Education Buzzword Bracketology

Hey kids, are you ready for a little spring break fun?

Over the next few days, millions of Americans will participate in what is termed “bracketology” – the process of predicting the field of college basketball participants and the outcome of games in the upcoming Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. Billions of dollars will be wagered by fans and casual observers through office pools, sports bookies, or on online gambling sites.

The American Gaming Association estimated that 40 million Americans filled out more than 70 million brackets and wagered $9 billion on the 2015 NCAA tournament alone.

Well, while I doubt my little adventure into education bracketology will be nearly as catching or exciting as the real thing, it could still be entertaining. But, for that to happen, you have to play!

buzzwords3As the title implies, my bracketology will focus on something we are all very familiar with – education buzzwords.

“Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession.” It’s unclear which profession inspired Kingman Brewster, Jr. to utter these words, but given that he was a Harvard law professor and the president of Yale University, it’s likely his experiences as an academic lifer helped shape his opinion.

Think of your work as a teacher or school leader. How many education buzzwords or phrases do you encounter in a single day, or a single meeting even? Efficacy, rigor, grit, 21st-century, student achievement, best practices, and so on. The list is extensive and mind-numbing.

For those critics who say education moves at a snail’s pace, they’re wrong … at least when it comes to terminology. Those of us who’ve been around a while know this to be true. From buzz words to phrases speakers love to use, it seems there’s a whole new vocabulary—that some call “Edubabble”—developed every couple years.

Many of these terms (think “empowerment”) have lost their meaning through overuse, becoming clichés or euphemisms. Others smuggle a lot of questionable assumptions in a seemingly innocuous package (e.g. “college- and career-ready”).

That vernacular might play well enough in school meetings and education conferences. But how does it translate when we’re talking to parents and other members of the school community?

In an age where parents and family members demand clearer communication from their local schools, jargon and buzzwords can amount to a conversation killer.  In short, it’s time to clean out the closet and throw away some of these overused terms.

Here’s where you come in.

I’ve taken the liberty to create a 64-term bracket of overused education buzzwords, broken down into four brackets:

  • Student-centered buzzwords
  • Classroom buzzwords
  • Reform-based buzzwords
  • Education buzzword phrases

While I may have missed a few, I am hoping you can find a few you’re willing to hang your hat on.

Our collective goal is to identify the WORST – the most overused and godawful terms we would all like to see vanquished from the education lexicon.

Here’s how the game will work. I need you to review each of the lists and select FOUR from each bracket to advance to the SOUR 16. You will make your selections by clicking on the link to the Google survey below.

The poll will remain open through next noon next Saturday, March 18. Please share the link with friends so we can gather input from a large cross-section of parents and educators.

Based on your responses, I will then publish a final bracket of the final 16 and we will vote again for our FOUL Four and the eventual winner of the title of “Worst Education Buzzword of 2017“.

I have my “favorites” but am interested to discover which of these terms you find the most obnoxious.

Here is the full bracket. If you would prefer to go straight to the survey, click HERE to cast your vote for the SOUR 16. Please vote only once. Stay tuned for the results next weekend.

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[table id=16 /]

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Here is the LINK again.

Thanks for playing Buzzword Bracketology!

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2 thoughts on “Education Buzzword Bracketology

  1. Mr. Miller, Thus is another great blog but I believe next Saturday is March 18th, not 17th. Also I’m having a hard time narrowing down the terms that I feel are the “worst”. There are so many!

    • You’re correct, I fixed the date, Lori. Thank you. Sorry about the tough choices. But only 16 can advance:-)

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