My daughter, in Grade 5, 10 1/2 years old, has a creative teacher whose experiential teaching background (think LAUSD meets Outward Bound) comes up with all sorts of inventive ways to challenge the kids forward. One of the exercises (pre-pre SAT prep, really) is looking at word derivations and roots. He’s using word roots so the kids get an understanding of vocubulary construction.
Our Friday morning drive to school includes me quizzing her on her words, since Friday is test day and a chance to win stars. Enough stars and you can cash them in for anything from a prize from his secret goodie box, up to being teacher for a day. So my daughter, who likes the idea of being in charge (wonder who she gets that from…) is very motivated to get her 60 stars and be teacher for a day. I say the words, my daughter tells me the meaning. This past week was about walking and stepping. In-gress. E-gress. Di-gress. Con-gress.
Being somewhat politically astute, “congress” caught my attention and hit my sarcasm bone, which used to be a funny bone until about mid-2009. It’s word roots are “con” meaning “together” and “gradi” meaning “walk or step”. Congress literally means “together step”. When you think of the US Congress, the idea is that together, the two bodies — the House and the Senate — step our country forward.
However, when you look at the past couple of years, in fact, it might, should, perhaps be renamed Digress. Or “away step”. No?