Anya Kamentz from NPR sat down and tried something we all should try. She attempted to make the latest buzzwords in educational research simple and easy to understand. If you were at AERA last weekend, you probably attended sessions (like I did) which were so jargon heavy it was often difficult to follow along. As researchers and writers, our job is to communicate big, complex, and messy ideas to those who didn’t conduct the research or know as much about your particular topic as you do. Jargon often gets in the way of that. creating a divide between researchers/writers and the audience.
Kamentz set out to define some of the most popular educational jargon using only the most 1000 common words in the English Language. Here are a few of my favourite:
Authentic (learning or assessment)
What does this schoolwork have to do with my life or the real world?
Culturally responsive teaching
Do you know where your students come from and what their lives are like?
Let’s use computers and people to teach students.
You have a good idea. Making it happen is the hard part.
Don’t stop until you really know a thing.
Teach the teachers too.
Don’t just write words and numbers. Do something.
Schools need to change.
Teaching things step by step so the student can do more and more by herself.
Lots of people care what happens in schools, like students, teachers, parents and leaders. You should listen to everybody.
A teacher should act like a businessperson.
I (Cathy) came across this quote and felt it was most applicable to education. As teachers and teacher educators we must be forward thinking and forward acting. We must look to where or students and society is going to be and prepare them. Thank you # 99 for reminding us of our role in the progress of educational theory and praxis.
Sunday marked the 61st anniversary of the landmark case in the U.S.: Brown vs. Board of Education. The supreme court case declared segregated schooling unconstitutional. However, 61 years later many schools remain separate and unequal. Often students in low socio-economic neighbourhoods, which tend to have a more diverse population, remain at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts in more affluent neighbourhoods . Rebecca Klein, author at the Huffington Post, put together six powerful graphs which illustrate how far we still have to go for a truly equitable educational system. Below are a couple graphs from Klein’s article:
To read the entire article click here:
On a recent walk I noticed the front lawn of a home in my neighborhood proudly exhibits a quaint little wooden structure perched a top a post, which at first glance looked like an oversized bird house, however, upon closer examination I noticed that the petite house is full of books and displays a sign that invites passersby to take a book and return a book. The small wooden house is part of the Little Free Library initiative, a not-for-profit organization that promotes literacy, a love of reading, and a sense of community. The project began in 2009 when Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one-room schoolhouse in honor of his mother, a former teacher who loved reading. He filled the model schoolhouse with books and put it on a post in his front yard. According the website www.littlefreelibrary.org “a loyal cadre of volunteers made it possible to expand the organizational reach…. By January of 2014, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 15,000, with thousands more being built.” Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood or a community literacy initiative that you would like to share?
I (Cathy) have always loved the end of summer. I love the change in the temperature, the lush ripe tomatoes, and most of all, the start of a new year at school. There is an excitement to it- like New Years- full of potential and possibilities. Plus, the tasks I have been performing, provided me with a sense of order and purpose. I’ve reviewed notes from last year on changes I want to make for this year; prepared class lists, syllabi, and power points. I sorted the art supplies, pulled books, and looked up newer resources. I also looked up a few quotes to start the year off…
Today is my first day of teaching. I feel ready. Hope you do too. Have a great year!
“We’re not trash. We’re good people,” says Andrew, one of the adolescent boys featured in the documentary Rick Hill, a film about rural poverty in America. As directors Tracy Droz Trago and Andrew Droz Palermo chronicle the lives of three adolescent boys Andrew, Harley and Appachey, they challenge us to take an unflinching look at a cycle of poverty that often locks families into socio-economic hardship for generations. The intimate use of the camera, and a narrative that builds slowly, provides viewers with unfettered access to the intricate relationships that exist between the boys and their families and the complex hardships they face daily.
Last month, I (Cathy) was invited to present a workshop on literacy and the arts in Gotha, Germany, for a group of educators. At the beginning of the workshop, one of the teachers admitted, “I really don’t know what literacy means.” I wasn’t really surprised as interpretations of literacy are so varied. When a few others also admitted they were not sure, I invited them to find a matching-shoe partner and share with them what they thought literacy meant.
Once the discussion was opened up to the whole group, it was interesting to hear what they came up with. They started off with the traditional reading and writing interpretation and we decided together these were forms of communication. From there, the definition really expanded. One participant suggested literacy included reality, while another suggested emotion. As we probed deeper the idea literacy was a view of the world was introduced. Eventually I asked them to look around the room at the fabulous paintings hanging on the walls. They were painted by local school children and they were emoting wonderful narratives. Yes, they decided, the paintings were also literacy. Throughout the rest of the workshop we explored ways to use storytelling and drama as literacy.
It was exciting to witness the development of a deeper understanding of an enormous concept like literacy. I like to think this encounter helped these teachers to see meaning-making in a new way. I wonder how it will affect their use of literacy in their classrooms. On the chart we created together, it was also suggested literacy was fun. It was. Hope it is for their students too.
Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, has teamed up with the Girls Scouts USA to start a campaign that calls for a ban on the use of the word bossy in everyday language. Sandberg suggests that referring to girls as “bossy” can limit their full leadership potential. The website of Sandberg’s non-profit organization LeanIn.Org states,
“When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded bossy. Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead. Pledge to Ban Bossy”.
Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” initiative has recruited an ensemble of spokeswomen, including Condoleezza Rice, Diane von Furstenberg, Jennifer Garner, Jane Lynch, and perhaps most notably megastar Beyoncé.
The Ban Bossy project highlights how a word can come to signify particular social and cultural dynamics. While I do understand the goals driving this initiative it makes me uneasy when a group advocates for the banning of words no matter how well intentioned their motivations might be. Words carry with them a history, at times a history of injustice and painful disparities, but an awareness of history is critical if we hope to effect systemic change. Perhaps, an alternative to “banning” is reclaiming words in an attempt to shift the negative connotations associated with a particular word.