Beware of Education Jargon

Parents need examine such terms as literacy, multiculturalism, national average, percentile, proficiency and letter grades. They may mean something else entirely to the people running the schools.

Until I read an article from the other day, I thought I knew the meaning of “multiculturalism” as it applies to education.

Apparently it means something entirely different to some people in the Education Establishment.

To me the term “multicultural education” refers to a curriculum that includes English language, world literature in English, foreign language study, geography, and history taught from a more inclusive viewpoint than the politically privileged point of view of the white men whose interpretations prevailed in the past.

According to the reformers on the EdChange site, “multiculturism” means, “deconstructing” American culture altogether and refocusing public education on ethnic differences.

Parents need to take note of terms used by professional educators and education reformers and require them to define what they mean by them.

Parents should decide what they mean by such terms as multiculturism, charter schools, student-centered learning, differentiated instruction, inclusion, and so many other examples of educational jargon.

The first term parents need to define is the word “education.” What do you mean by it?

By “education,” do you mean a fund of general knowledge about American history and the world—information that will enable an adult to understand current events and exercise good judgment in the voting booth?

Does “education” include reading fluency?  Do you expect your child to learn to read well enough to read anything that interests her?

Or does “education” mean no more than the ability to do simple math, read package labels, and fill out an application form?

Parents need to think about such terms as literacy, multiculturalism, national average, percentile, proficiency and the letter grades A, B, C, D, and F. What do they mean to the people who are running your child’s public school?

It is an unfortunate fact that some professional “educators” not necessarily classroom teachers, but school administrators and the professionals who run teacher training schools and publishing empires, are very fond of using words to create smokescreens.

The only defense for parents is to insist that these abstract terms be defined with concrete details.

Your child spends more than a thousand hours a year in the care of teachers and other school personnel. You need to find out if your philosophy of education comes anywhere close to theirs.

Children can obtain an adequate educational foundation in most public schools, but only if parents keep a close eye on what is going on.

If you have thirty minutes or so to immerse yourself in education-speak, here is the EdChange definition of “multicultural education” that prompted this article.

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