Educational Jargon

Authentic Audience #slowchated March 9-14, 2015

Image from Wikimedia Commons

I took great pride in my work for elective classes in high school: often more than I did for my academically required courses. I played tuba in multiple bands, acted in most of our school plays, competed in speech and debate, and wrote for the school newspaper. Now, of course, the fact that I chose my electives was a motivator, but the biggest difference between those classes and my others was the audience. I knew that my work would be on display for my peers and the larger community, not just the teacher. I practiced and practiced the tuba solo in the Holst Suite because I knew how many people would be listening. I carefully revised and edited every submission I wrote for the Timberwolf Times because all of my friends and teachers would read my work. I did fine on the papers that I wrote for my teachers’ eyes only, but I rarely put the same type of effort into those assignments.

Coursework in the arts and many electives have always given students an authentic audience, while work in other classes is done solely for the instructor. Why? Personally, it wasn’t something I thought about much until recently. In the past, I had my students imagine an audience for their writing, but we rarely wrote for a real audience. This year, I’m starting to give my students real audiences for presenting their work. I’ve seen how sharing their work with a broader audience motivates and inspires many of my students. Still, I know I can do more and I want to hear your ideas.

These are the questions I have in mind, but they are subject to change as you contribute ideas throughout the week.

Q1 What makes an audience “authentic”?

Q2 How do your students create for authentic audiences?

Q3 How much audience participation do you want? How do you encourage or discourage it?

Q4 What is something you already do that could be enhanced with an authentic audience?

Q5 Where do you find an audience?

Q6 What is your “dream audience” for student work?

I’m eager to discuss this with you on #slowchated and I hope that you will take full advantage of the slow chat format. We have a whole week to find and post links, photos, and blog posts. Best of all, we have an authentic audience in each other, and audience participation is required. Ask questions, challenge assumptions, and learn from one another!

Cross posted at the Teacher With Tuba blog

Week 12: Ed Jargon April Madness

Week 12 Reflection:

(See the Week 12 “worksheet” below this reflection.)

This week’s discussion of educational jargon as a term itself highlighted the nature our many views and interpretations of various jargon. As I shared below, when Sunday came I was not sure what to do for the entire week, had a bit of a personal agenda but tried to reserve that in response to the community’s responses. What I did feel is that our words we use in education adopt various meanings, usages, and examples of what they “look like.” I wondered if we are critical enough in our choice of words to truly community our educational ideas, or if I get too caught up in semantics? I wondered who shapes these words, for what motives, to what ends, and what responsibility or duty we have in forming these shapes. I also selfishly wondered how many people felt the same or different than me regarding some words such as grit and rigor. And finally, as moderator of this unique Twitter chat, one I’ve realized in recent weeks I should have been more involved in (I’ve been on an intermittent Twitter break for a while), I wondered to what degree I should act as facilitator toward my own desired outcomes versus a facilitator responding purely to where the learners “want” to go, however I may interpret that “want.” Therefore I started with Question 1:

“What purpose does/should educational jargon serve, and how/when is it (in)appropriately used?”



Week 12 “Worksheet”:

(Does that term spark any feelings in anyone?)

Full Searchable Archive of 591 #slowchated Week 12 Tweets

Here’s the recipe I use if you’d like to set up the same for yourself. I then copied all notes into a new, shared notebook for posterity. The notebook may be searched

IFTTT Recipe: Twitter favorites to a new note in Evernote notebook with tag 'favorite'. connects twitter to evernote


I am an unapologetic word lover. Semantics, subtleties, origins, context, subtext, rhetoric, intent, and so much more regarding the usage of words mean something to me. I sometimes think too deeply about them. I sometimes misstep by not thinking enough about them.

I’ve been thinking lately about educational jargon: its necessity, usage, misuse, overuse, abuse, effects, etc.

A week or so ago I stumbled upon the Educational Jargon Generator. Go ahead, take a moment, click on that hypertext and have some fun. But then come back…

While there is more to come, and while that ‘more’ will be in some part informed and shaped by the learners of the #slowchated community and in some form shaped by my continued working of the ideas racing through my head, I wanted to give you all something to get started with in thinking about this week’s topic: EDUCATIONAL JARGON!!!

Some Pre-Reading:

Things to be thinking about:

  • Jargon you love, most agree with, feel there’s a place in education for.
  • Jargon you can’t stand, that makes you cringe when you read or hear it, that you’d like to replace or rid education of altogether.
  • Ways to address the misuse/abuse or educational jargon OR other ways to express it/alternative methods to the same route.


ย Day 1 VERY BRIEF initial summary of points that appear to have consensus:

  • Jargon is necessary, discipline-specific vocabulary to efficiently express more complex ideas/concepts, and is used appropriately among like professionals who have a shared meaning/understanding of the jargon.
  • Jargon is misused when with those not “in the know,” or those without the shared meaning, e.g., parents, public, non-educators, lay people.
  • One using jargon should know it well, be able to teach/explain it simply and clearly, and know his audience when using it.
  • The term “jargon” tends to spark negative connotations among people; though, as noted above, there is consensus that jargon has a necessary place among each domain.
  • Jargon that is misused, co-opted for ulterior motives, or otherwise overused/abused may be called “buzzwords” and may be what contributes to the negative connotation.

Resources Added:

All that being said, we we move into Day 2, why don’t we consider the following?

Day 2/Question 2:

OR, rephrased:

A rephrased Q2: What are a few of your favorite things in ed (likely ed jargon), such as initiatives, programs, ideas, theories? #slowchated

Day 2 Summary & List:

Day3/Question 3:

Day 3 Summary/List:

Brief Summary:

  • Jargon (or the ideas they represent) are opposed by some while supported by others above
  • Overuse appears to move a valid term into the buzzword category
  • Some appear to approach with a negative connotation toward any jargon, while others firmly support jargon as an economical means of communication among professionals in a given domain
  • There is questioning of how jargon comes to be, how it is agreed upon, whom to trust in defining it, and who is to say/define it.

> Oppose, buzzword, or clarifying/needs clarification:

Other Resources Added:

Day 4/Question 4:

UPDATE 5:27 EST/EXPLANATION:ย I feel I made this week’s chat convoluted or like it is somehow spinning around the same stuff. I also feel like there’s some question/wondering of where this is going, what I am up to here, etc. Allow me to share some background: When I saw last week #slowchated was in need of some moderators, I volunteered. At that time I was thinking the topic would be resilience, and I hoped to explore this term and how we might foster it, recognize it, and honor it in kids, in opposition to seeking to teach “grit.” So my topic would be “Resilience.”

Then I was thinking more on vigor, and my preference to seek and foster vigorous learning experience for children, as opposed to rigorous ones. Then I thought, what if other people have their words or jargon they’d like to clarify, challenge, remove from our lexicon. At about the time of these thoughts I stumbled on the Educational Jargon Generator, which, while it is satirical, got me thinking on the terms we use to convey ideas in ed, who shapes and drives them, are we critical enough of their usage, and what impacts do their connotations, origins, and other elements have.

I hadn’t planned anything from there, and was waiting to hear what weeks needed a moderator. Then I got word on Saturday I would start on Sunday. Thus without any plans in place, and then with all kinds of ideas flowing, I just started in on it. All this led to imagining an Ed Jargon Cage Match, or Ed Jargon April Madness, and the Buzzword Bingo game, thinking it would might be fun to play these while also messing around with the jargon generator. But I also want to be respectful of people’s various views of these terms. What is for one a buzzword, is for another a key concept that drives their work. And I did not want to define the terms for everyone myself. I wanted the #slowchated community to do so. And while we have generated a list of words people love and oppose in ed, something about it all doesn’t seem to fit what I had thought it might turn into.

Perhaps I failed to shape the questions the right way. Perhaps my original ideas and progression to this point were off to begin with. But each day I have not been sure what would be next, have had a variety of ideas on where it might go based on responses, but have tried to respond to the prior day’s discussion, the group thus informing the topic’s evolution.

Either way, we are here, having considered what place jargon has in our lexicon, when it should be used, and when it is abused/misused. We have two lists of jargon we love in ed and those we challenge, with a bunch of links and viewpoints along the way. And I still wonder how these words shape our practice, how our practice shapes these words, what control have we to influence these, and what is imposed upon us, and so many other thoughts related to this.

And the habits of mind I shared below for today’s question I authentically wanted to share to benefit all us, as their pointed focus has already changed how I critique and analyze trends, policies, and practices in ed. But when I tried to respond to them myself this afternoon, it was convoluted to do so, especially within tweets. Thus I share below a revised, simplified question.

But I also ask you, the #slowchated community: Where would you like to go with this in the next two days? I would like to leave resilience for another week, if I could return to focus on an in-depth chat on just resilience.

Original Day 4:

I am currently enrolled in a Legal Issues in Policy Making course. We utilize four habits of mind to explore legal andย  policy issues, and what are often jargon terms. These four habits of mind are:

  1. The scales (think scales of justice): How are they currently (im)balanced? “Why” leads to 2, 3, & 4
  2. Stakeholders for & against: Who benefits? What are the motives?
  3. Context (the onion, with many layers): all facts: laws, policies, stats, research
  4. Environment (the cloud, like weather, not control over it, but it influences the first three): typically economy, emerging technology, broad issues far beyond scope of the focus but influencing the focus

Using these habits of mind to guide us, let us drill down deeper into some of the jargon we’ve identified, or others that might arise. To whatever degree the 140 enables, and perhaps we can push that degree, choose a word/idea you love to love or love to hate or somewhere in between, and let’s discuss them further through these habits of mind. Ready, set, go!

(Look to Day 2 and Day 3 summaries/lists for ideas, patterns, emerging questions.)

Therefore, Q4 is:

Q4: Using the 4 noted habits of mind, explore an idea, policy, practice, etc (the ‘what’ behind the jargon). Let’s push back on each other and drill down into what/why it means.

Resources/Links shared:



Day 5/Question 5:

For those tired of talking “jargon,” my apologies. I fear this week’s topic (and the convoluted nature of yesterday’s questions) has tired some. But I also tend toward being a bit over-sensitive to others. That being said, let’s have a fun “break” today as we head into Day 6, the final day. A couple folks have shared some of their results from the Ed Jargon Generator. How about if we do this?

It has been clearly noted during this week there is a need to put jargon into lay terms for those not “in the know”: students, parents, general public, etc. Let’s each put these skills to the test…

  1. Visit the Ed Jargon Generator and discover a priceless gem of a jargon-laden sentence. Quote it and translate it in one tweet.
  2. Then tweet a lay translation, your interpretation of it, as A5.2.
  3. Repeat as desired. Perhaps different sentences/translations could be organized as 5.1 #1/5.2 #1,… 5.1 #2/5.2 #2


Day 6/Question 6:

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, that’s all, folks.