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09 April 2015 @ 05:47 pm
Gobbledy-gook Jargon  
One of the last issuers of Smart Brief (which is the most inaptly named newsletter I can ever recall), used these words and phrases as they relate to education: REMODELING, DEPRIVATIZING PRACTICE, ENACTING AGREEMENTS, SYSTEMIC COLLABORATION. WTW? I know about remodeling. We did hat to old home several years ago when we stripped out old carpet, cabinets, and the like. We replaced old floors with new, old furniture with new. Painted, rebuilt/ I am not comfortable with this analogy for education.

Here is the primary definition of remodeling: change the structure or form of (something, especially a building, policy, or procedure). CCSS claims six shifts in instruction. Perhaps this is what remodeling is? Shift #1 is the emphasis on the reading of nonfiction texts claiming that this will assist students in becoming college and career ready. Shift #2 is the shift in text complexity (yes, because before CCSS no one read complex materials ever). Shift #3 refers to academic vocabulary. Shift #4 talks about text-based answers. Shift #5 is about increased writing from sources. The final shift, #6, is about content area literacy. Guys, I do not know how you define shifts or remodeling, but I just do not see it here. We had content area reading in the 70s and 80s. Text-based answers new? Since when? Academic vocabulary something we have never talked about before? Hardly. Most of these shifts are not new or startling or unique or any other adjective you care to use. Perhaps the attention they receive may be new to some. However, the shifts here are mostly about how many new textbooks "aligned" to these shifts we can sell, how many new products we can create.

As for deprivatizing practice and the rest, these come from an article here: http://www.literacyinlearningexchange.org/framework-capacity-building. Never in my recent experience do I recall seeing so much jargon in one location. I was genuinely confused about what this piece was all about when I began reading. Sad to report that my post reading take is still one of confusion. If this is what is meant by complexity and rigor then I think the word obfuscation would work just as well. Eschew obfuscation.

Here is my modest proposal: stop with the jargon. Stop with the claims that, if they are not completely false, are at best misleading. Stop saying that CCSS is without flaws that it is the incorrect implementation that is to blame. Stop giving away teacher autonomy. Stop accepting "research" without doing some analysis first. Stop. Stop. Stop. In the 80s, there was a fitness guru who would scream, "Stop the madness!" I echo that sentiment.

And once we stop the madness, let us proceed with the best practices: reading aloud, giving kids choice of reading materials, providing time to read at school, ensuring free and easy access to books for all kids. These best practices are rooted in substantive pedagogy; they are not without solid research that supports them. We seem, though, to be casting them aside for the new and innovative and college and career ready programs that take $$$ which could be used for books (and field trips, remember those?) and transfer those $$$ to the pockets of corporations who in David Coleman terms, do not give a s&*t about kids.
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