Words are, to a greater or lesser extent, my business. They’re responsible for putting food on my family’s table, a roof over our head and doing that neat little trick of translating my interior world into exterior code. They are handy little blighters bless ’em.
If you asked me what my job was and I had to boil it down into a tasty little soundbite (and there are swathes out there who think they can do this, usually whilst wearing a suit, an earnest smile and daggers in their eyes) I would say that I try to teach people not to abuse words. I hate to see them mistreated so I try to teach my students not to do it. Once they can do that they can go on to find the right ones that will give clarity, meaning, and perhaps a little bit of poetry to their thoughts. I live for that shizzle.
It’s ironic, then, that educational establishments have a nasty little habit of ruthlessly taking advantage of words; twisting and torturing them until their original meaning is lost behind an ugly, brutish and willfully obtuse code.
There should be a charity dedicated to stopping this wanton cruelty. One that has TV adverts mid-afternoon on a weekday when air-time is cheap. You’d be sat there watching Dangerous Affair featuring The One With Freckles Off Little House On The Prairie I Can’t Believe How Old She Looks then they’d hit you with a tearful noun looking like it hasn’t had a good meal in weeks:
Could you spare a minute to watch this? These words need your help. You could be responsible for creating a better life for mistreated words everywhere.
Take Inclusive for example.
(Big sad puppy-dog face comes into view, probably in black and white, let’s keep it classy.)
Your sponsorship would allow us to nurture and love him for he has had a tough little life in the hands of ruthless masters. He started out happy and noble. He stood for the striving of the highest standard of the making sure none were left behind. But then he fell in with the wrong crowd.
(Cue sad violin quartet music – Adagio for Strings or something like that)
He’s now a shadow of his former self. Where once he was used as a happy, healthy term for equality he now lies there, day-in, day-out, employed only as an excuse for not providing vital additional in-class support, for ill-thought-out enrolment and streaming policies, or in the most horrific cases, as justification for the removal of the things that allow students to achieve. He now means little more than ‘deal with it yourself’.
(A single tear runs down Inclusive’s eye – that’ll get ’em.)
Could you spare just £3 a week to help rehabilitate Inclusive and many others like him? We have centres across the country for re-establishing these words’ original meanings and allowing them to become part of society again.
(Inclusive running and playing in a field of daisies – full colour now – Shiny Happy People on the soundtrack)
Please, show them you care.
(Big, hopeful smile from Inclusive)
It’s a lot to do with management culture and the language that accompanies it. As schools and colleges adhere more closely to a business model to survive in the current climate, this brings with it the appropriation of other business practices such as talking absolute tripe whilst trying to sound like it’s not. Sometimes this is subterfuge, sometimes this is to retain a sense of power, but I’ll tell you something; it’s nothing to do with education. It’s about deceit, chicanery and in the worst cases, the attempted limiting of conciousness.
Places of education should be palaces of words. They should be sanctuaries where clarity is revered because the kids deserve nothing less. But for some, that just won’t do. With clarity comes honesty and in many cases honesty means admitting something is wrong which is incredibly difficult. We need to be brave. We need to call it how we see it and we need to call-out anyone who would rather warp the meaning of a word than push for real change when something isn’t right.
Right, I’m off to look at more pictures of sad dogs.