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Education Jargon Information

Dr. Bob Kizlik
ADPRIMA

Updated February 16, 2014

In these difficult times, few disagree that there is seemingly an inexhaustible need to invent education terms, and the words and phrases we in education choose to describe what we do are never at rest. It seems as though every day new ways of expressing old ideas are formulated and added to the bewildering, bubbling stew known by such unflattering names as eduspeak, pedagogese, edutalk, and so on. There is seemingly no end to it, and I think new and future teachers need to be clear about the technical language of their profession. Whether dealing with parents, students, other teachers, administrators,  or the public, the need for specificity has never been greater. In these still difficult times with the economic downturn and employment losses across the board from manufacturing jobs to education positions, the need for clarity has never been more important. Available funds for education need to be spent prudently.

In my years of education, especially my early years, I was exposed to many expressions that at first I thought were very insightful. They seemed at the time to be perceptive and useful. However, upon reflection, I now know I was naive. An example:

Many of you reading this have probably heard an expression that goes something like this: "This program allows the child to learn at his own pace." What in the world does THAT mean? Think about it. At what other pace can a child learn but his own? Yet that phrase has been used in countless promotions for educational programs and materials, as if it were some sort of endorsement or validation. A truly worthless expression. What we really want to accomplish is to help children increase the pace at which they learn, thereby making learning more efficient.

Another is, "We take the child from where he is......" Well, great. Where else is the child than where he is?  I have heard this phrase used in education during my entire career spanning nearly five decades. And now, in the 21st century, its use has not abated in the slightest. Such language adds little to efforts to improve communication or clarify meaning. Such language does little to improve education in any practical way, but it sure does sound pretty meaningful.

I scoured the Internet to find descriptions of words and expressions that are commonly used in education. If you go to the links below, you will find commentary and a sometimes bewildering array of phrases and their descriptions. In some cases, they are humorous, in others, bewildering. As part of the ongoing mission of ADPRIMA to bring clarity and the best information to new and future teachers, I offer the following links:

Hiding Behind Education Jargon
Special Education Jargon
Say What?
Education Slang, Jargon, and New Words from Double-Tongued Dictionary
COLLEGESPEAK - jargon in higher education

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