Saturday, August 14, 2010

Favorite Jargon?

It's that time of year, isn't it?  Educational "jargon" is slipping and sneaking into conversations... sometimes wisely and sometimes as a knee-jerk reaction to some outside force trying to infiltrate classrooms.  It's everywhere.  There are even on-line dictionaries dedicated to the terms, phrases, and explanations themselves.  Our own private educational glossaries.
     The dictionary provides a variety of definitions for "jargon"... the language peculiar to a particular trade or profession, unintelligible or meaningless talk, gibberish, talk that one does not understand, language laden with uncommon or pretentious vocabulary, pidgin, or convoluted syntax that is vague in meaning.
      So, I started thinking about the "Top Ten" terms that seem to be floating in my educational airspace lately.  Terms circling like attack helicopters waiting for the perfect time to land.  I decided to change their meanings a bit.  Here are my definitions of just a few choice terms.  
     In the "remember when" format... do you remember when...
  • “Benchmarks” were what parents were left with after spending time watching their child’s T-ball game or swim meet.
  • “Eliminating the Guess Work” meant we spent time in the kitchen with our children helping them learn to cook.
  • “This allows the child to learn at his own pace” meant spending time watching, learning, and cheering on a child literally at his own pace.
  • “Intervention” meant seeking help for individuals with alcohol, drug, and other dependencies.
  • “Scientifically based research” meant studying and experimenting to find cure for polio or developing penicillin.
  • “Tracking” meant running a 100-yard dash around the football field.
  • “High-stakes Testing” meant testing the stability of your tent in the backyard for a sleepover.
  • “Phonemic Awareness” meant listening and getting involved in family dinner conversations.
  • “Program” meant watching television as a family on Saturday night.
  • “Adequate Yearly Progress” meant blowing out candles on another birthday cake; making it another year without any broken bones or major surgeries. 
     I worry our "words of the week" are stripping learning of its joy, its organic-nature, its creativity, its fun, its passion, its intent, its purpose.  And, even though my top ten list is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, shouldn't we sometimes be asking ourselves, "What does _____ really mean for learners and learning?"  When students leave our classrooms and step out into the real world (tomorrow or ten years from now), what are the things that will matter most? 
     What is some of the jargon that you've heard lately... over and over and over and over?


  1. LOVE these! Especially that last one. Oh, to go back to those days...

  2. There's so much jargon out there. Too much. Your post captures the best of it.

    Let's see... what other jargon is out there. How about, "sense of urgency" (I must admit, I've used it myself many times in academic discussions.) as one of the many overused ones with regard to preparing kids to take standardized tests?

  3. Ahhh... "sense of urgency." Forgot that one. Removing a splinter requires urgency... catching the last shuttle at the airport... someone who falls unconscious and needs CPR... when you have to go to the bathroom! Those are the things that require that "sense"... but, children, they need time, agreed?