Views & Reviews From the Frontline

Doublespeak

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39545.585336.94 (Published 10 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:836
  1. Des Spence, general practitioner, Glasgow [email protected]

    “Lively” (disruptive), “independent” (selfish), “spirited” (appallingly spoilt), “enjoys maths” (no friends), “energetic at sport” (hopelessly uncoordinated), “special aptitude at art” (innumerate), “enjoys listening to music” (tone deaf), “a delight” (will never amount to anything), “making headway with reading” (stupid and slow)—welcome to the doublespeak of school report cards and the noxious “all positive” feedback.

    Gone are the comments that spurred a generation. Our coffee stained report cards were at least honest. “Desmond would do much better if he occasionally listened.” …

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