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Jargon Discussion Continued ...

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Loved the feedback about my last entry, "At-Risk or At-Promise," which tackled the issue of educational jargon. One reader said the switch from At-Risk to At-Promise was "just insane," while another said the phrase was "worth preserving" because it sends a positive message.

So I wanted to keep the discussion going.

What jargon about student motivation do you think is simply ridiculous or sends the wrong message? On the other hand, is there some jargon you really like and believe is worth preserving?

1 Comment

The term "at-risk" is one that I avoid entirely unless I follow it with a word or description of what the person is at risk for...i.e., "at risk for dropping out of school," at risk for being bullied," "at risk for being hit by a car," "at risk for family neglect," etc. We are ALL at-risk for something regardless of our age, social status, educational level, etc. Teachers and other educators are "at risk" for jumping to conclusions about students, for assuming that poverty ensures school failure, for giving up on students based on the opinions of others rather than reaching out to students who need motivation and caring.

As a former public school teacher, business owner, and university instructor, I now direct a non-profit mentoring program that has over 800 individuals working one-to-one with their mentees. We encourage them to be inspirations, motivators, good listeners, encouragers....in essence, "cheer leaders" who really care about the well-being of their mentees. And one of the terms we highly discourage is "at-risk" when describing their mentees.

Labels are used far too often to identify young people...and too often they carry negative connotations. Those labels tend to stick and follow the student, thus influencing others to make that same decision. (I resent being called a "Liberal" or a "Conservative" because it puts a pre-concieved picture in a person's mind before they every know me. The same is true of kids who are labeled "at-risk" without a clarifying description following it.

Sorry if this sounds like a person on a soap box, but I have seen more than one kid make a change strictly because someone didn't believe the hype that preceded their getting to know each other. I want that as an adult and every kid deserves that same consideration.

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