Educational Glossary: The Art of Twisting Good Things Into Monsters

The education system often has this magical ability to take something wonderful and warp it into this sick and twisted version of Frankenstein's monster that runs around the school terrorizing children and adults alike. The sad part about this is that often it's not necessarily a single individual's fault, but rather just what happens in a giant system that's aimed towards standardizing everything. In this ridiculous year, I'm learning to let things go, and part of that is through laughter. The post below represents my way overblown analysis of some of the things the school system does this with so that I can laugh about it and, hopefully, let go of my frustration in the process. For anyone in the same boat, I hope this is helpful. 

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  1. Providing students with what they need
  2. That one image that has the kids watching a baseball game behind a fence that explains the concept superficially, is used in nearly every school training, but actually doesn't get used in practice

How Our Personified School System Talks About It: 
    "Okay, so here's the deal. Every kid needs the same thing. Like, across the board, we basically just have a bunch of carbon-copied robots, so it's important that we give all of them exactly the same thing. I mean, exactly the same thing. To do anything other than that would just be widely inequitable. Can you imagine the inequity of giving kids different things? The inequity of letting kids learn a concept in different ways? It's like you don't even understand what equity is!" 
    *soft mumbling from a very brave teacher* 
    "Did you just say that I'm confused about equity?! Are you kidding me?! Last week I watched three minutes of an hour-long webinar about equity before scrolling through my phone and tuning out the rest. You can bet your sweet bippy I know what equity is. Besides, I am in charge here. If I say equity means we're all going to pretend to be monkeys and fling poop evenly across the classroom, then by golly, you're going to let the poop fly." 
    *brief interruption from a superior whispering to the personified school system* 
    "I've just been informed that because literally none of you seem to understand or care about equity, so we are having our curriculum provider come in to talk to you about equity. They have this phenomenal trainer who takes me out to dinner and was in a classroom for almost two years that is going to tell you what equity is and how their curriculum guarantees it. I don't care that you're all in different places with this concept. We are going to have an equitable training, so you all are going to sit there and soak it in like the good little sponges we presume you to be, despite never having gathered data that would tell us otherwise. That will teach you a lesson about equity."


  1. The degree of exactness with which something is copied or reproduced 
  2. The thing curriculum salespeople tell you that you MUST do with only their curriculum fully and completely followed so that you avoid finding another option that's better than theirs
How Our Personified School System Talks About It: 
    "I say this with all the sincerity in my heart: Are you high, drunk, or both? The rest of your team is on page 172 because today is the second Tuesday in the month of April, and yet here you are on page 171. Tell me honestly, do you hate children? If the answer is no (which at this point, as you're a full page behind the recommended pacing, I'm going to assume you're lying if you say no), then tell me why you're acting like you don't care about the future of these children? 
    Did you even listen to the mandated curriculum training we paid for that was a full 30 minutes long the day before students showed up in the fall to help you fully be prepared to understand and implement this curriculum? Honestly, I give and I give, and it's like you people don't even want to try. 171?! One-freaking-seventy-one?! Did you just spend a whole class period teaching students how to engage in riotous anarchy? Did you send them all out to rob banks instead of moving onto page 172? I honestly can't think of a single reason why you are not following this clearly paced out guide that was made by someone who has never even heard of our school, never met any of our kids, or never spent a single day in the classroom. Seriously. It's appalling. 
    Fidelity is the only thing between us and this riotous anarchy you seem to be spending all your time teaching our children about. How dare you."

Data Driven:

  1. Using data to inform decisions intended to lead to better outcomes for students
  2. The data wall that seems to come up in every conversation in school offices
How Our Personified School System Talks About It: 
    "Okay, so here's what we're going to do. Through a very precise process of gathering the data I was looking for, excluding outliers that didn't align with the decision I had already made, and cherry picking the things that made me feel good, I've arrived at the data that will support the route I was already planning on traveling. Thus, because there are numbers (and I mean a LOT of numbers), I'm expecting that no one will question what I'm about to say. Some of you are going to try to be like, 'But that data's out of date or not reliable.' Some of you might be like, 'That's not even relevant data to what you're talking about.' Others might go, 'Wait...that's not even our own school's data. You left the footnote on their that says it's from a different high school and is 20 years out of date.' But here's the thing: you don't have numbers behind what you're saying. I do. 
    So, based on those numbers that I quickly put up on the wall, scrolled through so fast you couldn't really see it, and then quickly closed..." 
    *teacher raises hand and politely asks for data to be sent out via email for teachers to look through* 
    "Oh, sorry, I was on the phone with Google earlier and they said my Gmail was broken. I'll keep talking to them, but you know how those robots are at fixing things." *nervous chuckle* "Anyways, based on those numbers that you all just thoroughly reviewed, it's super obvious that we needed to hire an outside agency to come in and do a very expensive audit before selling us their ridiculously expensive product to help solve our problem. They showed me their numbers, and well, they have numbers. 
    Fortunately, we actually already hired them three months ago, and now are using this data to support that decision. It's called a preemptive strike, I believe. With that, I think we all can believe that data-driven is always the best, so I don't expect anyone to have a problem with this new program we are implementing in every classroom tomorrow."

Critical Race Theory:

  1. Approaching the world with an understanding that race has had an impact in shaping much of it
How Our Personified School System Talks About It: 
    "No, stop. Just, just, shut your mouth. I can honestly already sense the phones tingling because you just said those three words. In fact, henceforth, none of those words will be allowed in our schools. I mean it. I don't want to hear the words critical, race, or theory at all. 
    Now, I know what some of you are thinking. 'What about critical thinking?' I've got to be honest. That could potentially get us into hot water. I put a pillow underneath my desk, but I'm getting really sick of hiding their every time I hear the secretary's phone ring next door. I just know it's someone calling to complain about you progressive liberals brainwashing our kids into thinking about things like whether or not they should stand up for their humanity or actually knowing things about our history the Texan textbook publishers decided was too uncomfortable for white kids to think about. Honestly, you really need to stop pushing this agenda on our students. So, I would refer prefer we just stop using the word "critical" in our classrooms. Maybe just have them memorize facts or something. Not critical thinking. It's just too risky to the status quo. 
    Also, I don't even want to hear the word "race" being used. I know this will be controversial, but we just have to cut it across the board. PE teachers... *PE teachers nudge each other to wake up in the back of the room* that means you can't have races in your class anymore. You can have competitions, contests, feuds, battles, wars, etc., but I just can't have you talking about races in your rooms. It's too risky these days. If our all-white school board catches wind that we're talking about things like this in the classroom, we might all get the axe. Or guillotine. With flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers running around, I just can't be sure which century we're using to determine our actions these days. We'll just follow the crowd.
    Oh, as for art, *art teachers stop doodling in their notebooks and try to slyly close them* we've decided to also play it safe in your classrooms. We've removed all the colors from your room. Again, just too risky. I'm just afraid that any conversation about color at all will trigger that one white kid, which will really trigger that kid's parent, which will then make me feel a little nervous during a phone call. We just can't have that happening. From now on, it's white paper, white paint, and white colored pencils. I know people are going to be mad about this, but here's what I want you to think about: Do you really want me to have to have an uncomfortable conversation with a parent on the phone so that you can provide our students the skills they need to be critical thinkers and meaningfully engage in the world around them? I feel like you all can understand where I'm coming from."

Social-emotional Learning:

  1. an education practice that integrates social and emotional skills into school curriculum to help students better understand themselves and the world around them
How Our Personified School System Talks About It: "So, let's talk about classroom management tactics..."