Teaching Outside the Box
by John Pearson
Have you ever heard of "Buzzword Bingo?” Chances are, if you work in the corporate world, you've not only heard of it -- you've played it, perhaps while trapped at a boring meeting.
For anyone unfamiliar with the game, here are the rules: You try to get four boxes in a row, marking them off whenever the speaker utters one of the words or phrases inside the squares.
The game was invented because hearing these buzzwords and catchphrases so frequently will drive any normal person insane unless they can turn it into some kind of fun activity. Since drinking games are generally frowned upon at company meetings, bingo was ultimately chosen.
At my old company, the two most overused phrases were "thinking outside the box," and "shift in paradigm." Although the second term sounds like someone is moving a couple of ten cent pieces around, it actually refers to a change in your way of thinking. A modification to your old philosophy, if you will. The head of my department used this phrase just about every time he opened his mouth, and quite frequently, I found myself imagining ways to shift his paradigm for good.
When I moved to the world of teaching, I thought I had escaped the buzzword lists. Boy, was I wrong. The overused terms haven’t gone away, they've just changed.
Now, it's Academic Rigor, Socializing Intelligence, and Accountable Talk. All are worthy of bingo squares to themselves, but collectively, they go by the term "Standards of Learning," or SOL. Funny, but when I was growing up, SOL meant something COMPLETELY different.