Masters of Hyperbole

How teachers have mastered the art of exaggeration

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Often teachers find themselves in situations when they feel the need to say something smart. After all we are the masters of education, the workplace equivalent of the ‘know all’, teachers are expected to have an encyclopedic knowledge of life, the universe and everything that’s in it. Join a quiz team and the first reaction other quizzers have is “ooooh we’ve got a teacher on our team” or “we’re stuffed, they’ve got a teacher on their team”, followed by “we’ll let the teacher mark the answers, have you got a red pen?”. But of course, secretly we quite like it and we are bloody good at playing up to it.

Social Media has taken education hyperbole to a whole new level and there’s two ways of dealing this, cower and feel intimidated or try to keep up with the Jones’s with increased levels of amplification yourself. A quick look at the hashtag #educhat on Twitter and you come across a whole host of exciting updates.

  • “I’m crazy for using googleforms to get ideas and feedback from my wonderful students”. Meh! Googleforms is good but I wouldn’t go crazy over it, I go crazy over Halloween Krispy Kreme’s .
  • “I’m creating a mini SOW, which I am super excited to share with my brilliant students”. I have never been excited over any kind of SoW, especially one created Half Term, I am however super excited about sitting on the sofa and drinking wine later.
  • “This lesson is never ending” Firstly why are you tweeting during a lesson? And my guess is that it is going to finish when the big hand reaches the 12, just hang in there.
  • “I have a ton of stuff to mark”. Have you weighed it?
  • “I have a million things to do”. OK I will give you this one as a teachers job is never ending, it is as large or small as you want it to top, admittedly if you are making a mini SoW in half term or soap carvings to demonstrate anglo-saxon coins to Year 3 pupils you deserve to have no rest. My advice is be better at prioritising what is important and what is not?
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

But, is this a side effect of the completely exaggerated educational fads teachers are faced with seemingly every new school year?

It seems that each INSET day the Senior Leadership Team invite an educational expert in with the purpose of not only making you feel incompetent, but also promising to change your world for the better.

During these sessions we are bombarded with completely inflated terms which when you get past the hyperbole can actually make sense, after all most educational trends or fads originate in sensible ideas.

However, teachers are not trained marketeers or business experts and some of the language around the concepts is over elaborate and causes additional stress to the ordinary teacher who are trying to understand what on earth they are talking about. A prime example is Rosenshine’s principles of instruction which a good number of schools have adopted as a part of their CPD development and is in the main sensible, however the language surrounding it is completely incomprehensible to those who just want to get on with what they are good at, plain old teaching.

There are plenty of other examples and I will leave you to decide which of these are complete nonsense and which are actually quite useful.

  • Blooms Taxonomy – “used to create and classify learning objectives according to their level of complexity”
  • Brain Based teaching and learning – “Brain based learning is a paradigm of learning which addresses student learning and learning outcomes from the point of view of the human brain”
  • Co-operative learning – “An educational approach which aims to organise classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences”
  • Inquiry based learning – “starts from a place of questioning”
  • Thinking Hard – “Tasks designed to get students thinking hard about what they are learning, because learning happens when students have to Think hard”.
  • Learning theory – “Using educational research to transform teaching”
  • Socractic Questioning – “An educational method that focuses on discovering answers by asking questions.

There are loads more examples and teachers are bombarded daily with language which not only they do not understand but completely overstates the impact of the strategy they are being asked to use. Teachers are beginning to master the art of hyperbole, but it could be so much simpler.

It is time for senior leaders in education to stop and think about exactly what they are wanting teachers in their school to achieve and rather than piggy back onto an educational fad, simplify the message and ensure everybody is on board.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s