Saturday, November 17, 2012

WTF is an "educationalist"?

I have mentioned before how I now work in a alt education role that has nothing to do with univeristies. It's an ok enough gig, but I do actually miss "the front line", so to speak. Nevertheless, it's still about education and improving life outcomes through education, which is kind of what I am all about. So that's cool.

And I think I have also mentioned before how there are quite literally TONS of these kinds of jobs out there, but that it's not something that anyone ever dreams of going into. Almost everyone I have met through this line of work has done something else before "falling into" these kind of education jobs.

But when I heard one person detailing their career trajectory into alt education they used the phrase "as an educationalist..." I couldn't help thinking "WTF is that supposed to mean?"

Has anyone else heard that phrase? It rankles with me. What does an educationalist do that an educator doesn't? I really don't understand...

I guess this is all part of my new "career" - unpacking the conventions that surround what it is that I am doing is as much a part of actually doing the job.

I wonder if maybe I should start using "educationalist" as my job title whenever anyone asks? I think I have also mentioned that I don't know what to say when people ask me what I do for a living. The explanation doesn't fit into a one line response. I was toying with using "administrator" because that seems as close as anyone really needs to know, but usually I just leave any forms blank. And then some actual admin person goes "Oh you haven't filled out the form correctly."

Why do bureacrats need to know what you do for a living? What data is it that they're collecting this vital information for anyway? I don't object to putting something like that on my tax return or the census, but I think in most other cases it makes no difference. So perhaps I will use "educationalist" now, just to mess with their figures. It's kind of like writing "Jedi Knight" when asked for your religion isn't it? What does a Jedi Knight Educationalist do I wonder? Use the force to facilitate student-centred learning? Do I need some special powers of self-awareness and inner calm for that, not to mention some really awesome martial arts skills?


  1. Not sure if this helps you in Australia, but in England 'educationalist' is usually used as a pejorative term. Here educationalists are supposedly people who conduct research in education as a subject/discipline. I'm not even sure what to call it because it's one of these amorphous pseudo-fields that draws on lots of others. This kind of research is notorious for its lack of rigour, like most interdisciplinary fields. I'm sure there are plenty of people doing respectable research in this field, but I think those people probably call themselves Marxists or Feminists or something else that's a bit more clear and recognizable. So if you come to England, I'd recommend that you don't call yourself an educationalist!

    I've been considering trying to get involved in training myself lately--I wonder if you could do a blog post on the differences between teaching and training?

  2. Yes, I've heard that term before...and I'd not recommend using it all for the same reasons as theantiacademic. It strikes me as a coverall term which means nothing and anything. I've friends who are trying to PhDs in education and another discipline (usually such as history, anthropology or something similar) but they're complaining about the enourmous lack of rigour, lack of standards, the vast body of literature that really says very little etc and they're going quite mentally spare since the workload is enourmous and doesn't justify it given the apparant flackiness of that aspect of their programme. A few are considering dropping out of the education side of their programme or trying to change their fields at such a late date, or just dropping out entirely since they're worried at being labelled as 'educationalist' which isn't a good term.

  3. Oh I see :) no wonder the term "educationalist" rankled with me when I heard someone describe themselves as one! That totally makes sense now. I thought they were stretching to make a career narrative that was probably as hapless and random as most other people's.

    Now that I am no longer an academic, I can go totally lowbrow and not worry about the implications of such terms - it's unlikely I am going to forge an academic career in any fields slightly related to education so I won't need to worry too much.

  4. In Norway you can take a pedagogisk course..pedagog translates to educationlist...and I too was like wtf..googled it and got this page...but taking a pedagogisk course here means you learn a method of teaching that is psychologically good for the students...fair....and means a pay raise as a teacher..and further career opportunities...

  5. "What does an educationalist do that an educator doesn't?"

    Or for that matter, a teacher.

  6. Yes, I think there is a large element of wishful thinking.
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