10 Words to Know for Back-To-School

3 min read

Love it or loathe it, back-to-school time is here again. Alarm clocks start the days, and Catcher in the Rye will replace the comic books. But there is much to be done before we slip into the rhythm of a new school year. Scroll through this vocabulary list of back-to-school words, and you’ll be able to kick off the school year by impressing your instructors with your lexicon.


The inability to get out of bed in the morning.

Parents of teenagers can put this new word to good use. By the time they’re in high school, students shouldn’t be relying on mom for a morning wake-up call anymore. If they cry “dysania” and tardies are racking up, suggest a backup alarm clock.


The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.

Your teachers have gone through extensive study in different methods of pedagogy to obtain their degrees. But don’t let the fancy word fool you — at its core it just means teaching. If you really want to impress your teacher, ask what philosophy of pedagogy they prefer. Knowing how they conduct their classroom and expect homework to be done might just help you earn that A.


A system of training practitioners of a trade with on-the-job training.

Education isn’t limited to the classroom. Instead of attending a four-year university, some might opt to learn a trade through an apprenticeship or vocational school. There’s good employment to be had as a plumber, aircraft mechanic, occupational therapist, construction manager, A/V technician, and countless other trades.


Of or occurring every day; daily.

Use this sophisticated adjective to describe the everyday routine of going back to school. It may not be the freedom of summer, but there’s something comforting in knowing exactly what to expect out of your day. Even if it gets a little dull.


A literary institution, lecture hall, or teaching place.

When the bell rings, ask your classmates to join you in the lyceum. The word comes from Latin, and originally referred to a gymnasium near Athens where Aristotle taught his students. By using the classical word for your lecture hall, maybe you'll be a little more likely to stay awake through the class.


A system of education for young children that seeks to develop natural interests and activities rather than use formal teaching methods.

Preschool is usually a child’s first experience with formal education, and parents may be overwhelmed trying to make the right decision. You’ll hear about Montessori schools, but don’t be intimidated by the title. It’s just a philosophy of education that puts some of the power in the hands of the children. They get to decide how to play and learn through hands-on methods.


Having or showing great knowledge or learning.

Being described as “erudite” should be your goal for this school year. The word comes from the Latin erudire, meaning to instruct. No one likes a know-it-all, but make sure to chime in on class discussions and embrace showing off the knowledge you learned during last night’s study session. Your report card will show the effort.

Socratic method

A form of debate between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas.

Have you seen the T.V. show House? An interesting medical case comes in, and Dr. House works with his team of doctors — they propose a diagnosis and House asks questions to make them defend the diagnosis. They continue down this path until either the doctor can’t answer (wrong diagnosis) or House has no more questions (potential correct diagnosis). This is an example of the Socratic method. The next time you’re in a challenging debate with your teacher and they’re pestering you with questions, just embrace the method developed by Greek philosopher Socrates. You’re likely learning more than you realize.


Intended to cause delay.

The student’s great downfall — we’ve all been victim to procrastination at some point. "Dilatory" has been used in English since the 15th century to describe things that cause delay, but the word can be traced back to the Latin dilatus, which is the past tense of the verb differre, meaning to postpone. To combat your dilatoriness, draw up a list of productive tasks you could complete while procrastinating. Clean out the pantry or organize your bookshelf. These jobs might be so boring that they get you back on track with your studies.


A phobia of books.

This isn’t just terror at the thought of entering a library. The word can also be used to describe someone with a fear of reading out loud or in public. We’ve all had stage fright at one point or another, so there's no shame in wanting to improve your reading and public speaking game.

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