Do we still speak human?

Have you ever listened to specialists of any discipline discussing about their industry? It seems like a sort of an alien language to the most of us! Yet we could better understand whether these specialists spoke a language close to ours.

The world of Education does not escape this “tyranny” of linguistic complexity. When I read reports, or discussions on specialized blogs and forums, you could need the help of a lexicon to understand what these experts mean!

Well assuming these writings are meant to people, just people, imagine the burden it can be. From one side you need to clearly understand what they say and on the other hand get what they mean.

00 Speak Human
Image credits: Speak Human – Steve Clayton

If education is meant to make learners better people for the future of society, they need inevitably to grasp and take ownership of the concept they need to learn and not feel the pressure of such behaviour from the experts.

I remember during the graduation ceremony of my son, he graduated as an urban planner, the dean of the faculty made a circumstantial speech. I was interested to get the message that was addressed to the students. Alas, all what I heard was a sort of a soup of sophisticated words, that most of the students, the parents and eventually some of the teachers could hardly understand! At the end of her speech you could feel a sigh of relief. All what I hoped at this very moment was a couple of pills for the growing headache I was having.

It was unfortunate as this very skilled person did in fact missed an occasion to express something important to future leaders and future experts. The form of rhetoric prevailed on the essence of the true meaning of their discipline. Asking my son at the end of the ceremony if he got anything form the dean’s speech, I noted his non-verbal attitude explaining all what I was afraid of: a total disinterestedness…

Another event that happened when my elder daughter was studying at school, there were these regular meetings with teachers. My daughter had some issues in math, so for me it was obvious I wished to meet her math teacher and ask for guidance and advice. What he said to me was literally horrifying. He answered in a straight forward manner, in these terms: “Well I have no time for students who are slow! Besides I give my precious time to those who lead and who are among the best ones in class, the rest need to follow or change program!”

I know all teachers are ways better than this self-centered individual, I know how many excellent dedicated teachers spend their energy and efforts to engage their class to better understand and enjoy learning… Yet there are some who can kill the desire to learn at this time of a student’s life.

I knew later this math teacher was using mathematical terms (abbreviations, symbols, abstract concepts with no prior explanation or at least to provide students some references they could use to follow the class. I got my answer, and my daughter was lucky not to fail after memorizing half of the matter for the final exam. Did she benefit of her math class? I think you already know the answer!

This applies to various skills and disciplines in the work industries. Just listen to experts talking to each other and you can imagine how the ordinary people can feel. The hardest part remains when people do not understand they often do not ask for more clarification fearing to look different from the group, where many of the group fear the same thing!

I am now certain these two events were great lessons learned, I knew from these a lot about my domain of work. Developing training programs was not seen anymore the same way. From self-centered knowledge lessons, users becoming the real core, in their own language whether this language is their own and not part of the grammar rules! Yes! I know it will shock many, yet the fact is that it is simpler to use the users own jargon for technical or industrial courses rather than seeing them behaving like many people who do not dare asking question fearing to appear ridicule among the others. I did walk this path against what theories ay teach instructional design, or any other education program… Make people take the ownership of their lessons, their learning their knowledge. They will make it grow, they will refine t when times come…

So may we speak human? I guess the question should not be asked! We all know the answer, don’t we?

I wish you a fantastic day!

Michel – August 11, 2014

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