Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Having a moment that will live on for the next 45 seconds

Welcome to the A-Z blog challenge part of “Getting Schooled.”  I had to decide what my theme was going to be, because as any good teacher or administrator knows, if you don’t tell the students explicitly what they’re going to learn that day, by gum they just won’t learn it.  So I’m writing it down so that my expectations for you readers are perfectly clear, got it?

Okay, here is the theme – academic buzzwords. 

Buzzwords are words that are irritating and are part of the specific jargon used in education.  I’m sure you have some in your job as well.  Hopefully, they’re just as dumb and take the place of what we call “layman’s terms,” which is what NORMAL people would say if talking about the subject.

So let’s start with today’s word, which I hope you’re all writing down, right now.  You in the back?  Put away the cell phone and start writing this down.

Today’s buzzword is “aha moment.”

An “aha moment” is just what it sounds like – a moment of sudden insight or discovery.  This is what we want students to have in class, and sometimes they do.  It’s what every teacher is hoping will happen during the lesson.

It’s also a dumb term because there’s already a word that means the same thing – epiphany. 

As educators, why don’t we just use the word that already exists?  I’ve been told by “teacher trainers” that the term “aha moment” is used because it’s easier to understand.  I’m not buying it.  I think that’s what they decided because they’re confronted with the fact that they didn’t know the pre-existing word in the first place and are making up an excuse on the spot.  Naturally, this doesn’t instill confidence in the trainer.  

We expect our students to learn and use the vocabulary that is specific to the subject.  Why are we dumbing it down for the people who SHOULD understand it and who are supposed to make unfamiliar vocabulary accessible to students?

I steadfastly refuse to use the term “aha moment.”  When someone says it in training, a staff meeting or in a class, I immediately chime in, “You mean an epiphany?”  That probably explains why I never get called on again and all the restraining orders I have out against me. 

So, reader students, I can hear you saying now, “Ms. Marlowe, aren’t you off on a tangent? And do you really want to judge an instructor so harshly because they don’t know one word?” 

As the teacher, I get to go off on any tangents that I want.  And yes, I am judging them harshly.  If you are a language arts teacher with a limited vocabulary, you have no business teaching or making up terms.  Furthermore, I hope you were taking notes, because this is all going to be on the test.  A-ha!