Words Have Meaning, At Least Until The Product Is Rebranded

by Linda Szugyi | February 24th, 2014

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Words Have Meaning, At Least Until The Product Is Rebranded

by Linda Szu­gyi

Words have meaning.

That’s pre­cisely the rea­son why pro­gres­sives are always find­ing new words and phrases to describe the same old things. The mean­ing of a word has a pesky lit­tle way of con­vey­ing truth, and when your goals run con­trary to pub­lic opin­ion about said truth, then you had bet­ter run to the draw­ing board and find some other way to sell your snake oil, because the words “snake oil” aren’t going to sell many bottles.

Rebrand­ing” is the term used nowa­days, and when it means that an old mar­ket­ing ploy no longer con­nects to the con­sumer, it is not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing. After all, how many women today would be sold on a soap prod­uct that promises to pre­serve her dain­ti­ness?

When it means that an ide­ol­ogy no longer con­nects to vot­ers, how­ever, “rebrand­ing” is a Very Bad Thing. After all, we are talk­ing about putting a social and gov­ern­men­tal plan into oper­a­tion, not choos­ing between dif­fer­ent soaps.

When ide­ol­ogy is the sub­ject at hand, then “rebrand­ing” is another word for lying. George Orwell knew that a long time ago. Alas, rebrand­ing often works. So, the Florida leg­is­la­ture does not repeal the laws imple­ment­ing Com­mon Core, but it does strike the words “Com­mon Core” from state law, and replace it with “Florida Standards.”

Appar­ently, Iowa and Ari­zona are also under­go­ing the “rebrand­ing” pro­ce­dure for Com­mon Core imple­men­ta­tion. That which we call a rose by another name would not be as sweet, it seems.

In other words, if it smelled good wouldn’t we be sat­is­fied by call­ing it Com­mon Core?

Yes we would. Com­mon Core, how­ever, stinks. In fact, my rudi­men­tary research for this post reaf­firmed the fact that Com­mon Core is edu­ca­tional snake oil. Shoot, the item at the top of one Google search was an ad for “blamecom​mon​core​.com,” which explains that:

This web­site will seek to bring some clar­ity to this debate by using a com­mon sense approach to the Com­mon Core, based on facts and rea­soned argu­ments.… CICERO Sys­tems pro­vides this source for Com­mon Core infor­ma­tion as a ser­vice to the edu­ca­tional com­mu­nity. We invite feed­back on all aspects of Com­mon Core, with­out a polit­i­cal agenda and grounded in fac­tual evidence.”

They are a source of Com­mon Core infor­ma­tion … as a ser­vice. It’s got noth­ing to do with the fact that their eText­book soft­ware bun­dle will “rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way you teach!” Hmm. It seems that the very act of sell­ing a prod­uct is being rebranded as a pub­lic service.

Speak­ing of rebrand­ing, we need a new lan­guage in order to dis­cuss the Com­mon Core stan­dards, don’t you think? I know the stan­dards them­selves already sound like a new lan­guage. For exam­ple, check out the silly way Stan­dard 910 LS.6 explains high school­ers should learn enough words to com­mu­ni­cate like an adult, and should be able to learn new words on their own. While you are at it, notice the les­son that meets this stan­dard. It fea­tures nurs­ery rhymes and Kanye West. Nurs­ery rhymes. And Kanye West.

Any­hoo, some of us foil hat wear­ers and cot­ton­ing on to the real mean­ing of words and phrases like “rigor,” “assess­ments,” and “col­lege and career ready.” So per­haps edu­ca­tors need to come up with a new layer of impen­e­tra­ble ver­biage. Think­ing Maps has a tem­plate ready: A Com­mon Lan­guage for the Com­mon Core.

In only two short pages, this “com­mon lan­guage” man­ages to be “pecu­liarly rid­dled with such stun­ning Orwellian-​inspired dit­ties like change agent, change maker, edu­ca­tion pio­neer, thought leader, thought mer­chant, group­work, group­think and mindshift.”

I can under­stand that busi­nesses want to use the edu­ca­tion over­haul as an oppor­tu­nity to make money. But the fact that many teach­ers are actu­ally sold on this pro­foundly silly dou­ble­s­peak­ing fluff talk really bog­gles the mind.

Calvin would be proud.

academia here I come

Here is my auto-​biographical epi­logue. I should tell you more about myself, but if you enjoyed my writ­ing then really you should be thank­ing Da Tech Guy by subscribing.

by Linda Szugyi

Words have meaning.

That’s precisely the reason why progressives are always finding new words and phrases to describe the same old things.  The meaning of a word has a pesky little way of conveying truth, and when your goals run contrary to public opinion about said truth, then you had better run to the drawing board and find some other way to sell your snake oil, because the words “snake oil” aren’t going to sell many bottles.

“Rebranding” is the term used nowadays, and when it means that an old marketing ploy no longer connects to the consumer, it is not necessarily a bad thing.  After all, how many women today would be sold on a soap product that promises to preserve her daintiness?

When it means that an ideology no longer connects to voters, however, “rebranding” is a Very Bad Thing.  After all, we are talking about putting a social and governmental plan into operation, not choosing between different soaps.

When ideology is the subject at hand, then “rebranding” is another word for lyingGeorge Orwell knew that a long time ago.  Alas, rebranding often works.  So, the Florida legislature does not repeal the laws implementing Common Core, but it does strike the words “Common Core” from state law, and replace it with “Florida Standards.”

Apparently, Iowa and Arizona are also undergoing the “rebranding” procedure for Common Core implementation.  That which we call a rose by another name would not be as sweet, it seems.

In other words, if it smelled good wouldn’t we be satisfied by calling it Common Core?

Yes we would.  Common Core, however, stinks.  In fact, my rudimentary research for this post reaffirmed the fact that Common Core is educational snake oil.  Shoot, the item at the top of one Google search was an ad for “blamecommoncore.com,” which explains that:

“This website will seek to bring some clarity to this debate by using a common sense approach to the Common Core, based on facts and reasoned arguments. . . . CICERO Systems provides this source for Common Core information as a service to the educational community.  We invite feedback on all aspects of Common Core, without a political agenda and grounded in factual evidence.”

They are a source of Common Core information . . . as a service.  It’s got nothing to do with the fact that their eTextbook software bundle will “revolutionize the way you teach!”  Hmm.  It seems that the very act of selling a product is being rebranded as a public service.

Speaking of rebranding, we need a new language in order to discuss the Common Core standards, don’t you think?  I know the standards themselves already sound like a new language.  For example, check out the silly way Standard 9-10 LS.6 explains high schoolers should learn enough words to communicate like an adult, and should be able to learn new words on their own.  While you are at it, notice the lesson that meets this standard.  It features nursery rhymes and Kanye West.  Nursery rhymes.  And Kanye West.

Anyhoo, some of us foil hat wearers and cottoning on to the real meaning of words and phrases like “rigor,” “assessments,” and “college and career ready.”  So perhaps educators need to come up with a new layer of impenetrable verbiage.  Thinking Maps has a template ready:  A Common Language for the Common Core.

In only two short pages, this “common language” manages to be “peculiarly riddled with such stunning Orwellian-inspired ditties like change agent, change maker, education pioneer, thought leader, thought merchant, groupwork, groupthink and mindshift.”

I can understand that businesses want to use the education overhaul as an opportunity to make money.  But the fact that many teachers are actually sold on this profoundly silly doublespeaking fluff talk really boggles the mind.

Calvin would be proud.

academia here I come

Here is my auto-biographical epilogue.  I should tell you more about myself, but if you enjoyed my writing then really you should be thanking Da Tech Guy by subscribing.

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