What’s worse than educational buzzwords?

Educational-buzzword-phobia: that’s what.

I recently spotted this somewhat surreal conversation online…


It goes on (ad nausium) but by this point in the comment exchange I was already picturing INSET-speaker-types in long white robes burning effigies of Benjamin Bloom (of taxonomy fame) in the gardens of head teachers whilst chanting lines from the most recent classroom-practice research paper they can get their hands on.  A paper which will probably be the topic of next month’s Two Minutes Hate.

I got to thinking what might have happened to me had I moved job every time I heard an educational buzzword which I thought was meaningless drivel (or worse).  I think in my five years on the job I’d probably have worked in most schools in England.  And I think I’d be regarded by most of my ex-colleagues at best as aloof, and at worse as a self-important t**t.  Not because they thought VAK was the best idea ever, but because ordinary people, which occasionally includes teachers, would think it a pretty bizarre thing to get your knickers in a twist over.

There is a serious point to this:

It’s possible to be a great teacher who takes inspiration from a given piece of pseudo-science (i.e. the VAK thing).  It’s possible to be a terrible one who doesn’t.  In fact, I’d dare to venture that which acronyms one does or doesn’t choose to endorse has very little meaningful effect on how well we do our jobs, unless we choose to measure our success using tick-boxes that are directly linked to specific educational fads.  Which is, of course, what some of our managers will do, but it is not what we should do.

Learning style are not going to hurt us; Bloom is not going to hurt us; spreading negativity and mistrust within the profession over such inconsequential nonsense is going to hurt us.  Borrowing an ounce of the tolerance we necessarily show towards our students and applying it to our colleagues might just help us as a profession quite a lot in times of particular stress, over-burden and retention difficulties.  So fear not the buzz-words for, as Roosevelt so memorably put it, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

2 thoughts on “What’s worse than educational buzzwords?

  1. You’re right to some extent, but the problem was in some schools, SLT announced it would be mandatory to teach with reference to them. The whole Twitter thing is about explaining that there’s no evidence for them, as well as for a lot of other fads which are promoted periodically by SLT. I think it was when I was compared to a prison warder for seating my class in rows that I, too, started researching evidence that supported my views and debunked the views of the person who made that analogy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand the practical advantages of fighting fire with fire in terms of rebutting poorly-founded claims about ‘research’ that cause bad management strategies that affect us in the classroom. But I think that there’s a danger of teachers getting on a different but equally harmful bandwagon if we swallow the axiom that anything labelled ‘research’ is to be taken seriously (whether one decides to love it or hate it). Just occasionally I see experience, intuition and even common sense subordinated to ‘research’, which I find utterly bizarre.


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