Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘semantics

Seth Godin is one of my writing heroes. He says what he means and he means what he says.

In a recent blog entry, he declared:

The way we process words changes the way we act. The story we tell ourselves has an emotional foundation, but those emotions are triggered by the words we use.

I could not agree more. Using different words are not just a matter of vocabulary or semantics. Words reveal mindsets which then dictate actions.

Most semesters I comment on examples of awkward or otherwise poor examples of essay writing.

This semester I do not share examples of writing faux pas. Instead I share a photo I took to illustrate nuance.

The photo is a screenshot of a Pokémon Go stop that someone labelled “hook up point”.

If you are an old school local, you might understand that this place is for hanging bird cages in a community space.

However, “hook up” has a broader use. When one refers to people hooking up, they are, um, managing the birds and the bees. A hook up point would then have a bad reputation.

My message to essay and paper writers is simple: Do not write for yourself, write for your reader. If you do the former, you are satisfied with what your words mean to you. If you do on the latter, you focus on communicating with readers by embracing the nuance of meaning and taking their points of view.

Integrity is not completely synonymous with honesty.

Honesty is what you have in the presence of others or when you are confronted to tell the truth. You are asked to be honest when you make a statement or if you take the stand in court.

Integrity is what you have (or lack) when you are alone. Take academic integrity, for instance. It is when you are trying to write a paper that you decide whether or not to plagiarise or to attribute. You might think of integrity as confronting yourself.

However you define honesty and integrity, they share some similarities, but they are also different. They are not entirely synonymous and that is why we have different words.

The same could be said about the flipped classroom and flipped learning. After years of combining reflective practice and critical research, I distilled two big differences between the two.

The flipped classroom swaps WHAT happens WHERE. Flipped learning changes WHO does WHAT.

  1. The flipped classroom swaps WHAT happens WHERE. Flipped learning changes WHO does WHAT.
  2. The flipped classroom focuses on engagement. Flipped learning is more about learner empowerment.

The flipped classroom focuses on engagement. Flipped learning is about learner empowerment.

The flipped classroom is still defined by what happens conventionally in a classroom. The delivery and exploration of information still needs to happen, but in a different place and manner — for example, at home. The use or practice of that information happens in the classroom where peer and expert help is, instead of outside it.

To those ends, there is nothing wrong with the flipping the classroom. However, that is to “innovate” by iteration. Teachers are still doing much of the teaching, and subsequently, the learning.

To flip learning is to focus on the learner and processes of deep learning. This means empowering students to problem-seek and problem-solve. It also means that learners create content and teach it. The teacher learns to guide from the side and to meddle from the middle.

The flipped classroom and flipped learning might share some roots and tools, e.g., the nurturing of self-directed learners and online videos. But these do not make the terms interchangeable.

Chimpanzees and man share a distant evolutionary ancestor (shared roots), but they are different animals because they diverged over millennia to where they are now. The flipped classroom and flipped learning are different animals because their practices stem from different mindsets, expectations, and educational philosophies. It is not about semantics; it is about different foundations upon which we build teaching practices.

Video source

It’s strange how some things get triggered in one’s mind. I get most of my a-ha moments when I am about to sleep or when I shower. That is why I have my iPhone and Evernote near me all the time. Too bad they aren’t waterproof.

Anyway, this video of a journalist trying to tell the Dalai Lama a joke (that crashed and burned very quickly) reminded me of a conversation I had almost a year ago.

A group of us went on a study trip to the US to get ideas on e-portfolios amongst other things. At a social gathering, I mentioned to a fellow teacher educator how technology could be replicate, enrich, enable or transform what we do in education.

I mentioned how technology could be used to replicate or enrich how we already teach and how the other two concepts, enabling and transforming, had more to do with learning rather than teaching. I also presented my concepts as a hierarchy of difficulty (e.g., easy to replicate existing teaching, difficult to transform learning).

My conversation partner disagreed with technology as an “enabler” because she had a negative view of the word, e.g., how one might be an enabler of someone else’s addiction. My perspective more positive: Using technology in ways that enable learning that could not otherwise take place in the absence of that technology.

It dawned on me then how important context and semantics are when trying to sell ideas to other people. Take the use of the word “resistance” for example. It will have different meanings to a police officer, a freedom fighter and a physics professor!

Returning to the video, the breakdown in communication could have originated in a lack of a shared understanding of what a pizza was or what “one with everything” meant. This was an issue with semantics. But there also was an issue of context: Why tell the joke in the first place?

This is a reminder to me to be where my learners are at and to realize what they might not understand.

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code

Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: