A ‘paradigm shift’ in meaning

Teacher Roxanna Elden, guest-blogging for Rick Hess, writes about five words and phrases that have a different meaning for teachers. “Failure is not an option,” for example.

Actually, failure IS an option. Ironically enough, it tends to be an especially popular option at schools with giant “Failure is not an option!” posters in front of the main office.

Paradigm Shift “originally referred to discoveries so mind-boggling that they threw science’s fundamental beliefs into sharp new perspective,” Elden writes.  For example:

• “Lo and behold, Copernicus, you might just be right about the whole ‘Earth orbiting the sun’ thing. Sorry I called you a heretic. No hard, feelings, right?”
• “So, diseases are caused by tiny organisms we can’t even see and that can be killed by antibiotics? Then what am I doing with these leeches on my skin?”
• “You win, Columbus, we didn’t fall off the edge of the Earth after all.”
Now, the term paradigm shift is used to suggest the groundbreaking importance of statements such as this:
• “As you can see, we’ve rephrased box number sixteen of this evaluation rubric to include the phrases rigor and research-based. Plus, we added a graphic of a smiling apple waving a flag that says, ‘The status quo has got to go! Failure is not an option!'”

“Paradign shift’ has shifted in meaning, she writes. In any presentation, it means, “You can stop listening now.”

About Joanne


  1. That loud noise you just heard was a Paradign shifting without a clutch!



  2. It’s also been correlated to some kind of cosmic shift in “consciousness,” with disturbingly pagan popularity.

    By way of evidence, Google (all together):
    “paradigm shift” “global transformation” ritual

    Creepy and not good. Our beloved “Paradigm Shift” has shifted beyond recognition.

    At least it’s not a terribly common term.. I find that common words are more frequently misapplied for rhetoric. Memes are manipulated for political ends everywhere you look. You just about need to learn how it’s done (the pro’s call it a subtle type of magic) in order to see the manipulation that goes on and the damage it has inflicted on society, and to become immune to it. Now that would be a valuable addition to the curriculum. Monster-Meme Avoidance 101