Sunday, 29 July 2007

Jargon usage is a problem we need to be across

One of the things that bugs me is the education/corporate speak. I include corporate here because it seems to me terms and buzz words used in the corporate world drift into education.

One of the most popular terms at the moment is "going forward" (as opposed to going backwards"), others include "on the same page", "paradigm shift", ""ballpark", "toolboxes", "tool kit","touch base", "empower", "capacity building," "brainstorming", "shared goals", and so on.

The principal of a local primary school said the phrase that currently annoyed her is "across". You can no longer be aware of a situation you must be "across" it. You are no longer up to date with your workload or comprehend a situation ... you are "across" them.

Jargon is everywhere and in education circles I suppose we call is "eduspeak". Jargon can be humorous but also dangerous. Jargon is often used to show the difference between insiders and outsiders, those in the know of the current jargon and those who don't. George Orwell in his essay Politics and the English Language, said the aim of jargon was to mislead.

He wrote, "When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink."

The other problem, he said, was that jargon stopped people thinking. "Every such phrase anaesthetises a portion of one's brain," Orwell said.

Thinking and walking

I'm a reasonably sociable person who also likes solitude so this quote in Presentation Zen appealed:

In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.
--Rollo May

Walking and thinking for me somehow gets things flowing in my mind and I'm able to work out ideas. Often when I'm trying to figure out how a difficult situation or problem should be handled I'll go for a walk and talk to myself.

One of the areas I'm working on with a group of teachers at the moment is an adaption of the professional learning strategy Lesson Study. This involves a group of teachers planning a lesson, observing while one teaches the lesson and the evaluating how it went and planning for the next lesson and so on. This is taking up a chunk of my current solitude looking for ways to make this successful for the teachers involved.