Educators must resist use of jargon, and just say what they mean
Education is changing. And the vehicle we primarily employ to express our field — words — can either promote clarity or add to confusion.
As we head into new standards, assessments, evaluations and language, let’s recognize that the newness comes under an odd use of words that we use to describe what we do. For some time, “Eduspeak” has done an ineffective job delivering our craft, culture, and general concern within the field of education. The words never reflect the event, just an agreed- upon set of symbols; representations only understood in a half-baked way. Educators rarely discuss the vague quality of language, simply because everyone recycles it without examining its origin, its impact on day-to-day operations.
And we have change coming across our once-undisturbed society. The change is dealt with reluctantly. I argue the resistance is based in ambiguity of the roles “administrator, teacher, parent” [play] and the ambiguity of the language being used.
As long as you use the word “standard and assessment” in a sentence, your approach is off to a good start. No one ever asks you what the words mean, it is a given. I’ve often thought that if you put a person into educative circles, with relative intelligence, and gave them a list of words (i.e. curriculum, lesson, outcome, measurement, dialogue, differentiated) with some context how to use them, they would fare well.
This is a broad stroke, coming across as arrogant tone. Yet if asked to play out this scenario with an open mind, the result may be enlightening. It is not the fault of the professionals working in the field, but the overuse and ill-defined backdrop of that language. The basic idea is everyone has been to school and feels as though they are a quasi-expert in all matters educative. Unfortunately, this is the only field in which most people have had some experience. By nature, we cannot allow it to have a relative, flowery word use — only a fluid set of instructions understood by all.
Therein lays further resistance. The professionals in this new field have been conditioned by the culture of common language — common to their field. And, through this insularity, [they] feel confronted by the fields of others (e.g. economics/value-added). It requires a new effort from administrators, teachers and parents.
In the end, it involves a reshaping of rhetoric that, up until this point, has had the peculiar feel of being by itself. The true job is to open channels. Through this, the gap (of language) can begin to have its voice heard. It simply starts with honest awareness of what is. Then a gentle reshaping of words to include both self and other can begin.
Richard W. Gentile III
The writer is a teacher in the Schenectady city schools.
U.S. must address our vulnerability to hackers
Computers were once a blessing, could now be a curse.
I have witnessed the entire digital revolution. Transistors were but a lab curiosity in 1952, when I completed college at RIT [Rochester Institute of Technology].
Employed at GE-KAPL, I designed vacuum tube circuits until interrupted by the 1954 draft. I returned to a transistor world, then circuits on chips, and in the late ‘70s, rudimentary computer chips. My first computer was an Atari; I retired in 1991 and became a mere observer.
My background led me to believe the Internet was more a billboard than a secure communications system and an open book to curious programmers. Government, industry and infrastructure exposed to the Internet jeopardizes us all.
According to recent reports, at present there are only those [who] know they’ve been hacked and those that remain unaware they’ve been hacked. The fact that the likes of China and Iran are the predominant hackers suggests the worst may be yet to come.
Worldwide hackers are presently documenting the computer systems that protect, operate and sustain our infrastructure. That knowledge is comparable to a weapon of mass destruction.
A well-planned cyber attack could substantially disable defense systems, power grids and air travel. Water and fuel supplies, sewer, trains and manufacturing, etc. would also be targeted. The initial attack goal would be to cause the catastrophic failure of equipment providing essential services and the factories that might reproduce it.
The United States could become a Third World country with a debilitated population having little expertise in how to survive. Chaos and famine might be inevitable.
Our government’s perceived complacency is disconcerting!
Wallace J. Hughes
Don’t let pro-choicers gloss over abortion pain
Gov. Cuomo has proposed a bill for women’s rights [Feb. 28 Gazette]. Buried in it is “The Reproductive Health Act,” which seeks to have abortion declared a “fundamental right,” prohibiting even basic and widely supported protections such as parental consent and limits on government funding of abortion.
The law would allow any “health care practitioner” to perform an abortion, jeopardize any agency that does not refer for abortion, and seriously threaten conscience protections for hospitals and medical professionals.
Let’s look at what they are truly proposing. I once saw a video of a fetus reacting to a probing pin. It reacted and pulled away from the site of irritation. It felt pain. One common way to abort is to tear apart the “fetus” inside the womb and let it flush out in pieces. Too graphic for you? Don’t blame me, tell the supporters of this “procedure.”
Among the most gruesome forms of abortion (New York state being one of the only states allowing it) is “partial-birth abortion.” This is where the fetus is allowed to be partially born, feet first, until the whole child, legs kicking and arms swinging, is outside the womb except for the head; then the skull is punctured and the brain is sucked out to reduce the size of the head in order to more easily remove the child. No pain?
Never approached by “pro-choice” advocates is the second victim of these grisly procedures: the mothers [who have the abortions]. Maybe some can bury deep enough the mental and emotional trauma, but most can not. Without support from many Christian and other support groups, these woman would live a tortured life.
Don’t allow our governor to impose his will and responsibility for these inhuman, barbaric “procedures” on the consciences of millions of New Yorkers.
Arthur Salvatore, M.D.
Can’t AG find a more serious ‘crime’ to probe?
Re Feb. 27 article, “Price Chopper faces $100K fine on coupons”: Coupon fraud? Give me a break!
The Price Chopper supermarket chain will pay a $100,000 fine for misleading consumers about its coupon policy? What a waste of taxpayers’ money on something so penny-ante as this!
We have lawmakers stealing time and money from us, unauthorized payoffs by Assembly leaders, unconstitutional bills being passed in the middle of night without any feedback from constituents, taxpayers being ripped off for millions, left and right. And, lo and behold, our brave knight in shining armor — Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — investigated and solved this blatant case of consumer fraud!
Price Chopper has done so many great things for our area, going above and beyond for our community and people, they really don’t deserve the “breaking news story” that our attorney general saw fit to hold a news conference for.
Imagine if he only had other, serious items to investigate.
State court made right call over Van Woeart
The Supreme Court’s decision justifying Princetown’s decision to remove Michelle Van Woeart as her own court clerk — she was also town judge — was a victory for residents and taxpayers [Feb. 26 Gazette]. Her attorney stated in the Gazette she was removed for political reasons, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
If residents will recall, in 2012 the Commission on Judicial Conduct censured Van Woeart for misusing her positions as both judge and court clerk for improper record-keeping in her own case.
The town spent nearly $20,000 prosecuting her for a personal dog issue that involved neighbors and their pets.
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