by Wayne “Red”
Mannebach, Ph.D.

     (Re: “Ripon Area School District changes its image with a few words,” Oct. 18, 2018) Apparently the Ripon Area School District (RASD) wants to escape “out of the past,” away from “kind of an antiquated vision of what schooling looks like, what education looks like.” ...

     Besides rejecting lecturing and several visual aids, the RASD wants to eliminate terms that “bring to mind an outdated image of education.”

     For example, “student” and “teacher” will be replaced respectively by “learner” and “learning facilitator.”

     Rationale for such substitution? “The difference in vocabulary may be more empowering for students.”

     But will it compete with clear thought because of its equivocal possibilities? For instance, learning facilitators will have to be licensed. However, Barlow Park Elementary School Principal Tanya Sanderfoot reported that “even a child can take the role of a learning facilitator within a group or with their peers.”

     Will such youngsters have to be licensed like the adult learning facilitators must be? Also, what happens to the word “faculty?” Will it also be eliminated, or to whom will it refer?

     Equivocation abounds, for “learning facilitator” is being used in more than one sense, thus making Principal Sanderfoot’s use of “learning facilitator” misleading.

     Then, too, Superintendent Mary Whitrock reported that “the District is ahead of its time because it recognizes the fact that learners may not always be students.”

     For example. Dr. Whitrock said that learners could be “staff members attending a training.” She also said that learners “could be parents at a session [or] community members understanding the district, and we speak a lot about ‘learning communities’ because it could be virtual [such as a virtual charter school].”

     Such multiple uses of “learner” make equivocation quite evident. ...

     Change certainly can be advantageous, and hopefully more people will be polite, complimentary and noble in intent.

     However, such ethos should not occur at the expense of effective communication. ...

     Red Mannebach has taught for nine years at Ripon College, one year in Japan and 42 years at St. Mary’s Central High School in Neenah, teaching college-credit classes for English, speech and philosophy.

     To read the entire column, see the Nov. 1, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.