Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On technical terms...

Technical terms really can get troublesome at times, can't they? And they don't do you any good unless you know what they mean. Once you know what they mean, then they can become quite useful, but only then. I think an important skill in teaching is the skill of being able to define previously boring and obscure technical terms in a way that people can really understand and remember. The technical term then becomes a handy little bag in which they can condense and carry that understanding. Of course, every time someone accumulates lots of handy little bags, they can start waving them around as if everyone knows what is in them. Fellow bag-carriers might appreciate it, but everyone else needs the bags unpacked. I guess higher education sometimes consists of a teacher handing students one bag after another and saying "Unpack that one and tell me what's in it". Then we can unpack the bags for others.

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