Academic writing follow-up post 8

“The question arose: Are we writing to impress? I’m guilty. I admit wanting to sound educated. It is a fine balance of finding an intelligent voice without over-stepping boundaries. Does anyone else have trouble with this aspect?”

My feeling on your first question is that education will show through naturally when a serious topic is approached with sensitivity. Furthermore, all of us in this room are already educated to at least the Master’s level. Why shouldn’t we want to sound educated? Not doing so would be as false as attempting to appear semi-illiterate. As professionals, our peer audience expect us to maintain particular standards, and our non-specialist audience would be aghast and lose respect should we appear to talk down to them. I don’t want my medical doctor to use medical terminology with me, but I do want him or her to demonstrate that they have the control over that terminology. Similarly, I will clarify my definitions when speaking with a non-specialist, but I don’t see the need to avoid specialist terms altogether.

Demonstrating expertise to a non-specialist may even be advantageous in certain circumstances. As a teacher, I’ve had my fair share of parent-teacher meetings where parents have no clue of the learning process and are, typically, fixated on schooling and formal models as the only way to learn. A few judicious phrases that indicate the field is wider than their imagination can be helpful as a start of a more productive discussion.

Like you, I want to sound educated. I began this course to promote that desire. I believe that my peers respect this and that my students and their families respect education in teachers. As a move towards self-actualisation, fake it until you make it and ‘sounding educated’ until education resonates naturally cannot be a bad thing.

Jim

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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