Elysha is looking for a teaching job for the first time in 9 years. Now that the kids are off to school and settled into their routines, it's time for her to return to the classroom.
Recently, she was looking at a school district that expects classroom instruction to be "rigorous, relevant, and respectful."
Excellent standards for instruction, but one problem:
I don't trust alliteration when it comes to policy. I will never understand the need for schools, teachers, principals, and other educational leaders to constantly use alliteration when setting forth standards. I don't understand how alliteration makes a set of standards, expectations, goals, or the like any better or more memorable. I can't understand know how or why a stylistic literary device, most often used in poetry and verse, has somehow crept into into policy and procedural standards.
I have attended meetings where valuable time has been spent trying to wedge a set of standards into a list of words that all begin with the same letter. Conversations that go something like this:
Educator A: "So we all agree. The content of this unit should be timely, topical, and culturally diverse."
Educator B: "Sure, but can we find a way of saying that diversity part with the letter T? Maybe... treats everyone equally? Or tolerant? How about timely, topical, and tolerant. Or tolerance centered? Tolerance focused? Tolerating tolerance? Yeah, that's two T words! Timely, topical, and tolerating tolerance!"
I'm not kidding. I've watched this insanity in action. Many times.
I'm not saying that "rigorous, relevant, and respectful" are not excellent standards for instruction. I just can't help but wonder what standard might have been left off the list because it didn't begin with the letter R.
Or which of these R words were added simply because when someone was brainstorming a set of standards, the unconscious desire for alliteration took hold.
Or if one of these standards isn't needed or isn't nearly as important, but the desire for alliteration altered the policy of an entire school district and the means by which thousands of children will be instructed.
Never trust alliteration. It's a signal of vocabulary manipulation that is never required and often less clear and less precise than the original, less alliterative list.