Friday, April 15, 2011

Important words, abstruse content

Words are getting wobbly.

Participants in the professional ed. reform world will recognize these words, as will teachers--we have to endure them in conversation about our professional development.

I saw one blogger urge us "to bring greater authenticity to math and literacy instruction."

???? Authenticity?
I don't even know what this means. I don't think I'd even know it when I saw it.

I read another claim about programs that make "significant impact on student achievement."

I'll presume positive impact, but the bigger question is 'achievement of what?' I'm not being sassy here. If achievement of higher test scores, that's somewhat immaterial to whether the student is getting a good education. If it's achievement of self-esteem, I need to see the data that shows such achievement is 'best practice.' If something else, please specify.

The What Works Clearinghouse says it is a "trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education."

Similar question--what works...for?

I don't remember who it was I read that observed that every discipline or profession needs its specialized language, in part to reserve participation in the conversation to the initiates only. If this is any indication, then the least specialized groups seem to come up with the most awkward language of all.

1 comment:

ELarson said...

Thank you! I am always fighting (too strong a word, perhaps) against phrases like "...significant impact..." because it can't be significant and neither positive or negative. As a writer and previous English teacher I dislike sloppy language, such as that you highlighted above. The education buzzwords, like "authenticity" and "achievement," are sprinkled about all sorts of articles, grant proposals, and other writing. The lack of clarity is annoying at best, but also makes it hard to build credibility for the thoughts that are, hopefully, behind it. Anyway, thanks for your post.