Aug 13, 2022Liked by David Thomson

Great post, David. Such a rich history in your 4 names! I echo your point that our names tell a story and want to add a bit more. Our names are part of our identity, thus when someone opts not to take the effort you describe to know the names of those who you work with or (hopefully not) makes fun of someone's name through mispronunciation or otherwise it can have a deep, undermining impact on that person, their pursuits, and how others see and treat them. I continually have this concern in teaching law because much of traditional legal education is been framed around stripping away what a student knows and replacing it with "thinking like a lawyer". What does that say about how one's story and identity fit into the law? What does that mean for whether and how the law can change and grow?

If learning the law is new to non-traditional and first gen students, then all they have is their story and identity to build on - and we need to reinforce that foundation. The consequences if we do not can be dire.

You are imploring educators on all levels to embrace the story and identity of each and every one of their students. I can think of no better message to start the school year. Thank you.


Expand full comment

Hi David,

I've got a few thoughts:

First, thank you for the shout-out, it's always appreciated and I'm always happy to see a new post by you in my inbox.

Second, and much more importantly, the letter from your grandfather to the town is beautiful. To be remembered so fondly is evidence of a life well-lived.

So, on to names - I'm fascinated by the use of Irish as a name is new to me. Is or was that a common name? Does it come from the country of Ireland or is it a coincidence? I guess it sticks out to me because it's an adjective rather than a noun - using a place name as a person't name isn't all that uncommon, but I'm hard pressed to think of adjective...

As for my own name, Mom had actually planned to name me David! But she worked as an elementary school teacher and had three different Davids in her class while she was pregnant. So she opted for her second favorite biblical name, Joel. She has told me since that if she had re-read the book of Joel while pregnant, I would have been Josh or possibly even Jonah. As it stands, Joel became my first name and David became my middle name.

And it causes no end of problems. Japan doesn't have middle names and so the forms and online fields that you mentioned often are not provided for middle names. And yet it's in my passport so it must be included...it leads to all kinds of confusion, but such is life.

Great post!

Expand full comment