Another dot in the blogosphere?

Admin speak

Posted on: February 2, 2021

When you read an article that reports that 95% of potholes were dealt with, you should react by marvelling at the efficiency of our road repairs, right?

Celebrate and praise the ones who monitor and make repairs. But also be critical of admin speak.

The percentage is about the number of potholes that we detected and reported. This does not include the ones that were not. If there were 2750 cases on paper, 2612 of them were dealt with. But the reality is that there are more than 2750 cases.

My beef is not with potholes even though they do enough damage to cars. It is with admin speak that does not tell you the whole story.

This is like ads of disinfectants that claim to kill 99.9% of germs. What exactly does that mean? Does this mean 0.1% of ALL germs remain? Or might the number refer to its ability to kill most types of germs and not be effective on 0.1%?

The first is a question of quantity while the second is about the quality. In both cases, we still need to worry about the number represented by the 0.1%. Germs replicate quickly and the ones that did not die as a result of chemical warfare are the ones we really need to worry about!

Numbers are important, but they do not tell the whole story. They often do not reveal the truth of the story, too. Admin speak is everywhere, e.g., test results, amount of online resources, teacher retention, student:teacher ratios, etc.

We need to counter admin speak with honest and critical questions like: What does this mean? Really, what does this mean? Why? You might get replies that are more admin speak. If so, repeat those questions until you can ask them no more.

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