Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eduspeak, the language of Educrats

"The Roots and Perils of Eduspeak—The Language of Pretense and Evasion" discusses the 'bafflegab' of educational jargon, creeping into schools.

The roots again can be found in "Cults of Ignorance" errors of Progressive Education:

In developing his case against the "damaging bromides" of Spencer -- and their steady institutionalization by Dewey and Kilpatrick in teachers' colleges and K-12 public schools -- Egan looks carefully at the real effects of "child-centered" education, psychological "developmentalism," and what he usefully calls the "biologized view of mind" that changed curricula all over the Anglo-American world from common-sense transmitters of the cultural achievements of mankind to present-minded, experimental, experiential, naturalistic, and unchallenging approaches.

Such an approach has been shown to be a failure.
This article traces the path - 'progressive education ideals', based on a misunderstanding of human nature and the real purposes of education, has hollowed out the educational system, leaving a void of dumbed-down and lower standards:

As a public educator for nearly 25 years and student of popular culture for nearly double that, I believe that attending to lesser things/arguments is also contributing to a “dumbing down” of the American public, and, therefore, public education in America. ... This diminishing of quality education is also the consequence of a passionate opposition to memorization, coupled with a breakdown in the teaching of and knowledge about American history, Western literature and values.

He begs the question of experiential education and the folly of not leading children in the right way:
Why dance with the devil only to learn what others have been saying since Adam and Eve? Dance with the devil and he will surely step on your toes. Besides, experience is often overrated as a teacher.

Another way to view it: A more 'natural' education for children would be a good justification for closing all schools, firing all teachers and letting kids run wild in the streets.

Obviously, such a conclusion would not do for educational professionals, aka Educrats. We need less education?!? No, this calls for more education, more and more of it, and the more failed and incompetent, the more we have to pour into it. So they resort to obfuscation to cover the tracks for the failures of these educational methods:

Former Ontario college teacher Barry Kavanagh agrees. “Although jargon is used by bureaucrats of all kinds to facilitate their own interactions, it seems to me that, in education, bureaucrats additionally employ jargon to keep their real agenda (the socialization of students) and their dismal academic results hidden from parents and taxpayers.”

An example of Eduspeak is Service Learning, which is neither service nor learning in practice. It's Eduspeak: "Eduspeak is a language of hypocrisy -- excuse me -- tact. That is, of indecision, of hesitation, of reluctance, of prissiness and of indirection. Of all those things that undermine the formation of courage, steadfastness, forthrightness and commitment."

Is "service learning" education? No. "Perhaps it is time for educators to stand up to their practically inexperienced and morally befogged directors and say no to anything which undermines the basic mission of the school. This might also require our foregoing Eduspeak and talking directly to our students. I suspect such a situation might be far more effective than so-called "service learning" in teaching character."

Words mean things. Ideas have consequences. Lack of clarity in expression reflects confusion and poverty in thinking. The bafflegab that is Eduspeak is a cover for poor educational theories and methods. Good educational theories are simple and concise and accessible to all - even the students.

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