The Education Jargon Generator

Ever since I began work in homeschooling in 1981 I’ve made fun of how the academic community dresses up simple concepts in complex language to make their work seem more obscure and difficult to outsiders. Indeed, a popular seminar and workshop I gave throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Learning Without Curriculum, provided many examples of how to turn everyday learning into education jargon. My intention was to empower parents to see that what they primarily need to help their children learn is to be attentive to their children and genuinely enjoy encouraging their often on-again, off-again learning efforts. Therefore, learning at home is different in (jargon alert!) scope and sequence but equal or better to learning outcomes that occur in school curricula.

For instance, if a parent observes their child reading quietly for a few hours at home it is nothing out of the ordinary (unless you have a child who has resisted reading until this moment!); but to report this as an educational goal we need to think of how this works out in a school and report it through that lens. Therefore, we report how the parent created the learning environment and supervised their child’s uninterrupted, silent sustained reading (USSR) for x number of hours!

I had fun talking about this with groups and individuals over the years, but over time I noticed people were not getting the irony of my presentation as much anymore, and instead were taking earnest notes about how to report their children’s learning to schools. I hoped the verbal judo might help deflate these terms back to simple, plain English that anyone who works with children can understand and use; I now minimize this sort of talk because it seems to make people anxious about homeschooling rather than comfortable. Indeed, I was accused of cheating and lying to school officials by a homeschooler in a Learning Without Curriculum workshop once because she felt most strongly that reading for pleasure is not the same as reading under command and therefore should not be reported to the state as learning. Real learning, she insisted, is based on the curriculum first and cannot be retrofitted, as I was demonstrating.

I still enjoy this education jargon translation game though, particularly the modern turns of phrase created by the melding of technology and neuroscience to compulsory education, and this computerized Education Jargon Generator is state of the art! Here is how the creator describes the generator:

Amaze Your Education Colleagues

This fine academic tool was designed to assist in the writing of reports, grant applications, and other documents related to public schools. I believe that it will be particularly useful for people involved in writing reports for Accreditation. Amaze your colleagues with finely crafted phrases of educational nonsense! The javascript code is adapted from's Web Economy BS Generator. I would be remiss if I did not thank my district's Professional Development staff for introducing me to many of these gems. I have added prepositional phrases to this generator. My inspiration comes from the College Board's new AP Chemistry framework that includes this gem—"The student can connect phenomena and models across spatial and temporal scales.

Here is the link to generate phrases filled with education jargon: