Clichés to avoid (like the plague?)


I had to smile while reading this story yesterday morning.

17 Horrible Business Cliches That Make People Ignore Whatever Else You Have to Say

I decided to cherry pick some clichés from the list that I’ve overly heard in education and most certainly online.  When Twitter, for example, was limited to 140 characters, I guess you had to compromise your words for effect.  But, now that the limit is longer, you’d hope that people would have more room for a different (better?) choice of words.

Nah, it isn’t happening.

Here’s my list of cherry picked words linked to a Twitter search for current use and your amusement …

I can actually picture certain people using those words.

How about you?

Do you use any of those words regularly?  In proper context?

When you hear them used, do you ignore the person saying them from that point on?

Are there words from the article that you would apply to education?

Are there any other words that you’d like to add to the list?


Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: Follow me on Twitter: I'm bookmarking things at:

8 thoughts on “Clichés to avoid (like the plague?)”

  1. Oh gosh! Now you have me thinking about all the times I’ve heard these words and the people that have spoken them. I’m not sure that I’ve used these terms, at least not purposely or recently, but there’s always the possibility. The only one I’ve never heard before is “low hanging fruit.” Wondering why.

    I think that my term “educational troublemaker” may also be considered a cliche, but I like it more. Is this just because I use the term more? Maybe … it’s just these two words together perfectly sum up me in education. I hope that makes them more than a cliche. Wishful thinking, perhaps?!



  2. Well, often (but not alwyas) in CS Ed, “Thought Leader” means that you’ve been anointed as an authority although you have little or no teaching experience and little or no CS experience.

    I’m ok with “disrupt” in the business would but in education it really means destroy.

    As for “Rock Stars:”
    Or maybe I was wrong there:


  3. I use rockstar wayyyyyy too much, but only when I really mean it….as in ” Melanie was an absolute rock star with her rock-solid pedagogy in her making workshop yesterday” or “we gave Cherie Dimaline the rock star treatment yesterday at her book signing at OLASC. Full on fangirl” or “Alanna King, OLASC co-planner? Total rock star”. These are people I walk in awe of, people I think are amazing at what they do, people U love to watch doing what they love – like rock stars.
    Aviva won’t love this one, but I’m not fond of the use of self-reg if it’s not really what’s being talked about (and she knows that I prefer co-regulation).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lisa, I think that the problem with the term, Self-Reg, is that it’s not always what’s being talked about, so we have to think about what we’re really describing. Co-regulation is at times a much better description! And sometimes, the term itself doesn’t matter at all: it’s what we’re observing or what we’re doing that matters most. I’d rather someone never use the term, but instead show the behaviour. But in a profession where edujargon is popular, and people are expecting to hear the words (I’ve been to interviews before where mentioning the terms I think helped with being a successful candidate), has education become a field where cliches are a reality? Is there a way to change this?


    P.S. I even think of the words “inquiry” and “play-based learning.” Have they also become cliches (or something similar)?!


  5. I really like your idea of less talking about it and more doing. If I create spaces and activities that allow my students to lower their stress level as needed, I’m not sure it matters what it’s called if it works. And yes, I think it’s a fine line between buzzword and cliché. I wish the interview process allowed for the opportunity to present a portfolio (digital or otherwise) of evidence. At least in my board, that tends not to be allowed.


  6. Great post, Mike. I just enjoyed it and retweeted it. As for Aviva and Lisa, I’ll admit that self-reg went through my mind as I was preparing the post but since it wasn’t a business term, it wouldn’t be fair to include it. Like Lisa, I’ve seen that term expressed many times and in many contexts until I don’t recognize the concept at times.

    Hey, Aviva, here’s a suggestion for a post for you “Self-reg doesn’t mean what you think it means”. Set the world straight.


  7. Hi Doug, and all:) Here is my addition – if I ever hear the word Wheelhouse again it will be too soon. Also I will probably get in trouble for this but I don’t like all the Like a Pirate business. For heaven’s sake. Pirates are real. They steal and murder people. I am working on another blog post, a more thoughtful consideration of the word “modern” – which really has an existing definition and has been co-opted more recently to mean “contemporary.” I know, I am so fussy:)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve used “take it offline” and “low hanging fruit.” I think there are times they are actually useful. THe rest of your word list not so much. Someone once called me a “thought leader” in a meeting and I about fell off my chair. Not a term I would use to describe myself. I think several of those words can be useful but only in referring to someone else. Using them to refer to oneself seems over the top.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.