‘Plain Language’ Education

One of the great things about the #28daysofwriting is reading what other people have to say. There is a lot that resonates in the hash tag, but this is also one of the dangers. If we keep reading stuff we agree with we will never really explore the reasons why we don’t agree with different points of view. Dissonance leads to clarity of our mental models as we mould and shape what we assume and believe to be true.

Steve Mouldy writes great stuff. His piece for Day 6 of #28daysofwriting centred around an experience he had where a group of teachers were banned from using education buzz words. Anyone who was caught using the buzzword had to put a token in the fine jar. I thought finally I can disagree with Mouldy about something! Banning professional language at an e-fellows retreat? Let me hoe into that one! Would doctors talking with other doctors substitute specific words in an effort to eliminate ‘jargon’? Do lawyers use less precise language so that everyone gets the general idea – not very lawyer-like.

Now I am not suggesting that teachers are in the same league as Doctors after all they save lives, teachers just mould, guide and inspire them. But really, if we are having professional conversations should we not use professional language? Now I am taking Steve’s post literally and he does make a killer point in that everyone has such different ideas of what the buzzwords mean that there is confusion. So let’s have those discussions. Let’s talk about what agency means to us, let’s get it clear in our heads what it looks like, sounds like and feels like. Let us define it so that we can applaud it when we see it and go ‘that ain’t agency’ when it is passed off as such before our eyes. After all if we can’t decide as a profession then how can we talk with our communities?

Is this the rationale for plain language reporting to parents? At what point do we say, ‘hold on what I am trying to explain requires precise language’. Isn’t our job to educate, can we not use the language and bring our parents along with us so that they can use the language that teachers and students share? Does watering down a statement add to comprehension or merely consign it to a sea of sameness.

Long live precise, clearly defined and understood jargon.

3 thoughts on “‘Plain Language’ Education”

  1. Great post and I agree how great #28daysofwriting has been for so many ideas being shared. The downside of the 28 minute time limit is that later on you think of things that should be added but too late!

    I agree that it is absolutely critical for those discussions to be had and that a Ban on terms is a drastic measure. The ban worked well for our hui where it was the first time working together so we had to really explain what we meant by our student centred, future focused lens on education in an MLE. 😉

    We both know educators and schools that have grabbed hold of a term and started implementing based on a shallow understanding of that practice. What I hope my post provokes (and yours does much more eloquently) is people having more indepth discussion about what they mean by certain terms rather than just relying on a buzzword/acronym.

    1. I knew exactly what you were getting at Steve and I suppose my response was a response to that frustration of not being precise at a systemic level. Our bubblesphere of people are pretty aligned and we need to spread that goodness.

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