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In Defense of Jargon

Vertical articulation, cognitive dissonance, metacognition. These are the words of people involved in the education profession. Recently there has been a movement to rid public education from what critics call "jargon." I believe that such a movement is a grave mistake.

Those who follow public education, in my opinion, would be hard-pressed to claim that the problem with public education is too many big words. As a matter of fact, I think that I could build an argument in support of the opposite--we don't have enough big words.

Ours is an academic profession. I refer to "academic" in its purest sense. Increasingly the word academic (as in, "this is a purely academic exercise") has come to mean irrelevant. This is a sad state of affairs. It should be noted that space travel, initially, was an academic pursuit.

I was recently working with a district that was considering revising the way that it keeps parents informed about the progress of their children. One segment of the administrative team felt strongly that the current report card format should be kept. Their argument was that parents understand letter grades (A,B,C,D,F), they would struggle to make sense of a standards based report card. I contended then, as I do now, that it is not the job of the public schools to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but to raise it.

To those who continue to argue for the removal of jargon from pubic education, would you be satisfied with a physician that, after a battery of tests came back to you and said, "Yep, you've got a tummy ache."

Big words have a place. They have specific meaning. They should be used by people within our profession to communicate specifically and correctly.

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