Nan Austin

September 17, 2013

Generating jargon, for education or fer pirates

Sometimes jargon just gets in the way, like when education-speak takes over the conversation. But sometimes it’s a destination in itself, like on Talk Like a Pirate Day, being celebrated at Modesto Junior College – home of the Pirates – in a big way.

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Education jargon – stuffed with syllables, replete with acronyms, riddled with euphemisms – puts a layer of work between readers and ideas. It’s like a cloak of invisibility for ideas, good or bad. So I generally avoid it like the plague.

Writing education stories requires translation. For example, defining AYP can use more words than the point of the story, or I can say “federal scores for schools” and move on. Some administrators I strain to quote because of language so jargon-laden that every sentence would take a paragraph to explain.

But forget all that, because this is just too good to pass up – an online educational jargon generator at

Plug in “kids working together,” and it generates: We will synergize student-centered models through cognitive disequilibrium.

Try “save money,” and it suggests: We will mesh learner-centered mastery learning in authentic, real-world scenarios.

“Raise test scores” brings up: We will problematize assessment-driven explicit direct instruction across spatial and temporal scales.

“Meet standards” equals: We will unpack technology-infused enduring understandings within the Zone of Proximity.

The same entry brings back different, randomly generated answers – endless fun. The folks at suggest using their generator as an aid for writing reports, grant applications or accreditation assessments.

Equally valuable, the site provides lists of oft-heard verbs, adjectives, nouns and prepositional phrases peculiar to the educational universe. Not only can this help administrators see what the masses view as jargon, it can help bring back the concept of a sentence diagram.


Speaking of all things grammatical, fellow landlubbers, shiver me timbers and roll out the R’s, if Talk Like a Pirate Day ain’t sneaked up on us again.

Today, Modesto Junior College – home of the Pirates – will celebrate its 92nd year with a Talk Like a Pirate contest and lunch of barbecued hot dogs and birthday cake on the east campus quad. The college truly did hold its first classes on Sept. 19 in 1921 – the scallywags at jumped aboard and seized the day in 2002.

The details: Petey Pirate’s Birthday Bash will be hosted by the Associated Students of MJC and the MJC Foundation, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at MJC East Campus, 435 College Ave. The event is free. On-campus parking is available for $1 in student lots. For more, call the foundation at (209)575-6068.

Also celebrating the day is Erica Middaugh’s first-grade class at Martone Elementary School. “The kids look around their homes to find something to dress up in (we don’t want them to spend money on a costume). The teachers dress up also,” Middaugh said via email. “The kids love this day Matey. Aargh!!”

For wanderers and wenches with a fire in the belly to adopt a verbal swagger and a cutlass-edged tongue for the day (and all the scurvy bilge rats who don’t), check out the how-to section. There are links to YouTube videos, other languages and a kids section.

Personal favorite: Pirate pickup lines – no cussin’, but plenty of imaginative images, like “Come on up and see me urchins.”

Arrrrrgh, there’s even a pirate jargon generator.

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