Monday, October 3, 2011

Jargon [jahr-guhn, -gon], (n)

Week 2 - Beginning of the Week

The topic of the course for this week is the ABCD model. This is yet another acronym in the Education Jargon. Well, technically it is not really an acronym because an acronym is an word formed by combining parts (usually the first letters) of some other terms. For example, "modem" is the acronym derived from modulator/ demodulator. ABCD is not a real word and, although in modern speech also called an acronym, it is actually an initialism, which is the combination of letters representing a longer term. The A stands for Audience (who are we teaching), the B for Behavior (what do we want them to be able to do), C for Condition (what tools do they have or what information are they given) and D for Degree (how well do we want them to do this).

Education theories nowadays seem to be full of acronyms, initialisms, blurred terms such as "top-down and bottom-up processes" or "metacognitive knowledge" and other edubabble. My students at teacher in-service courses and teachers colleges often ask me why we make simple stuff seem so complex by using this jargon. They are not the only ones to ask this question. A few years ago the Guardian asked "Are Teachers Using too much Jargon?". This topic has even merited official research such as work done by Philip Kerr in the ETJ Journal Volume 59/ 2 April 2005. And that it is not specifically a problem of the English teaching field can be seen here:

The etymology of the word jargon itself seems to indicate its uselessness. Jargon comes from O.Fr. jargon "a chattering of birds" also in language "idle talk or the language used by thieves". The term came into use in the mid-14th century and today means "mode of speech full of unfamiliar terms". Other similar terms are "pidgin, lingo and slang".

So why do we use so much Jargon or shouldn't we? Here the two reasons for using jargon which I usually give my students:
1. Using Education Jargon gives teachers a feeling of professional pride. They are in-the-know, they can talk about their profession using a lingo no one else understands. This in itself would already be a good enough reason because raising the self-esteem of teachers who often feel and are seen by others as being at the lowest level of professionalism should be important.
2. The Edubabble also has a very practical point. Here we are for example in this course, teachers from all over the world and from many different cultures with more native languages than there were in the Tower of Babel. The only way for us to hold a professional discussion and exchange of ideas, is if we agree on a common language and agree on the same precise technical terms for what we mean. And that is the Jargon we need to learn and practice.

Can any of you find additional reasons?

Here a Dictionary of Educational Jargon

ABCD model

Etymology of jargon
Definition of Acronym and Initialism


  1. Excellent opinion, I would like to have this video to show it to some parents in the school. they are always worried about this issue. Memorizing things sometimes is seeing as the basis of learning something.

    About Jargons, I am not very familiar with that. But I have learned to use it due to the fact that some articles are with slangs, and avrebiations. I think is a way of creating our identity as teachers and to use it as a language for teachers around the world. I like the way you think. I think there should always be both, Jargons and official words, or the usual words for things and contents.

    Regards, and nice blog.


  2. Thank you Yariela,

    The video is on YouTube under "Edubabble". It can be understood both ways, as a good way of explaining why we should not do too much drill and kill but also as a way of saying that education has gone slightly overboard towards to other extreme, where students really don't know any longer to do real work and only "think" about what they are doing...

  3. Hello Avraham,
    After reading the post on your blog I watched the video and I absolutely liked it.

    You asked if we can find any additional reasons?

    Well, I think that another reason why we should use jargon is because it's a useful shortcut of words, and of course, it can be used only between colleagues or people who will understand immediately what is being communicated.


  4. Hi Blerta!

    How is the weather in Kosovo? Here in Israel it is terribly hot.
    I agree with you. Using jargon is far more time efficient. I am glad you liked my post. Going to check now what you wrote :-)

  5. Hi Avraham,

    I read your post about using Education Jargon above. your opinion is clear and excellent. I totally agree with you. As same as Medical Jargon, people worked in the professional field have to use Jargon to keep the professionalism.