Intellectual's jargon busted

26th August 2005 at 01:00
It has been good to get away for a holiday and empty my brain of the bizarre education-speak through which we journalists must plough for inspiration.

A week in Holland, a country where spoken English remains free of the horrors of "modern usage" which have taken hold in the language's place of birth, seems to have done the trick.

Since then, I've needed to re-acquaint myself with education and management speak so I can effectively talk to practitioners in the world of teaching and learning to get a "heads up" on the latest challenges around the delivery of skills.

I did not need to look any further than my pigeon hole, into which had dropped the latest outpouring from the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education, an outfit which is all about "promoting adult learning", according to its logo.

Creative Writing has been put together by Rebecca O'Rourke - whose claim to fame is having run the School of Continuing Education at Leeds University where, according to its website, "Within continuing education I am interested in current and historical accounts of CE as a gendered work place and the impact of mainstreaming accreditation."

Gendered workplace? Mainstreaming education? Among intellectuals, it seems, any noun can be verbed, and Ms O'Rourke's book is full of fine examples.

For instance, there is a chapter on Peopling Local Cultures of Writing, which includes a section on "problematising progress", which contains the following nugget of crystal-clear prose:

"The difference here is that from her clear aim of modelling and encouraging 'being a writer', Gloria is freer to focus on the content and purpose of the sessions whereas Lanberis's tutor, whose aims seems (sic) closer to "doing writing", is caught within the several contradictions of trying to run a student-centred course drawn from a self-selected and incredibly diverse student body."

It's hardly Enid Blyton, but then her style is rather too literal to be recognised in the muesli-munching circles of academia.

And as for her gender-stereotyping, well, it's enough to make you blush.

If you want to know more about how to "people" a "culture", local or otherwise, or you want to know more about the difference between "doing writing" and "being a writer", you might like to contact the School of Continuing Education at Leeds University. Or perhaps not. It has just been closed down.

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