Friday, June 02, 2006

Jargon is for idiots

The teaching profession, as one of my classmates noted tonight, is more full of jargon than any other field, save perhaps medicine. I'm including in the term "jargon" acronyms, of which the teaching profession has a bewildering array. For example, a "DRTA" is the short form for "directed reading thinking activity," an Orwellian designation, you may agree, for what is basically just reading with a purpose and discussion. Then, of course there's the "DLTA," or "directed listening thinking activity," which --- get this --- is the exact same thing, except the teacher reads a text aloud instead of students reading it silently. I mean, what the hell's the point of all this? What's the point of mandating "six plus one" traits of writing, or "the five-step writing process," or the "four linguistic concepts" a.k.a "four language systems"? It's just a bunch of nonsense that limits real-world, creative, adaptive thinking. Are beginning teachers really trying to memorize these stupid acronyms, or lists of Seven and a Half Things that Text Can Do? Instead of memorizing the labels that Bloom happened to append to his taxonomy of thought, why aren't teachers being taught how to evoke creative, analytical and evaluative thought? Remembering lists isn't going to help anyone do, or succeed at, anything.

Student teachers should be learning how to recognize learning difficulties and treat them; how to read a text with flow and expression; how to research and find information efficiently; how to write correctly and concisely; how to manage the classroom... Anything but this litany of useless lists and acronyms. No wonder so many teachers can't do their jobs. Their heads have been crammed with this meaningless drivel.

"Six plus one" traits of writing, indeed.


Tonight, the prof (Ms. L) toned her repetitive stream-of-consciousness lecturing down a notch so we got out only a few minutes, rather than a quarter of an hour, late. Despite the vast amount of paper and electronic handouts she's made available to us, the endless barrage of information gets lost in the tangle of verbal tangents and asides, so we're still not all that clear on what project is due when and what it entails.

On the other hand, the group I'm in (which is going to do a presentation, I guess, on authorial voice) has an extremely beautiful, vivacious girl in it. (She's married, I have zero interest outside of class; I'm just the kind of guy who enjoys talking to smart, pretty girls.)

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