Sunday, October 5, 2008

You Know that you are a Bureaucracy when.......

The other day I received an email from the folks up at the division office. The Living Sky School Division Glossary of Terms. What have we become now that we need a glossary of terms to operate? Oh yeah, one step closer to a bureaucracy. The document contains 57 items of administrative happiness (kind of like the ketchup but not nearly as tasty and just as messy). To quote the email that it came with it is "designed as a reference tool to decipher many of the acronyms and terms we frequently use in use in education." If we need to decipher the terms then we are using too much jargon. Why do we always feel the need to make ourselves feel more important by fancy terms that just confuse the layman? I would expect better from us - from educators. It is our job to take ideas and concepts and explain them in simpler and easier to understand ways.

There is a blog that I read titled Common Craft - Explanations in Plain English. They create a wonderful line of videos that do exactly what the title says. They explain things - simply and clearly. No extra fluff - just the bare concept. A lot of us can learn from them. Little to no jargon.

A friend and I once put on a session at one of our conferences (the title and content is not really relevant to this conversation). What applies is how we sold ourselves to our participants. At the door to one of the keynotes we hand out our calling cards - Buzzword Bingo handouts. Each square on the bingo chart had a different educational buzzword. Our goal was to get people to really think about the message that was being said. Don't just hear the buzzwords, listen for the meaning and the message. Anyways back to the point - one of the things we discussed was handing out the bingo sheets at a staff meeting (and letting our admin know about it). The purpose was to get them to use less jargon and fewer buzzwords.

The point? Well, lets look something I learned in my first year at the College of Engineering. The KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid. We are educators. Lets keep it simple.

1 comment:

Rob Wall said...

We are educators, but the people creating and propagating the jargon are administrators. I think they are getting their jargon mainly from educational administration consultants (freelance, not to be confused with our own helpful and friendlly curriculum consultants). If they used plain English, they wouldn't be able to charge as much for their services.

The definition that made me cringe was data. Data is a very clearly defined word that is included in any dictionary of the English language. Feeling a need to redefine it reveals a fundamental disconnect from the real world.