Bridging the Gap with Educationese: Part One of Two
Ever read stereo instructions? They are written in a language all their own. Coaxial this and auxiliary that, source unit the other. I generally just hand the jumble to my husband or eldest son and say “fix it please.” I’m fairly intelligent, well spoken and curious but honestly I really only want to understand enough to get my ipod to play music through this wireless radio thingy my son has.
Any specialty field has its own personal jargon. Homeschooling is no exception with its unit studies, trivium, living books, lapbooking, school in a box… you get the idea. Educationese is the langauge the outside world understands when it comes to teaching and learning. Unlike stereo instructions, educationese can be a creative tool, could possibly earn your children scholarships and aid you in being an ambassador for homeschoolers everywhere.
There is a communication gap growing between us and the non-homeschooling world. As homeschooling theories such as Thomas Jefferson Education (TJED), un-schooling, delight directed study and other learning lifestyle methods gain popularity, it gets increasingly difficult to translate our non-classroom experiences into something the rest of the world understands. Even families that follow a more school-at-home approach where subjects are clearly labeled have occasional communication break downs when talking with people who have never been exposed to homeschooling.
When it comes to foreign languages our motivation may be to successfully convey something as life changing as the Gospel to the unsaved in their native tongue, or as mundane as ensuring we order coffee instead of toilet paper on our vacation to Paris. Not as vital as the Gospel, nor as entertaining as requesting toilet paper in an upscale Parisian restaurant, bridging that gap is still very important and requires learning a foreign language.
Some reasons I’ve found to use educationese:
1) It gives my children a common language to use with non-homeschoolers. By knowing what learning experiences fit roughly in what categories my children gain confidence and are able to talk with others about their schooling. Ever spend weeks creating a unit study for your kids only to have them answer “nothing” when the lady at the post office asks what they did for school that day? Ouch! My eldest is respected amongst his co-workers for his school choices (even the retired school teacher!) because I work with him to give him the vocabulary they understand.
2) It unlocks my creativity. After thinking in educational terms for awhile I easily see the connections between what real life presents my family and where that fits in educational terminology. I’m then free to create lessons around their passions and interests.
3) It makes writing transcripts and learning plans much easier and effective. If your children have goals that include formal post high school instruction, a well phrased transcript opens doors that otherwise may require a pry-bar. It isn’t that your trying to falsely justifying their homeschool experience, it’s a matter of translating it so the common man can understand it. Professional homeschool transcript writing is big business, learning the language can save you money better spent on learning experiences for your children. Do not assume your child’s plans right now will be the same in 10 years. Trying to create a transcript with your grandchildren in your lap would be complicated to say the least!
Uniting all my reasons is the common theme of fear elimination. People instinctively fear what they do not understand. Fear creates a defensive, and ultimately offensive reaction. The freedom we homeschool families enjoy today is the result of pioneers in the modern homeschool movement bridging that communication gap and breaking down that fear. If the gap continues to widen, we may see our hard earned freedoms disappear.
In Part Two I’ll give you some basic terms and tools for expanding your educationese vocabulary.