Please Stop Saying That

As 2009 and the aughts come to a close, lots of people are presenting retrospectives on the year and decade past.

A few pundits and experts (not necessarily the same thing) are offering predictions of what to expect ahead.

This rant is neither of those.

Instead I have a request in the form of a short list of phrases that need to be retired from the public lexicon as we begin 2010.

21st Century skills

As we enter the second decade of the century, this is a cliche that has lost whatever meaning it might have had. Mostly it’s used by politicians and education experts as a catch-all for whatever concept they’re currently pushing.

The skills most often included – creativity, critical thinking, communication, etc. – are nothing unique to this century.

And they are, for the most part, the diametrical opposite of the test-driven crap that has been passed off as education reform during the past decade.

digital native/digital immigrant

As outlined in the original 2001 article, Marc Prensky’s concept of how kids differ from adults in their use of technology had some validity.

Today, it’s degenerated into another edtech cliche, far too often used by adults to excuse themselves from having to learn about the every expanding array of tools for communication and collaboration that have become part of daily life for many of us, not just kids.

web 2.0

New rule: anyone who wants to use this term, must first identify what on the web isn’t “2.0”. That should kill it fast.

And finally…

back to normal

This phrase has been used excessively during discussions about the economy but it is also invoked by leaders of companies and organizations (including those in our overly-large school district).

However, isn’t “normal” where we were when the wheels came off the bus?

In education, “normal” is the traditional system most people remember growing up with – and which isn’t working for a growing number of kids.

When it comes to teaching and learning (as well as the rest of American society), instead of longing for something called “normal” we should be working to rebuild into something better.

Ok, that’s my list. What would you add or delete?

10 Comments Please Stop Saying That

  1. Susan Socha

    “the elephant in the room” I’m so tired of this phrase! Stop talking about the problem and do something please!

  2. Tim Owens

    Such a perfect list, especially 21st Century Skills/Learning/Whatever. I would add the many poor attempts at taking the word “blog” and combining it with every other letter of the alphabet (vlog, twog, glog, slog).

  3. Diane Cordell

    I hesitate to mention this, but I feel the word “resonate” is getting a bit shopworn. It perfectly conveys meaning, but is just overused, IMHO. Can anyone suggest a viable synonym?

  4. Pingback: Yes, please! « Random Thoughts

  5. Patrick

    My thoughts exactly- So what would you propose as alternatives for 21st Century Skills? Let’s make a list for fun:
    1) “Mid 21st Century Skills”
    2) Building a “Bridge to the 22nd Century”
    3) “Snow Web 2.0X” for you Mac fanatics..

    Come on, there has to be some good ideas out there somewhere for the next generic cliche….

  6. Tim

    Patrick: I could tolerate cliches like “21st century skills” or almost any of your alternatives IF we actually put some meaning behind them. That is if we were actually helping kids learn something beyond the ability to better take standardized tests.

  7. Pingback: Langwitches Blog » 21st Century Skills-Literacies-Fluencies

  8. Pingback: 21st century skills = cliché for school « reform ? « L'espace à Zecool

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