Jason Turgeon writes: “The textbook evaluator blog by Mark Montgomery has become a must read for me, not so much because it’s relevant to my work as because it’s so well-written.  Right now, the author is deconstructing, chapter-by-chapter, a book called Closing the Achievement Gap: A Vision for Changing Beliefs and Practices.  His reviews are vicious, funny, and fit right in with the spirit of 37signals.  He’s taking the authors to task for using unnecessarily big words simply for the sake of using big words. I’d love to see you write about this series of posts.”

Here’s an excerpt from the blog called Direct Vocabulary Instruction: An Idea Whose Time Has Come:

Anyway, all this discussion of convoluted defintions is starting to drive me crazy. The point that Marzano makes is this (drum roll, please): those kids who know more (who possess more “crystalized intelligence”, as he confusingly calls it) display higher academic achievement.

Let me state it again.

Students who know more are higher academic achievers.

Whoa. Blinding Flash of the Obvious.

So what does this have to do with direct vocabulary instruction? It means that we have to teach our kids new words. We have to provide direct instruction. We have to make them learn new words…

I “know” more words than a lot of people. Friends make fun of me when I use weird words like “limn” or “tintinabulation.”

And get this: I’m not smarter than my friends. I just know more words.


Because I studied them. I had teachers who instructed me–and taught me to love–the power of words.

Thus it irks me no end when people like Marzano have to invent new phrases and concepts. They end up obscuring the true power of words, even as they argue that our children should receive more vocabulary instruction. Even as I agreed with every word Marzano wrote, I became more and more irritated by his verbal obfuscation. Can’t academics use normal words–even if they are big ones? “Crystallized intelligence”? Please.

It’s all about knowledge. Plain. Simple. Easy to understand.

Got an interesting copywriting excerpt for Signal vs. Noise? Send the excerpt and/or URL to svn [at] 37signals [dot] com.