Cutting Through the Jargon: Developing Rich, Full Vocabulary While Eschewing Empty Buzzwords

George Orwell wrote, “If we don’t have the words we can’t have the thoughts.” This is true, unless of course you count jargon. With jargon you can have words and no thoughts.


In a recent article by Education Week, the authors explored the high incidence of jargon used in the field of education in general and in state education plans specifically. While technical and industry-specific language is common across many fields, its usage can be exclusionary. In education, such exclusion is not a good thing – especially when educators are seeking “stakeholder engagement” (two of the biggest buzz words EdWeek’s research found).

Thinking about jargon, one begins to think about language itself. Language can serve to communicate or obfuscate. Back to George Orwell, he famously noted, it is better to use an everyday word instead of jargon whenever possible. To get our meaning across and to best convey our message, choosing the right word is paramount. We shouldn’t use big words simply for the sake of using big words, especially if they muddle and complicate our message.  Too often, complex and complicated language disconnects us from our audience rather than connects us. The true genius can explain the most complex ideas in the simplest terms – think Stephen Hawking or Neil Degrasse Tyson. Conversely, we sometimes see people use complex and convoluted communication because it creates that disconnect. For some, language provides a way to separate themselves from the other.

Despite the possible barriers that complex language may cause, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expand our vocabularies or solely rely on mono-syllabic grunts. Quite the contrary. A vast vocabulary provides a rich palette for coloring our communication. When used correctly, it provides richer dialogue and more nuanced communiqué. Indeed, a richer vocabulary will allow one to better select the appropriate wording and convey a message in the clearest and most concise manner. Too much jargon or overly complex sentences with cumbersome words have the opposite effect – meaning and substance is lost.

For children, vocabulary is the most important form of background knowledge for success in school (and, arguably, in life). With my new venture, DRAWN TO DISCOVER, our lessons seek to expand a child’s vocabulary, and, thus, expand their universe. This expanded universe helps them better communicate their ideas and build their imagination and wonder. In this manner, language connects ideas, imagination, knowledge, and people. A broader depth of knowledge and observation skills become tools to mastery.

George Orwell also wrote that “the more we use poor language, the poorer our thoughts become.” DRAWN TO DISCOVER is a tool for providing rich language and rich thoughts. If you are a subscriber, thank you for allowing us to assist you and your child on this journey. If you haven’t subscribed yet, click the button to start your journey now.

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