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Education Buzzwords: Image and Reality

    Note: For a more serious and detailed look at the phrases used by the education industry, go to this section of this website: Learning the Lingo.

    Education Buzzwords: Image and Reality
    by Kevin Killion

    The late Kingman Brewster, president of Yale University, once said, "Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession." We laugh at bizarre excesses, such as "kinetic wellness" to mean "gym class" (true example!) but jargon has a darker implication: buzzwords can be well-chosen to mask a truth that the uninitiated may find distasteful. Here is a quick guide (with a healthy dose of dry humor) of some of the wonderful-sounding phrases used in schools.

    Education Buzzwords
    Buzzwords What Parents
    It Means
    What It
    Research has shown It's proven Other people say so, too click
    Child-centered Your child is of greatest concern Your child does what he wants to do  
    Age appropriate Challenged to take the next step further Comfortable with current level click
    Expanding horizons Your child will be exposed to familiar things first Your child will be a teenager before learning any real history click
    Balanced reading Balanced reading Whole language click
    Emergent Literacy Teaching a child to read Watching a child guess at words
    No memorization No boring stuff We don't teach facts  
    Critical thinking Reflection based on understanding of facts and their relationships Make up opinions out of thin air click
    Higher-order thinking Thinking Lost in the fog click
    Brain-based learning Science teaches a lot about learning I believe in feng shui, too click
    Authentic assessment A true measure of a child Subjective, touchie-feelie measures of vaguely-defined goals click
    Portfolio assessment What a nice, fat folder! None of these projects look like much alone, but lumped together ... Click here
    or here
    Facts are soon outdated... we have to keep up why bother teaching any of them click
    Multiple intelligences Every child has unique skills No one has to learn anything specific click
    Discovery learning It's fun to learn Kids will spend a week learning what lively, engaged instruction could teach in a day click
    School shouldn't be "a mile wide and an inch deep" Greater depth Narrower range click
    Lifelong learning Children get in the habit of learning new things They won't learn much around here, so we'll show them how to look it up later click
    We don't "teach to the test" No drills just for the sake of passing some test We don't like being told what to cover in class click
    hands-on thorough, personalized learning yet another fun project instead of having to learn anything click
    relevant meaningful obsessively self-absorbed click
    teach the child,
    not the subject
    teach the child what was the subject again?  
    collaborative projects build social skills learn how to run in packs and let someone else do the work  
    technology learning about computers an expensive way to have even more projects click
    Block Scheduling More time for thorough learning There's no way I can teach for 90 minutes straight, so let's make another collage today and watch a movie tomorrow click
    A federal "Blue Ribbon" school A great place to learn Observes all the trendiest theories click
    A degree in Education A person of great learning Shows high tolerance for mindless ed school drivel click
    Education theorist Thinks deeply about education issues Able to spout opinions without any supporting data click
    Education researchers People who analyze data about what actually works People who summarize the views of the theorists click
    School Board Voice of the people Pass the Kool-Aid, please click

    For a more serious and detailed look at the phrases used by the education industry, go to this section of this website: Learning the Lingo.

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