Tuesday, September 5, 2017

#SOL17: Saying No to Best Practices



(M.A.Reilly, 2017)


I woke up this morning and realized that I am tired of best practices. In education and otherwise. Every fall with the startup of school comes the ads, tweets, and posts for best practices of this and that. It's like some absurd Seuss riddle and frankly it is well past time to say no to the whole idea of a best practice in learning. It cannot exist. The logic is flawed.

To me the use of the word, best, is an example of foolish coding.  Place that adjective before any noun and it is likely an invitation to think that the matter has been determined. When used in education to connote a practice, it begs the question why someone or group would want to reduce discussion about learning and variables and anomalies. It also belies context. How could any one practice simply be best? For whom? In what situation?

Kurt Godel's Incompleteness theorem told us that best as the exclusive correlative of excellence was simply not possible. There is always that which does not fit neatly within a given set. I wonder if we might do better to consider the exception rather than the comfortable fit? 

6 comments:

  1. I was reading a few slices this morning when I first got to school before the day got busy. I read your post aloud to the teacher I share a classroom with. We agreed, especially in light of the questions, for whom and in what situation- how can we define a teaching practice as best. I am an ESL teacher, and my colleague is a Special Education teacher... "best" often is NOT best for our students. I often hear the mantra best practices for ESL are best for other students, too. Good, maybe, but best? Not every time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane, so glad the post resonated. .i find the need for something we name as 'best' an error. It also is a way to maintain power.

      Delete
  2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! When I first heard the eduphrase "best practice," I thought WTF is that? Yes, I'm old, and I miss the days when I didn't hear all the acronyms constantly.

    This morning I told my Communication class they should question the credibility of ever teacher. That is, pose the question, "What gives this teacher authority/ethos/credibility to speak on or teach about topic X? I shared my thoughts about "highly qualified," and because I'm a bit of a rebel, I told them that under our state's ideas about "highly qualified" my big toe meets the standard.

    I'm weary of the jargon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I forgot about that highly qualified naming that was insisted upon a few years ago. Wish we focused more on the quality and deepening of thought and practice.

      Delete
  3. You are right on target with this post. Everyone has to find what is best for herself and her students in the teaching situation at hand. The phrase is just another way to constrain teachers and stifle their creativity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps. I imagine our desire to codify is one reason for terms like best. Appreciate you taking time to read this and comment. Thx.

      Delete