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Posts Tagged ‘words

Late last year I made a screen shot of this odd headline.

Ambiguous headline.

The headline was ambiguous. It was meant to highlight how a youth turned his life around. Instead it could also mean that he needed to be chemically induced to help others.

Words matter. The choice of words and how you order them helps you mean what you say. If only headline writers could say what they mean.

Now consider this passive-aggressive app rating. It was a complaint about the app disguised as a five-star rating.

This is how NOT to write a review.

Such a review is counter-productive. The bean counters only care about what works in a spreadsheet. They will not process the qualitative feedback.

Numbers matter, too. Your choice of numbers is a cryptic summary of what you value. You let others in on the secret by your choice of words. The numbers and words should be congruent. If there are inconsistencies, you lose the trust of your readers.

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Some people like the saying:

If you cannot say anything nice, don’t say anything.

I prefer:

Better to be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

Both are about self-control.

The first is something you might tell a child; the other is about reigning in the need to talk for its own sake. Then again, there are lots of adults who still need to learn to do both.

All that said, both do not apply in formative feedback. Constructive critique can sound harsh or unpleasant. No one likes to be told that the work they put in was insufficient or subpar.

It is difficult to give and receive well-meaning feedback. But without such feedback, the student does not learn.

The feedback might not be nice, but you can say it nicely. You cannot control what someone else thinks, but better to be thought a tyrant than to let them wander aimlessly.

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After reading Part 1 and Part 2 of Education Buzz Words, I distilled some of my favourite unfavourites.

In alphabetical order, my pet peeves of words and phrases used misleadingly with aplomb are:

  • 21CC (as if they are all unique and not timeless)
  • Best practices (when applied singularly and devoid of context)
  • Education (when you actually mean schooling)
  • Engagement (when this is not accompanied with empowerment)
  • Flipped classroom (when confused with flipped learning)
  • Gamification (when blindly combined or confused with game-based learning)
  • Learning (when confused with teaching, which learning is not)
  • Real world (when cited behind walled gardens)

We would do well to heed this warning from a teacher who said this in Part 1.

Teachers love buzzwords because they carry weight, but are we really understanding them? How about we become better at understanding and putting these words into practice rather than just repeating words to sound hip and cool.

July 31st is my last day as a faculty member of NIE. Before I leave, I have some parting words for members of my work family, the Centre for e-Learning.

You have started experiencing the changes that typically happen with the change in leadership. The pains are normal. Here are three tips to deal with it.

  1. Do not complain. Do something productive about it. Complaining gets you nowhere and demoralizes you and those around you.
  2. Help yourself by helping others. By this I mean two things: Take the perspective of others when you need their help. Then work towards a purpose larger than yourself.
  3. If you must (eventually) leave, do so with no regrets. Do not stay and implement half measures. Know that you have done your best so that you never have to say “I wish I had…”.

P. S. This is not goodbye. I am quite sure that it is more like see you later. 😉

It’s Friday. It’s been a long week.

It’s time to recharge. It’s time to get inspired.

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