Last week, to my horror, I discovered a new verb. It has apparently existed for a time in North America but I'd never heard it so when it appeared in guidelines to NCEA changes right here in New Zealand, I cringed.
I knew at once I must actively resist such language use, especially from education authorities.
Teachers around the country were told via Ministry of Education documents that they had "to credential" something (possibly "learnings" or "client-centric outcomes"). Please join me in the fight.
"Credential" is a perfectly reasonable noun but to turn it into a verb is to render it cringeworthy in the way that all corporate-speak is cringeworthy.
The gobbledygook speakers of the corporate world have already invented the verbs "to bucketise" (put things into groups) and "to calendarise" (put something on the calendar) and for those two alone they deserve at least a detention.
But we must not let this nonsense infiltrate the hallowed world of learning. We already have "unpack" and "learning environment" and even "going forward". I've also heard "the disconnects". No more, please!
Next, at staff meetings, we will be asked to go into groups and "cross-pollinate" ideas, to "deep-dive" a topic. NO!
We can conquer these language abuses, you know. There was a period when teachers were asked "to touch base" with someone else but that has almost disappeared so there's your evidence that it can be done.
I think it might be time to reintroduce to staffrooms the "game" that some wit created a few years back. It was corporate-speak bingo but, instead of numbers, your playing board featured words or phrases such as "actionable", "110 per cent", "empower", "leverage", "back of the envelope", "paradigm shift" and "mission-critical".
In a staff meeting or similar, if you were silly enough to utter one of these atrocities, you had to put a line through it on your board. Once you had completed a full line, you had to shout "bingo" after which you were punished or at least mocked mercilessly. Or you had to buy a round of drinks on Friday afternoon.
So what are some of the other contenders for a spot on your bingo board? I'll help you with the first few because they are not for the faint-hearted.
"Open the kimono" means to reveal what is being planned or to share important information freely.
"Low-hanging fruit" means things that are easily achievable. You could, of course, just use the phrase "things that are easily achievable" but without the fruit metaphor it doesn't sound silly enough.
"Peel the onion" is an easy one. It simply means, via a vegetable metaphor, "to unpack" or "drill down".
"Drill down" is also an easy one. It simply means "to peel the onion".
"Back of the envelope" is simply a silly way of saying "initial estimate" or "rough calculation".
"Trim the fat" means "to cut costs" but, without the meat metaphor, that doesn't sound silly enough.
"Outside the box" simply means not contained within the cuboid structure.
"Impact" used as a noun will not count. It must be used as a verb to sound silly.
Others worthy of a spot on your bingo board include "head winds", "in the loop", "run it up the flagpole", "best practice" and "bring to the table".
Despite the head winds and the pain points, we should be shovel-ready to drill down and unpack the disconnects between methodology and learnings so that, upstream, we have the leverage to create a synergy we can buy in to. We must open the kimono and peel the onion and bucketise key findings so that we can, via a holistic approach, robustify and optimise the value-added benefits for our stakeholders.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.