The Conversation Connection

In our tech-laden world today, opportunities for personal, face-to-face connections are increasingly difficult to come by. Creating those teachable moments, to model and reinforce our most basic virtues, has become imperative, if not demanded by some, for the sake of the disappearing art of conversation.

One of the most important, and uncompromising, lessons we can teach our children is how to effectively, and humanly, interact with others in face-to-face settings. The simple act of having an in-person conversation activates, and brings to life, many different virtues: acceptance, consideration, cooperation, courtesy, enthusiasm, fairness, friendliness, honest, humility, integrity, kindness, patience, sincerity, respect, self-discipline, responsibility, tact, trust, understanding, compassion, empathy, and gratitude, to name but a few. This exchange is simply a win-win for the speaker and the listener, because they both enjoy the benefits of this extensive range of virtues.

Granted, technology has a crucial place in our day-to-day lives, like when I Skyped with my children when I was serving in the Peace Corps. However, we must not substitute technology for real life experience in regards to our children’s emotional and social education. We need to learn and become every piece of the puzzle to be well-rounded, well-adjusted, responsible citizens and neighbors. And it begins with a renewed awareness of the virtue void we are living in today.

In the article The Benefits of Face-to-Face Communication, we are reminded of the value of personal contact in conversation.

…it’s said that over 90% of how we communicate is through nonverbal cues like gestures and facial expressions.

A personal touch: Plain and simple, it’s just nice. There’s a feeling of community because we’re better able to socialize and interact with one another.  We quickly build a bond that sets the foundation for trust and ultimately, lasting relationships.

If you aren’t a believer yet, ask yourself why you make an effort to attach smiley faces to sensitive emails? Why do you put extra question marks or exclamation points at the end of exasperated emails? We inherently know that we need to overemphasize via email because we have that urge to communicate what is only possible through face-to-face communication.


I’m optimistic about our collective virtue revival because I see progress, albeit one person at a time. The ultimate goal of education is to educate/mentor one student at a time, and to participate in their personal development, and that’s exactly what this program intends to do. With guidance, real-time practice and a conscious effort, the current, and future, generations of children will be able to gracefully communicate in-person, as we once learned.

Thank you,




The Fundamental Launch!

Welcome to my new blog!

Fundamentals is a program designed to explore and extend the world of values through a child’s eye. It is also designed to enhance the range of Character Education materials educators currently use. With a series of whimsical stories about people and animals, students will be further exposed to the treasure trove of values needed to create a rich life, colored with quality and meaning. The Golden Rule rides high in these books!

After teaching at the elementary, secondary, and college (student teachers) levels (in the US and abroad), I heard the growing call for more development in the area of basic life values. We all learn them at home, in school, or in the community, but tend to neglect to practice them. Further, if introduced, and applied, they sometimes lack reinforcement, leaving simple knowledge sans experience.

According to Dr. Kagan…

The Structural Approach to Character Development

As we look at today’s youth, we are confronted with a sobering realization: they do not have the virtues we once could assume. If we go back in time half a century, as we handed something to a student we would hear a polite “Thank you.” “Yes sir” and “Please” were part of every student’s everyday vocabulary. If the teacher was cleaning a blackboard or carrying books they could expect to hear from students a kind, “May I help you.” Honesty, responsibility, kindness, and a host of other virtues were almost universal.

Today’s youth are different. Not only is simple politeness missing; many students of today do not ascribe to the basic virtues of honesty, respect, caring, or hard work.

Kagan, S. The Structural Approach to Character Development. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. Kagan Online Magazine, Winter 2000.

Kagan Workshops


I’m thrilled to begin this journey into the world of creating educational materials for students, teachers and parents! I welcome your comments and suggestions as I introduce my ideas and open up the desperately needed conversation about everyone’s character development.

Peace, Debra Tiffany