse to make a sound.” It is the gap between the idea and the sound that I want to concentrate on – when the idea to say something has formed, there is a choice about whether we should give that idea voice. There’s a useful mnemonic to help us make that decision:
In my view, if what you are about to say does not pass one of those five tests, you should think twice before saying it. Once something is said, it is possible to apologise and try to make amends, but it is never possible to take it back.
To demonstrate this principle in assembly, we did a little Fun Science of our own. A willing volunteer from the audience donned the important safety equipment, before attempting to squirt all the toothpaste out of a tube as quickly as possible (Hanover were the best at this, with a time of 9.08 seconds). The second part of the experiment saw the volunteers try to put the toothpaste back into the tube. This proved much more difficult.
The experiment was designed to show that squeezing the toothpaste is like blurting something out without thinking about it. It’s easy to do – the work of a moment – and actually feels pretty good in that moment! But once it’s out, there’s no putting it back, and any attempt to do so actually creates a worse mess than you started with.
It’s also important to think about the way we “speak” online. Mrs McKay has already spoken to students this year about the importance of e-safety, but we often see how people “say” things online they would never say in person.
The difference between speech and posting online, of course, is that there is a permanent record of what you have “said.” Even on services like Snapchat, where the message expires, screencaps can still be taken – and the impact of the communication is permanent. When confronted with the things they’ve put on social media, for example, people will often say “I didn’t think…” If what you’re about to say – whether in person or online – doesn’t pass the THINK test, then think twice.
Of course if we have the opportunity to say something that is true, that is helpful, that is inspiring, that is necessary, that is kind, we should take that opportunity. Because, although our words can cause damage, they can also make someone’s day immeasurably better. And by choosing to say that truthful, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind thing, we add to the sum of positives in our community, and make everyone that little bit better.
Our words make a difference. Let’s make a positive difference.
COULD mortal lip divine
The undeveloped freight
Of a delivered syllable,
’T would crumble with the weight.