|Educational Buzz Words
By David Engelsma
Along with the goal of "improving education in our nations public schools,
has come a host of educational buzz words. As schools attempt reform and restructuring
away from traditional modes of educating children, their communications to inform parents
about what is going on in their classrooms are often loaded with words which parents only
half understand. Christian schools also increasingly must deal with this new vocabulary as
it appears increasingly in textbooks, professional periodicals and teacher training
seminars and workshops. Unfortunately, many of these terms have no clear indisputable
definition and may mean different things to different educators. Here are our definitions
of some words frequently used in todays schools.
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD) - The inability of some children to
maintain the attention and concentration on tasks appropriate for their mental and
chronological age. ADD children display impulsivity, inattention, and sometimes
- Brainstorming - An activity in which students offer all kinds of ideas
or suggestions for problems or gather ideas for a writing project. It involves the
free-flowing expression of ideas.
- Cooperative learning - Students are placed in small groups so that they
can work together to achieve certain learning objectives in the classroom.
- High-order thinking skills - Students are asked to do more than just
remember facts. They are analyzing and evaluating facts.
- Learning disability - A disorder in children of average or above
average intelligence who are achieving significantly below expectation in one or more
academic areas and whose test results suggest a neurological basis for this performance.
The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the
result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps; of mental retardation or of cultural or
- Manipulatives - Real objects designed to help young children develop
skill in the use of their hands. Older students use physical objects to learn the
significance of measurement and geometry or use three dimensional models to more easily
grasp difficult concepts in various fields of science.
- Portfolio - A collection of childrens schoolwork including their
own opinions of their work and progress used by some schools as an alternative to or in
conjunction with report cards for verifying and reporting on student achievement.
- Multiculturism - An attempt to develop student aware- ness of the
contributions of previously neglected cultures as well as an understanding of the
differences that exist within a particular culture.
- Strategies - Systematic plans for achieving special goals or results.
- Standardized tests - Published tests which usually are given to a wide
group of students. They frequently are used to compare a students academic growth
- Outcome based education (OBE) - A catch phrase for programs that vary
in the degree to which they depart from traditional education, but share certain key
features: All classroorn instruction is geared toward learner outcomes established by
state education officials or in some cases, local districts. Each student is believed to
be capable of achieving the learner outcomes, but it is expected that some will not learn
as quickly or in the same ways as others. Therefore, individual students are given
whatever time and supplemental instruction educators believe they need to meet the
outcomes. The learner outcomes de-emphasize proficiency in traditional subjects such as
math, science and literature. Instead, OBE incorporates studies in these traditional
subjects into outcomes such as "problem-solving," "effective
communication" and "appreciating others." Tests of subject matter and the
recall of information fade into the background as primary measures of student success.
It is important for parents to be familiar with this new terminology for it is
indicative of the drastic shift being attempted in many schools away from basic academic
skills which can be used under any circumstances to those which are less academic, dealing
with political correctness, self- worth, attitudes, feelings, and emotions. While we know
that change is sure in its presence, recent history has proven that it is unsteady in its
gifts to us. Too often the "benefits" of change have been paid for by the
erosion of certitude of spiritual and moral values. To truly "improve or reform"
education we must first know what good education is. True education teaches us about
Gods World and how we are to live in it. There is only one way to understand either
of these correctly. Without God and His Word all education is deceitful. It may seem to
tell the truth but it never does unless it honors God. Without the Lord Jesus who is the
Way, the Truth, and the Life there is no truth-in our public schools or anywhere else.
May we with gratitude, acknowledge the Lord for our Christian schools and for the
truths of His Word in our classrooms. May our gratitude be coupled with petitions for
divine protection and guidance for the unknown future. Above all, let us pray for the
salvation of our students by and through Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.