Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wordsmithing Education

I am both and parent and educator which puts me in an interesting position. I attend parent conferences and see it from both perspectives. I read school publications and read between the lines. I hear about school board decisions and am both agitated and relieved at the same time. The divide many times comes about because of words. There is a lingo, a jargon, a language to education. And today I ran into it several times. I've determined it is a fascinating business.

While working with a colleague on writing a conference presentation description, we bounced the paragraph back and forth. Should we use "engage" or "interest"? "Transform" or "change"? I looked through my twitter feed for yet another adjective to help with a session description. We wanted to entice the conference to accept our session, so sounding new and innovative was paramount. But in the end, there are only so many ways to say that kids are learning and are happy doing so. Yet educators are experts and finding interesting ways to describe learning. I was particularly intrigued by the phrase "deep learning" he used. I pondered what that might mean. It certainly sounded good.

I ran into more terms as I tried to find specific reports to analyze a test. This is the world of data that educators are thrust into with very little knowledge of statistics. (that is another blog post). The myriad of reports to choose from was baffling and I was having difficulty knowing what I might find in each report. Discerning the "test synopsis" from the "test question performance" and the "benchmark report" from the "category results" was a puzzle in itself. Most parents think that educators are looking at a single score.

And finally, I stumbled onto more words in the syllabus another colleague sent me for an ultra modern college course on technology in education. Now here is where you'll find the true wordsmiths of education. The area of technology education is where you'll hear cutting-edge terminology that almost rivals Shakespeare. I stumbled across "connectivism" and "participatory learning."  Aren't those the same as being online and paying attention?  I can coin a new term any day and perhaps it will catch on. But the main goal here is a phrase that has been around for as long as I've been in education; love of learning. If we as educators can encourage every child to seek learning on their own, haven't we achieved the goal? I enjoy the new terms and actually perk up each time I read a new one. So yes, they have my attention and perhaps that is the purpose anyway.

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