Magazine article Momentum

To Be Perfectly Clear

Magazine article Momentum

To Be Perfectly Clear

Article excerpt

A message from Karen M. Ristau, NCEA President

Remember the episode of "M*A*S*H" when Radar tried to impress others with his grasp of sophisticated language, which in reality he did not understand at all? It was Hawkeye, most likely, who advised him to simply repeat the difficult word in a very knowing tone. For instance, in response to a doctor saying "laryngectomy," Radar would say, "Ah, yes, laryngectomy." It was then assumed everyone knew what a laryngectomy actually is, even if they did not.

People in any profession develop a way of speaking, using language with which they are very comfortable, but which the listener may not completely understand. Lawyers and medical doctors are notorious for this kind of talk. They are accused of developing professional insiders' language purposely to keep the rest of us at arm's length. Educators are not entirely innocent in this arena either. Parents accuse us of confusing them when we talk of the child's inability to grasp content clues, computational concepts or any neologism, for that matter.

Those of us in Catholic education cannot excuse ourselves from this syndrome. We often use words or terms, then nod in agreement and assume everyone is clear about the meaning. Our version of the "M*A*S*H" episode would be something like, "Catholic Identity." Response, "Ah, yes, Catholic Identity." Or "Catholic education." "Ah, yes, Catholic education."

This kind of conversation did not work for Radar. Eventually he was found out. He could say the word but could not explain exactly what the term laryngectomy meant so that another could understand. Quite embarrassing! Just tossing the terms, "Catholic identity" or "Catholic education" about does not mean others know exactly what we are talking about nor does it mean we fully know either. We cannot assume that everyone else agrees what the definition holds in reality. We need to do betterand we can.

Fortunately, this edition of Momentum will prove most useful in helping us all be clearer about what we do indeed mean. You will have the privilege of reading the results of a remarkable project, a project that stands to have unqualified positive influence for all Catholic education. This good work, done by a committee of Catholic educators headed by Dr. …

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