The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” — Mark Twain

PAY ‘EM: DAY 6

So, Chicago Teachers Union reps vote on the new CBA tomorrow. And now the post-mortems begin.

For instance, a New York University professor of education came up with all the answers in a CNN Op-Ed piece last night.

Now that the strike is over, the professor writes, the Chicago public schools need to be fixed.

This Just In: Fix It

Come to this space tomorrow for a statement by medical researchers that human beings must breathe clean air.

Anyway, Professor Pedro Noguera, of the NYU school of education, cites an “exhaustive study of many of the reforms carried out during the Duncan years” (current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the longtime head of the CPS). The study, Noguera tells us, discovered that schools can be made better with a combination of “effective leadership, parent-community ties, professional capacity, and a student-centered learning environment.”

Professor Noguera

That’s like saying the secret for the Chicago Cubs to become a good baseball team is to get players who hit, field, and pitch better.

And look at the last two items on the study’s recommendation list. You know what “professional capacity” means? In plain English it’s good teachers. That “student-centered learning environment”? Translation: the focus of the school system should be teaching kids.

I’m glad Professor Noguera does not teach English.

That titan of good newspaper writing and personal deity of mine, Mike Royko, once penned a column for the Chicago Daily News about something he christened Educatorese.

“Until now,” Royko wrote, “only professional educators knew how to speak educatorese, that mysterious language with which they befuddle the rest of us.”

Mike Royko

As usual, Royko was being snide. The fact is, though, in-groups of people have been utilizing terminologies and languages that the common clay can’t understand as a way elevate themselves to priestly status since humankind began scheduling meetings.

Zoologist and human sociobiologist Desmond Morris once pointed out that lawyers and doctors and scientists long ago retained Latin as their linguae francae because it was important to keep their professional secrets from, ugh, people.

Morris also mentioned how the royal houses of Russia and Poland insisted on carrying on their business in French rather than their respective national languages because, again, they didn’t want their populaces to stick their snotty noses into affairs of state.

And keep in mind that for most of the last 500 years, the Roman Catholic Church insisted its members not read the Bible since only its priests could be trusted to understand it.

Throughout human history words have divided as much as they’ve united.

One of the most baffling words imaginable is pedagogy, a fave term of educators. They speak earnestly of pedagogical outcomes, pedagogical methodologies, and, simply, the process of pedagogy.

Pedagogy means teaching.

Teachers teach.

Pedagogues obfuscate.

Royko laid out a list of terms average citizens should learn so that they could “speak like an educator without being educated.”

Pedagogical Legend, Professor Irwin Corey

Here are some of the terms Royko brought to light:

  • Interdisciplinary
  • Intrapersonal
  • Ontological
  • Attitudinal
  • Multicultural
  • Cognate
  • Conformance
  • Introversion
  • Gestalt
  • Verbalize
  • Facilitate
  • Synthesize
  • Individualize
  • Total modular exchange
  • Vertical team structure
  • Individual horizons

Some of these terms make pedagogy sound as straightforward as the word is. They all come from a careful reading of school memos, education studies, and textbooks done by actual teachers — or, more properly, pedogogic outcome facilitators.

Things haven’t changed much in the 40 years since Royko brought Educatorese to the public eye.

Students still drop out of high school in this holy land at an unconscionable rate. Many big city school systems are still viewed as boondoggles.

And pedagogical savants still run our school systems.

SCHOOL DAYS

Probably the coolest girl band ever, the Runaways.

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