Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The ABC’s of Education

Megan Branch, Intern

The Oxford Dictionary of Education edited by Susan Wallace, covers educational terms and concepts from the UK, the US, South Africa, Australia and Canada. Some of the words, like “Big Brother Syndrome” are unique to the 21st century while others—“regius professor”—have been around for hundreds of years. The Dictionary is UK-focused, so I thought it would be interesting to look at some terms that we don’t hear very often in the US. Below, I’ve excerpted some of the words from the “A”, “B”, “C” and “R”, “S”, “T” sections.

Active vocabulary: The range of words which an individual is able to use accurately in their speech (active spoken vocabulary), or their writing (active written vocabulary), or both of these. The active vocabulary does not include words which are only recognized and understood, either by reading or hearing, but not actually used. At most stages of learning of a language, the learner’s active vocabulary will be more limited than their comprehension. In other words, their understanding will outstrip their ability to express themselves.

Big Brother Syndrome: A growing tendency among younger learners to voice an ambition for celebrity without notable achievement. Derived from a reality television programme of the same name, the term is now in widespread use by teachers and other professionals involved in work with young people. It expresses a concern not only about values, but also about the difficulties of motivating learners toward academic achievement or useful qualifications which learners themselves may dismiss as irrelevant to their goal of being thrust into a celebrity lifestyle, since their Big Brother role models often make a virtue of having achieved fame despite having little or no academic success at school.

Controlled schools: A specific kind of school in Northern Ireland, owned and funded by the *Education and Library Boards. Boards of governors are now taking more control. These are mainly Protestant schools and the Church is represented on the board of governors.

Regius professor:*Professorships (or chairs) at the *universities of Oxford and Cambridge and some Scottish universities, which were funded, or endowed, by the Crown and for which the Crown retains the right to nominate appointees. In practice, candidates are chosen on the advice of senior government ministers. The first such chair to be founded was that of Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University in the 15th century.

Summative assessment: *Assessment which takes place at the end of a course of study and provides the final judgment on, or ‘sums up,’ the candidate’s performance. The most common form of summative assessment is the end examination.

Tripos: A course of study leading to an *honours degree at Cambridge University, where the student is required to pass two tripos examinations in order to be awarded their *Bachelor of Arts. The name refers to the three-legged stool on which, in medieval times, graduates sat to deliver a satirical speech at their degree ceremony.

Recent Comments

  1. […] we’ve been posting a series of Dictionary posts so be sure to check out the ABC’s of math and education. The language of law is confusing at the best of times, so today’s ABC’s come from the Oxford […]

Comments are closed.