Writing With Your Audience in Mind

By Nora Carr

Writing clearly is an art form. Unfortunately, it’s one that few of us in education have mastered.

Rather than use everyday terms, we use jargon and acronyms. So a child is no longer a child, but an accelerated learner, at-risk student, or ELL (English Language Learner). Even though short words work just as well, we like to use long ones. So, a plastic “ruler” becomes a “manipulative” and counting jelly beans becomes “experiential learning.”

When our words start sounding too stuffy, we create new catchphrases. So rather than admit that our high schools are too big, too easy, and too boring, we wax poetically about the need for more “rigor, relevancy, and relationships.”

While the Education Writing Hall of Shame has unlimited material to choose from, here is a classic example from a district website:

“The mission of the career and technical education department is accomplished by providing all students access to introductory and advanced coursework in specially designed learning environments that use contextual learning in order to achieve the knowledge, skills and values aligned with national industry-integrated, state and local academic standards.”

Somewhere, deep inside, we have to know better. So why do we write such convoluted prose?

Would you like to continue reading?
Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.