I think we invent jargon because it saves times talking to one-another.
John M. Smith
Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession.
Kingman Brewster, Jr.
There is a disconnect between those involved in Education, and part of it is language. I am not talking about English vs. any other spoken cultural language. Jargon and interpretations of what is meant causes further barriers in reaching many accords. You join “the club,” you get the secret handshake and the coded language. If you are not part of that club…you may always be on the outside wondering “what are they talking about?”
Every profession has its own terminology. Nothing new there. I hear my IT friends and son talk, and my eyes glaze over. The comic strip Dilbert is an expression of that: I don’t work in an office. So many of the “jokes” just go over my head as not funny, whereas to someone in that position finds it can be hysterical.
The disconnect I am talking about within the education field is vast. Parents, Administration, Policy Makers, Educators, Teaching Artists and the kids all approach the same field with different languages. What one group says and thinks is an honest representation of their process is often misunderstood by another group. Ahh..so, you take the time to learn the jargon, the pathways to understanding. Oooops…time for a new paradigm shift.
“Ours is the age of substitutes: instead of language, we have jargon: instead of principles, slogans: and, instead of genuine ideas, bright ideas”
Working for the NYC Dept of Education, I had the opportunity to train with an arts organization. Well known and respected, it was, for me, a true pleasure to attend this intensive Professional Development program. Arts integration orientated, it espoused inquiry, deep observation, creative thinking skills, and a very open mindset to allowing answers to form out of personal reflections. The Teaching Artist (TA) who ran the first part of the orientation was brilliant in all ways except one: she was unable to connect with the non-arts minded teachers who felt that at the end of every process there had to be ONE correct answer. The test mentality people. She was not able, for whatever reason, to bridge the gap needed to bring resistant teachers over. And there were a number of very resistant teachers to that way of thinking.
Why was I so open to it? At that point in the game, I had worn many hats in Arts-in-Education (AIE): I have been a Teaching Artist since 1996; I had years at that point of being a certified NYC teacher; I was a parent; I had worked in Arts Administration, both as the owner of my own theater company and in working with the NYC Dept of Ed (NYCDOE)’s office of Arts & Special Projects. I saw, first hand, that what was a stumbling block for the TA and the teachers was not just the concept but the language being used. This arts organization had its own jargon as well as incorporating a majority of the NYCDOE speak.
The teachers were not getting it. The ones who had the most problems came from outside the NYC school system: Westchester County, Long Island and New Jersey. So, educational language barriers of geography on top of all the rest of it. The rest of it: pure stubbornness (yes, that is my opinion after my interaction with a lot of them).