Dazed and Confused . . .

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picjumbo.com_IMG_3241I’m curious about something that’s been bugging me.  I’m sharing it in this blog in the hopes that you’ll read this and let me know what you think.  Here goes . . .

Do we, in education, work against our own best interests when we use terms like, critical friends groups, or backwards design, or essential questions (I’m not even going so far as to say critical pedagogy)?  In other words, do we work against our own best interests when we use terms that are an accepted part of our field? Do we alienate teachers? Do you have to avoid using specific terms to effect change and/or to support teachers in rethinking their practice?

Is this a problem in other fields, like economics or sociology?  Is that like comparing apples and oranges?

Would we refrain from using helpful terms used within a particular field because they might intimidate or alienate the learner?  For example, in statistics, would we refrain from using the terms, chi-square test, to describe a particular approach because it would anger or alienate the learner?

Am I comparing two different things here?

I’m befuddled and welcome your helping me to think this through . . .

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4 Comments

  1. Deborah on September 11, 2010 at 2:35 am

    I think they are alienating only insofar as they are mystifying — and therefore threatening. School leaders can’t just assume everyone has a working definition of each term — back to idea of Power = Socialized Knowledge.

    A higher-order conversation keeps teachers from becoming islands. In other professions, professionals are in constant dialogue with other adults grappling with the same content, and jargon is essential for the most basic professional conversation. As a teacher, I can go days where my contact with other adults is minimal — because the teacher next door closes her door and the teacher at recess doesn’t want to talk shop. The kids aren’t talking about curriculum standards and essential questions . . . someone has to raise the bar of dialogue, and that’s most likely to come from an instructional leader . . . some teachers might feel threatened, but you how else do you keep the conversation moving? And you are fostering an environment that feeds those teachers that crave the intellectual stimulation that comes from studying the art and science of teaching.



  2. Gayle on September 11, 2010 at 2:40 am

    Deborah, music to my ears . . . thank you for sharing your insights on this. I worry that we can sometimes choose not to name it because it’ll cause teachers to downshift. The problem is that it can dumb things down – it can insult the teachers we’re most trying to stimulate and support!



  3. Deborah on September 11, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Dumbing-down is exhausting and demoralizing (ask me how I know . . . !).



  4. Gayle on September 11, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I agree, Deborah!