I was looking through the obituaries in the local paper the other day (unfortunately, I am at the age where it is of some interest), and I read of a deceased woman who was described as a retired commodities relocation engineer. I looked up the term only to learn that it was another way to say truck driver. I am surprised the family felt the need to upgrade the name. I have always had a great respect for truck drivers; I couldn’t back up an 18-wheeler into a space the size of Maine. Other careers have received updated names as well. For instance, undertakers are now called after-death care providers or post-health professionals.
Our high school went through a spell for a couple of years where teachers were called facilitators and students were called learners. It was repeated ad nauseum over the intercom – perhaps in an attempt to gradually brainwash us. I am proud to say that I, along with our valiant faculty, escaped the indoctrination unscathed. However, the barrage of new terms never really stops. What would be the logical extension of this if we didn’t resist? Here is what I think might happen in a parent-teacher conference (what we might soon call a parental unit-facilitator confabulation).
Baton-Wielding Facilitator: I appreciate you coming in this afternoon to talk about your male offspring Jeremy. (Holding up a bottle of water.) Would you like a portable lifestyle beverage before we start?
Parental Unit: No, thank you. I was unsure I would be able to come. I barely found someone to take my place at work. I’m a Learner Redistribution Specialist for the district.
BWF: I didn’t know that. How long have you been driving an education transport module?
PU: Going on five years now.
BWF: That’s great. I appreciate your service. I asked for this conference because I have several concerns with Jeremy that we need to address. Last week we had a celebration of knowledge, and Jeremy was assessed at 49 percent. In fact, his needs assessments in most classes are suboptimal.
PU: Is that why he had an E on his report card? What does that mean?
BWF: Don’t worry, he is not failing, but it does mean that he is academically fragile. The E indicates he is emerging.
PU: He told me he had all As and Bs.
BWF: And that brings me to my second point. I must say that Jeremy has had several inadvertent disclosures of misinformation.
PU: Are you calling my son a liar?
BWF: Not a liar, exactly. It’s just that he likes to create a fiction from time to time.
PU: About what?
BWF: Yesterday morning, several learners observed him going through the desk in my office. I noticed later that afternoon that I had some inventory shrinkage.
PU: Are you calling my son a thief?
BWF: He said he was never in my office, but when we showed him the learner surveillance camera footage of him entering my office, he had no option but to admit it.
PU: That doesn’t mean he took anything.
BWF: We later found the temporarily displaced inventory at his individual learning station.
PU: What did he take?
BWF: My mucus recovery system and several portable handheld communication inscribers. He also took some peanut-free confectioneries we are selling in our latest program enhancement.
PU: There must be some kind of mistake!
BWF: The surveillance footage does not augment reality, and I can assure that the problem here is carbon-based. Also, I know this is difficult, but I do need to address Jeremy’s negative attention-getting in band class. He is constantly picking his teeth with a wooden interdental stimulator and then poking others in the class with it. This created much semantic violence and a collective indiscipline for the whole class. It was during this time that he made the ill-advised comment to Susie McCorkle that she exceeded the odor threshold. When class was over, the wooden interdental stimulators were all over the floor. He did not pick them up like I told him.
PU: What do we suggest we do about this?
BWF: I would suggest we enroll him in the schools Supplementary Behavioral Enhancement Program for a couple of weeks. It would be a great learning opportunity. He could work with our utensil maintenance professional in the cafeteria and our custodial engineer every afternoon for two weeks.
PU: What? If you want to know the truth, I don’t understand half of what you’ve said today, but it’s more than clear that you just don’t like my son. I’m going to go see the principal right now. I’m going to get you fired!
BWF: You may have to make an appointment with his administrative professional if you want to get me involuntarily leisured.
PU: Harrumph! (Stands. Exits angrily with audible verbal self-reinforcement.)
BWF: (Thinking to himself.) I think she has Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder.
I hope this dystopian view of the future doesn’t scare you too badly, but remember that faculty members everywhere are one weeklong administrator workshop away from a mind-numbing barrage of new terms. You must stand strong to prevent this vocabulary enhancement from happening.
* * *
A Selective Glossary
Academically fragile: failing.
Administrative professional: secretary.
Audible verbal self-reinforcement: talking to oneself.
Augment reality: lie.
Baton-wielding facilitator: band director.
Celebration of knowledge: test.
Collective indiscipline: riot.
Create a fiction: lie.
Custodial engineer: janitor.
Education transport module: school bus.
Exceed the odor threshold: stink.
Have disruptive mood dysregulation disorder: is grouchy.
Inadvertent disclosure of misinformation: lie.
Individual learning station: desk.
Inventory shrinkage: theft.
Involuntarily leisured: fired.
Learner redistribution specialist: bus driver.
Learning opportunity: something students will hate.
Mucus recovery system: tissues.
Needs assessment: testing.
Negative attention-getting: misbehavior.
Portable handheld communication inscriber: pencil.
Program enhancement: fundraiser.
Semantic violence: shouting.
Supplementary behavioral enhancement program: in-school suspension.
Temporarily displaced inventory: stolen goods.
Utensil maintenance professional: dishwasher.
Wooden interdental stimulator: toothpick.