Educational Fads and Jargon 1 – Trevor the Curmudgeon


It’s Holiday Season. I really should be feeling generous. Everything is going well. However, I’ve been so involved lately in running meetings or workshops that my immersion in educational theories may just have reached the point where I’m gasping for air. Here’s why: “incentivize” — yup, one word. I can’t really see that it is a word, an allowable word, but if it is, it may indeed be one of the ugliest in the English language. Other than “impactful” I guess. I’m not even going to grace the offending word with a citation, as I wouldn’t want to endorse the company that offers it. The context in which I saw it: browsing around for energizers to use with smart grown-ups (rather than off-putting ones that are meant really for elementary kids), I saw a link to a site for a rewards and sanctions system that uses plastic credit cards to “incentivize” students between the ages of 11 and 18. I think it’s a sign of the end of the world. But seriously, the deeper point for me is that humans do not need a newfangled business-speak word to be curious, to be civil, or to be engaged (even if the latest wisdom seems to suggest that millennials need something vastly different than X’ers and boomers did). We just need the right conditions for the people and the topic, and learning itself will be incentive enough to jump in head first.