Let's be clear about all this gibberish

31st October 2008 at 00:00

We really should find a window to have a catch-up next week to touch base, run a few things up the flagpole, see who salutes, and make sure we're all joined at the hip at the functional detail level.

If the above proposition sounds familiar, beware. Your mind is being irradiated with gobbledegook.

High levels of exposure can lead to such language rubbing off until you yourself feel convinced that you are making perfect sense when, in fact, colleagues are tittering behind your back. Before you know it, a spade will cease to be a spade, but a single-handled substance-movement solution.

Yet there is a serious point here.

As the Learning and Skills Network has correctly identified (page 16), such pseudo-professional double speak is a threat to the efficient functioning of any organisation - and further education is no exception.

The education world should be at the forefront of using the English language in a way that is clear and unpretentious.

Sadly, it has a long way to go. From the "paradigm shift" to "scaffolding learning" and the "climbing frame of opportunity", the abuse of English by those who publish documents in the FE sector has reached a point where it threatens to undermine the very discourse on which progress depends.

By bringing attention to this problem, and being big enough to confess its own English could be improved, LSN has sparked a valuable debate. The network is indeed guilty of resorting to education's own brand of mumbo- jumbo. But like a recovering alcoholic, the organisation has got off to a good start by admitting it has a problem.

Let's hope others will follow where the LSN has led.

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