Words

In the category of “I found this post too late for inclusion yesterday because Eva’s beat you to it and was ironically roughly about the same topic”, comes this post from Donna Fry.

School

It’s part of a meme that she’s been tagging me in all week for some reason.  I already blog regularly.  I already like my routine.  I’m not sure why I’d change it.

Anyway, as part of the meme, she had this post about “School” and asked:

What other words are holding us back in education?

I had a sense of what she was looking for but couldn’t help but think that education is its own worst enemy.

I tossed in the following words and my reply is waiting moderation so I’ll repeat them here.  It’s a good start for a most of my own inspired by her original.  Thanks, Donna.

  • Summative
  • Exams
  • Graduation
  • Certificate
  • Diploma

The common thread that runs through all of them are that the goal of education, at least by the jargon that we use, is to somehow be done with it.

Everything that education does is predicated on success that involves those words.

She wanted one word or I would have used a quote that my father was fond of:

“It’s all over but the shouting”.

What would school look like if we somehow removed those words from it?  Could we ultimately reach the state that Eva talked about in her post?

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6 thoughts on “Words

  1. Doug, I left a comment on Donna’s post that is similar to the one that I’m going to leave here. While I definitely understand what you’re saying here, I wonder if it’s the words themselves that have to change or our thinking behind these words and what needs to be done to “best” prepare our students for these experiences. It’s that belief that we can always have a reason not to make a change, or we can make a change anyways even with all of the possible reasons not to. Will the same people find reasons not to change even if these words were eliminated? Curious to hear what others have to say on this topic.

    Aviva

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  2. I agree with you, Aviva. Changing or removing words won’t solve all the ills. We all grew up in a system where they were important and tinkering about won’t change much. What really needs to be removed is the system that stands behind the words and what they hinder in terms of live long and effective learning.

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  3. I think it’s about rethinking the purpose of education. There are those who believe that our job as teachers is to prepare students for tests and exams and they believe that doing well on tests is important – gets you in to university and then you can get a good job. But if you see the purpose of education as preparing students to be critical thinkers and caring, compassionate, informed and active members of society, both locally and globally, then your thinking about what we do as teachers shifts as well.

    I”ll post a similar thought on the original blog.

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  4. Hi Doug!

    I know you as the best person in Ontario to connect people and bloggers, so i was tagging you on Twitter only to let you know we might see some new blogging voices this week. I already know that you blog every day – and I always wish I could do the same. I couldn’t even get 5 consecutive posts done, but I did get a province-wide “not-a-book-study” launched!

    Check it out if you have time. We hope many new bloggers start writing as a result of this examination of Cathy Fosnot’s thinking on multiplication and division.

    https://notabookstudy.wordpress.com/

    Thanks for engaging in the conversation about how our words and their meanings might be stifling our thinking about what is possible in education.

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  5. Hello – a much-admired colleague, mentor and inspiration forwarded this to me and I responded to her email with a lengthy one of my own (instead of the 140 character tweet I should have composed – reason #856386 why I’d fail the OSSLT 😉 So while I will condense as originally requested, I’m also posting my hurriedly composed response here as well. Apologies for the presumptuous bossiness…

    “Greetings Captain My Captain!

    Yes – I would like to remove school from our lexicon – for a ‘whole bunch’ of reasons 😉

    1. it’s etymological origin – it comes from a Latin word which means a place where lectures are given. Lectures are one-way communication – a process whereby an ‘expert’ on a topic disseminates her/his knowledge (often infused with opinion) to an audience of assumed ‘lesser thans’ in the intellect department. Lectures eliminate organic thought and completely run against what learning (which is what education should be) is. There is no give-and-take, confluence of ideas; discussion of opinions and sharing of what is known. And who wants to continually feel as if they know less than the person who has ‘power’ over them?

    2. it is both a noun and a verb and both are not cool – school is a building, a structure, it is not an environment. You go to school – you don’t immerse yourself in it. It’s a destination not an experience. And its structure does not invite or imply flexibility – it is fixed. Firm. Unyielding. To be ‘schooled’ in both archaic and slang sense, is to have someone ‘teach you a lesson’. Once again necessitating an almost zero-sum relationship.

    3. it has an impersonal connotation – what did you learn at ‘school’ today? ‘Don’t be late for ‘school’? I have to go to ‘school’. Kids attend or go to ‘school’. They may like or even love their ‘school’ but the possessive seems to be only used when expressing an emotional reaction to the institution.

    When we talk about school in a reformative/transformative sense, school becomes an object or something like a preposition. Schools are places of learning. We want to revolutionize school. The environment/pedagogy/philosophy of the school is what needs to change/be supported. We need a school-centred approach to reforming our schools. I would love to see schools assume a word or a definition that emphasises action and movement. I would like to see it as only a verb. There’s flexibility in a verb. Verbs are not overly reliant on binaries – all can be affected in various ways without anyone ‘losing out’. Verbs imply change. If learning is supposed to be a life-long process, and, if we embrace the philosophical tenet that we, as human beings, are in an unending process of change, then anything static which is given a role of importance in our lives is either left behind, or tethers us, and in that attachment, kills us.”

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