Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bowdlerization and Newspeak

Bowdlerization: tr.v. bowd·ler·ized, bowd·ler·iz·ing, bowd·ler·iz·es
1. To expurgate (a book, for example) prudishly.
2. To modify, as by shortening or simplifying or by skewing the content in a certain manner.

[After Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), who published an expurgated edition of Shakespeare in 1818.]

LONDON (Reuters) - The word "fail" should be banned from use in British classrooms and replaced with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralizing pupils, a group of teachers has proposed.

Members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) argue that telling pupils they have failed can put them off learning for life.

A spokesman for the group said it wanted to avoid labeling children. "We recognize that children do not necessarily achieve success first time," he said.

"But I recognize that we can't just strike a word from the dictionary," he said.

The PAT said it would debate the proposal at a conference next week.


Well it seems that common sense is in retreat... oh excuse me, I mean it is "Advancing to the rear"... in all our schools, but in Britain it's running just a little bit faster.

Honestly, I could start ranting on this topic right now, and i'd be done... oh some time next week or so I'd guesss...

I mean: "But I recognize that we can't just strike a word from the dictionary,"

Excuse me for the hackneyd Orwell reference if I say it reminds me of this:
"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak," he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. "Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?" [from 1984]
The scary part is though, there are already many schools here in America that do not "fail" students. They give grades marked as "unsatisfactory" or "needs improvement" rather than F and D.

Grade inflation is a problem at all levels of education, which teachers say is for the beneift of the children, "Because they FEEL that they are doing better"

But they are not, that's the problem.

Of course to these people feelings are as imporant as results. Symbols are as (or more) important than reality. Self-esteem is the right of all etc...

Let me tell you something, self esteem isn't something that you can give out with hugs and smiles, and letting people fail by couching it in kind words. Self esteem is EARNED through COMPETITION, ACHIEVMENT, and SUCCESS. Oh and why is it that there is always talk about self esteem, but you never hear about SELF RESPECT ?

Oh my, those are dirty words arent they.

Could someone please tell me how this is somehow NOT a deliberate effort to institute an ideology of weakness, dependency, and failure?

H/T:
Francis Poretto (for the Orwell quote)