Speaking plain English

Here’s a challenge to communicators in education. Brett Pawlowski of DeHavilland Associates calls attention to the need for researchers and educators to better communicate with the public. He writes, “One of the major barriers to community engagement is that education’s stakeholders don’t ‘speak’ education.”

That’s true, and in my opinion the stakeholders shouldn’t have to ‘speak education.’ It’s the responsibility of researchers and educators to speak plain English more often.

Brett considers the idea of making research accessible and available ‘exciting stuff’ that feeds into a passion of his: eliminating the communications ‘fog’ that surrounds public education and re-connecting education with its stakeholders.

Brett asks, “This may sound like an impossible task, given the volume of research conducted – but is anyone doing something similar for education research as a whole? In other words, capturing all studies (or even all major/ significant/ groundbreaking studies) and translating it for the public? This would be a tremendous step forward for education communications.”

I pointed him to some efforts I’m aware of. The American Educational Research Association has a SIG called Communication of Research.

The Education Writers Association is all about getting education news out to the public.

I pointed Brett to the “cover stories” and “research notes” I produce for the WCER web site , and which are archived for a few years back.

But as far as I know there is no nationwide “research translation” project going on. Instead, individual research units at universities and related agencies like Regional Educational Labs do dissemination work in their own bailiwicks.

Also, the Educational Research Service “was established by national associations of school administrators to fill a pressing need in education for an independent organization to provide reliable, objective research and data to enable *local school district administrators* to make the most effective school decisions.”

The U.S. Education Department’s “What Works Clearinghouse” vets research studies and calls attention to those deemed most promising. But, again, that effort seems geared more toward educators than to the general public.

If you’re doing good translation work and I’ve overlooked you, forgive me. Let me know of any education dissemination efforts you’re aware of that engage in translating from “education” into plain English.


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