Jargon/Joyful / Tales Out of School

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good11084301_10152820080385028_48227205056877781_n

Jargon/Joyful / Tales Out of School

Teaching is joyful indeed. A student once accused me of “selective memory” about her classes, but the joyful parts are the strongest. If an assignment can be made fun, if allowances can be made for individual creativity, real learning is far more likely to occur.

I loved the projects students made for Spoon River Anthology, especially the cakes, and MOST especially the clever use of a . . . wait for it . . . Tombstone Pizza.

My all-time favorite was when I assigned students first to write their own first-person narratives of events they wanted to share. With a bit of inspiration from storytellers’ tales of mischief, they created wonderful tales. Then I asked them to interview older relatives and write their stories. The results were so good I had to read and grade slowly, savoring the experience, and advised them to keep their papers safe to share with family for years to come.

All professions have their own specialized knowledge and jargon (paraphrased from an Asimov story “Profession”). Teachers’ jargon is confusing and sometimes off-putting. Talking in initials, IEP, ESL, FACS, makes it hard for parents to participate in discussions. I remember one father, pleased that his son was in all ACE classes, not realizing that was the acronym for the remedial, alternative, classes.
As the jargon changed over the years, it created a generational disconnect between teachers. NCLB pronounced “Nicklebee” was a prime stressor, and the catalyst for my only mystery, “The NCLB Murder.”

Students who went half-days to tech school, an opportunity earned by good grades and attendance and the ability to navigate the separate schedules of two schools, came back with amazing skills and their own jargon. Lewis and Clark students built a new home every year, and it always sold for top dollar. I have been watching and asking questions of the builders in my neighborhood, picking up more jargon, like piering and water torpedo. Fascinating!



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