Taboo! (Teacher Buzzword Edition)

Like the game, the point is not to say certain, shall we say, buzzwords.

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So, here's the thing.

In education, we love our terminology, our buzzwords. We know the things we're supposed to say, and include in all our pedagogical conversations.

Alas, we also wind up draining those terms of any meaning. We say them because we know they're expected, and though they may actually be cornerstones of our practice, we become a bit resentful of their overuse.

And that's the best case scenario. We sometimes build these power structures wherein folks use the terms because they're "encouraged" to by folks with power and influence. Certain things can not get off the ground because they don't coincide with the current list of approved terms, and other things aren't questioned, because, well, they're on that list.

What would it look like if we just talked, and didn't worry about whatever the current edulingo dictates be said? If we took whatever trendy term was being applied to all teachers and learning, and made it taboo for the conversation? 

We could talk about student work without worrying about grit, or engagement.

We could talk about how kids learn without worrying about their resiliency or mindset.

Instead of spending our time trying to fit what we're talking about to a list of popular terms, what if we just talked about what we see, think, feel, want and need?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dan Blake

Thanks, Jay. I wholeheartedly agree that a rigorous, robust conversation with stakeholders happens best when there's a paradigm shift in the language we use to communicate our blah, blah, blah...

In my view, putting aside the "buzzwords" serves two important purposes: allows for more "real" conversations amongst educators and allows for clearer communication between educators and non-educators who may not be as well-versed in eduspeak (and who may have their own buzzwords in whatever sector they are coming from).

Photo of Jay Nickerson

Part of this suggestion comes from the reality that we often work in, where many people feel they need to agree when admin rolls out the buzzword laden thing that they're ascribing to currently. I've watched heads nod in faux agreement, simply because of who was saying what they liked and wanted more of. Without an avenue to speak openly, regardless of whatever eduspeak is being espoused is key to moving forward. Am I anti- buzzword and program. No, but is it the only way? Nope.

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