Teaching and Instruction

What If…the power of words in transforming education


This weekend I virtually attended Educon Philly.  What a great opportunity to learn, think, dream.  So many thoughts are in my head that it will take me some time to sort it all out.  But one thought has risen to the top, stuck in my head and won’t let go of my thinking…language.  We, as educators use language all the time to convey meaning, assess understanding and communicate thoughts but have we ever thought critically about the words we use.  The words that describe out profession.  Some of these words have been around forever, indeed they are so commonplace we take them for granted, but what if we reexamined them, reevaluated them to see if they still serve our common purpose in education as it is today.  What if…

What if…instead of saying students we said learners.
What if… instead of saying of saying classrooms we said learning environments.
What if…instead of saying my students we said our learners.
What if…instead of saying teacher we said learning leader.
What if…instead of saying school we said learning centre.
What if…instead of saying social media we said learning network.
What if…instead of cell phone we said mobile learning devices (thank you Tom Whitby for creating this one).
What if….

What it really comes down to is taking control of the words we use to describe what we do, where we do it and who we engage in this work with.  If we want to transform education we need to change mindsets.  So why not start with the words we use?  What if…


6 thoughts on “What If…the power of words in transforming education”

    1. Absolutely. Administrator implies management. Facilitator on the other hand implies someone who is there to support and guide the learners. Ahh…the power of words. Thanks for the inspiration and the comment.

  1. What if instead of grades we said feedback?

    What if instead of homework we said home learning?

    Some great ideas here. We are often stuck using the same language again, and again. It hampers our ability to look outside the box we are in and see other solutions.

  2. “What if…instead of saying school we said learning centre.” How about “community learning centre”? I really like the shift from “my” to “our”. Great way to start conversations and prompt reflection on practice, action and the impact of words. Thank you.

    It’s odd… today, apropos of nothing, I thought about the difference in a coach addressing a team of girls, saying, “Okay, ladies, let’s see what we can do out there.” Then saying the same thing to an all-boys team… you bet words carry weight.

  3. Loved this! Sometimes the power in changing the words we use is that it changes the way we think about something. It broadens our vision and helps us reach to meet higher goals. I think the real challenge is in living up to these new words and making them mean something….to turn them into action and not rhetoric.

    I’m still trying to sort out all my learning from Educon. Much to think about.

    Thanks, Jenn.

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