Saturday, September 3, 2011

Best Practices? Don’t Bet On It!

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding. -- Albert Camus
In a profession pressured to looking for Answers, Now! to age-old human problems, nothing raises the hopes of the terminally optimistic than the prospect of a list -- short though it be -- of items baptized with the name “Best Practices.” But can we trust that so-called “best practices” have been tested adequately?

Real research in education is difficult, expensive, time-consuming, and consequently often near impossible since any involvement with human subjects requires restraints that school districts and, particularly parents are not interested or willing to meet.

Nonetheless, public school students -- one of modern America’s answers to the problem of getting experimental guinea-pigs -- are subjected to any of a number of “best practices” depending upon the inclination of their teachers and the ambitions of their school administrators. This is not necessarily anywhere near inhumane considering the boring curricula many students face in the name of academic achievement or international competition. But do the gains meet expectations?

To continue this discussion see Are "Best Practices" Good Enough?

-- EGR