In March of 2018, I started this post. I never finished it. However, today, on the way home from work, I saw a van that reminded me of this question. Why is everything being renamed?
The following are examples of this trend:
At school, the Guidance Office is now Student Services. Huh? What’s the difference? There must be some, or else why would they rename? Is guidance no longer offering guidance? What are the services? I am assuming they are the same as was provided through guidance. But, who can be sure…..the office was renamed.
Another recent example also comes from the world of education in Wisconsin where the programs for students taking college courses in high school used to be called Youth Options. No longer. Now, it is called the Start College Now Program and Early College! More appropriate? Perhaps, but why when it still entails students getting college credit while in high school. This renaming was done by the Department of Public Instruction, so it involves the whole state, not just a department at a local school.
What’s the difference between a District Superintendent and a District Administrator? Some district’s use one and others use the other! Do they do the same job? On the surface it appears that they do, but maybe I am misinformed, since I do not possess a doctorate in higher education.
Then, there are the upper level English Courses which have gone from being called College Prep to Advanced Composition and Advanced Research. I can make an educated guess as why this class was renamed. It was probably some attempt to avoid tracking or labeling students. I envision that it was felt that some students, perhaps going to vocational training after high school, were not taking College Prep because of the name. Maybe school leaders felt that students were thinking that if they were going straight into the workforce, they shouldn’t bother taking college prep as a course. This might have been a positive change. Clear writing skills are important for all.
Two years ago, when I went to help my high school students register for courses, I found that all the high school courses had been renamed and now consist of capital letter abbreviations and a series of numbers all strung together. The registration has also gone to a digitally based system. But, searching for the appropriate course name has been time consuming! The letter/number system seems much more complex than it has been in the past when there was a shorter code (like Chem for Chemistry) that made sense. I was told that guidance, um – I mean – student services – were told to make these changes to the course catalog. I can only imagine the number of hours that took! It was probably done utilizing work hours that students could have been “serviced” by “guidance.” Obviously, I did not understand the need for these name changes, either.
The trend of renaming things has been happening for decades. I remember standing outside a baseball stadium in Buffalo New York, at the last game underway in the facility called Pilot Field. In 30 years, that ball stadium has had five name changes! Really?! Yes, according to WikiPedia.
As with all stadium names, in recent history, they reflect who is sponsoring the field. I cannot tell you how much I dislike this! How is a family, or a city, for that matter, supposed to have enduring memories attached to a place when they all recall it as a different name? It is sad that stadium naming rights have now long been traditionally based on business support, rather than community pride, or a long lasting name with some cultural significance. And, Buffalo is not alone in this occurrence. It just happens to be a stadium rename that I recall.
Lastly, roads. Roads frequently have more than one name, too. As our communities widen and expand with suburban sprawl, a county road becomes known as something other than Route 19 or County SN. Upon moving to the Midwest, twenty years ago, this was very confusing to my husband and I. We found the same road often had three names, a county name (letters – which change as you go into a different county), a route number, if applicable, and then a given name. We very rarely use anything other than the route number or the given name. The county road names (letter) have mystified us for years. For us, it has just been more useful to ignore the multiple names and go with one for each road.
And, such as it is, with all these name changes, I still refer to the college classes taken during high school as Youth Options. I still think Chem I is more descriptive than CHEM1014B (made up but similar to what is being used). I still think high school students need guidance not service. And, I would relish going to a baseball stadium that had the same name as the one I went to as a little girl (Silver Stadium > Red Wing Stadium > Frontier Field).
What does all this mean? Optimistically, I think it means I’ve lived a long and full life to be able to recall when things were called something else. Pessimistically, it means that I’ve gotten old.
Oh, and that van I mentioned at the beginning of the post? It was signage and a name for a separate program, not a renaming of the one I thought it represented.
Now, that’s fodder for another post, entirely!