Educational Jargon

Sometimes educational jargon makes me a bit crazy. I understand that most academic educators want to make sure the level of educational terminology remains professional. I understand that. However,  I am often frustrated with the jargon used in standards for early childhood education. I was recently going through a document of proposed science standards for the new Common Core State Standards. Even at the kindergarten level, I felt like some of the standards were written in such a confusing manner and with terminology that many early childhood educators rarely use or understand.  Fortunately, there were clarification statements included so that you could fully understand what the standard was actually asking children to do. I think it is interesting that we needed to have a clarification statement next to the standard. Could the actual standard have been written in a clarifying way instead? Perhaps that would have made the standard more usable for a kindergarten teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that we want to use professional and educational language for official documents. I just sometimes feel that we get so high and mighty that we forget about the teachers who are on the font lines every day working directly with children (which is our focus…isn’t it?). I don’t mean to pinpoint only the new science standards. I find this same issue with almost every “standards” document that is published. When the new Head Start Early Childhood Framework came out last year, I learned some new words. After 30+ years in early childhood, I guess it is wonderful to learn new words. I just hope the skills described with those new words actually find their way to children.
Audrey 2012 - gymnastics 1

8 responses

  1. It might be that people in the field are responding in a roundabout way, to the comments (or the idea) of many when they say, “Oh, she’s just a kindergarten teacher.” I’ve been shocked at people who have literally said that kindergarten and preschool teachers are just glorified babysitters. Which is ultimately coming from ignorance. I don’t know if there is a connection, but I wonder if that is why the authors of early childhood books end up being too verbose. Either way, I agree that the literature needs to be educator friendly.

    1. You make a great point. I am one of the first ones that want our profession dealt with in a more professional way. I am just concerned that sometimes we use such educationally advanced language that we leave out the front line staff. They are the ones who need the information the most. Thanks for your comments!

    2. I understand what you are saying @Susana. I am not an educator, but I am an adamant believer that Parents are Teachers too. My sister, however, is an educator and she works really hard to ensure her students understand their learning materials. I mean she eats, breathes and sleeps her classwork. That’s awesome to me.
      When I hear people make light of the job our teachers do, it just makes me wonder how educated (they) really are. Teachers do what most people just simply cannot do; have patience, stay up nights preparing the following days’ work and much more. How can people say that any of them (Head start, Pre-K and K) are “just teachers?” Their jobs are critical and necessary for our children to get the learning they need while they are in that stage of “fun learning.” So I say “Good job” to all of our educators and parents who are teachers too.

  2. exactly, I think so too.

  3. I am a homeschooling mom to a third grader, second grader, and preschooler and when I read those standards I often think how convoluted all that can be. Teaching children does not have to be that difficult! In fact, my personal opinion is that it could possibly even discourage teachers.

    1. I agree and that is exactly why I posted that entry. The New Generation Science, who are creating the Common Core Standards for Science, have a good idea. While I think some of their standards are very complex and daunting, they have a ‘clarification’ section that describes the standard in terms of what a child can do. That explanation makes the standard so much more usable. Perhaps we should just have the clarification statements as the standards! Thanks so much for your commnets.

  4. Hello from across the pond. Just thought I would let you know that it is the exact same situation here in Australia. Recent changes to Early Childhood Education have paved a way for a National Curriculum to come in to the Early Years sector. The new Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is much the same in how it states the standard and then gives ideas and examples in plain English of what a child has to demonstrate in order to meet the standard. I think my biggest gripe with the way education is going is that it has become a system where the number one factor is to make children feel included and valued and “pump them up” rather than actually educating them. we no longer seem to have a balanced approach to education where we can make a child feel good about themselves as well as helping them learn that knowledge is valuable. With the way the curriculum is set up soon we will have a generation on our hands who have never learnt that life isn’t all about making them feel good and there is no such thing as not always coming out on top. education is about preparing children for the real world and let’s face it, the real world is a dog eat dog situation. How will these children cope?

  5. Great to hear from you in Australia! I really appreciate your comments. I understand clearly because we have often experienced some of the same things. Recently, however, most of our states have adopted new Common Core State Standards that helps students be more prepared for college and careers. As I have analyzed these new standards, and helped pre-service teachers begin using them to teach in elementary classrooms, I think the standards can help accomplish greater skill development. However, the standards terminology must be made clear so that teachers can actually accomplish those goals.

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