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Posts Tagged ‘practices

Every day for the last four years, my reflection on “best” practices gets some views. My thoughts were incomplete so I wrote a follow-up in 2015 with links to others who had written about why “best” practices might be one of the worst ideas.

Unfortunately, that term persists.

This tweet is probably one of the best arguments against the term” “Best practices lose their effectiveness when we use them as an excuse to keep doing what we’ve been doing”.

In other words, what we might think as the best practices might create complacency and stop us from thinking about next practices. What is even better? What is truly creative and innovative? What is more efficient and effective?

There are a few of my blog entries that seem to get hits every day even though they are a few years old. One of them is “Alternative to ‘best’ practices?“.

That particular reflection was a series of a few. To provide some context, I am listing my thoughts on this contentious issue in today’s entry.

  1. 15 Sep 2012: There is no BEST practice (Contexts may not transfer)
  2. 17 Sep 2012: Alternative to “best” practices? (Contexts are different; best implies there is no need to get even better)
  3. 22 Jul 2014: Can practices be transmitted? (There is signal loss; not all signals are relevant or timely)
  4. 24 Sep 2014: Be wary of “best practices”: Slides 5-9 (Best for whom? Have you considered all contexts?)

 

Just Beware by MTSOfan, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  MTSOfan 

 
I was not the first to write against “best practices” and I will not be the last. Here are a few other bloggers or authors who have been more articulate than me with their thoughts about this issue.

  1. The Sham of Best Practices by Larry Cuban
  2. Why Best Practices Don’t Work for Knowledge Work by Luis Suarez
  3. On Best Practices by Shelley Blake-Plock
  4. “Best Practice”—The Enemy of Better Teaching by Bradley Ermeling, James Hiebert, and Ronald Gallimore

 
Yesterday I asked if practices could be transmitted. Shortly after I read the forum letter that prompted that question, I experienced something at a fast food restaurant that made me question if practices can (or even should) be transplanted.

If you enter a Japanese eatery, you might be greeted with a welcome. I am quite sure that it works where it originated, but it was startling and strange to hear it at a burger joint. My guess was that the manager used to work at a Japanese eatery.

Often the people who shout the welcome parrot the greeting and they direct it no one in particular. There is no real welcome in their eyes or faces because they are just going through the motions. It does not seem to be in our DNA or culture.

We cannot simply transplant a practice that works well elsewhere without considering the context for its use.

So by all means attend sharing sessions or invest in study trips. But do not expect transplanted practices to work. It seems like common sense. The same common sense that has become a rare commodity among leaders, administrators, and policymakers.

The online Straits Times decided to feature something from My Paper (slow news day?) and in the Breaking News section no less.

The article? Kids’ errors posted online. A secondary school teacher posted “her students’ poor English usage in their assignments on her Facebook account.”

Of course people had a reaction to that. The article was careful to include the feedback from Stompers and MOE. And we know how, um, different those perspectives can be. (Several English lessons can be conducted on the article and their responses alone!)

My reaction is in the title of my entry, but I am not nonchalant about it.

There is nothing new about teachers doing this. Before Facebook there were blogs. Before blogs, there were personal Web sites and email. Before that teachers would compile these gems on paper.

The greater issue is why and how teachers do this. Are they doing this for a hearty laugh, privately I might add, among a community of practitioners? Are they also sharing these with students for the purpose of educating them instead of embarrassing them?

In either case, the paper medium used to restrict access to these gaffes. Blogs and Facebook are more public, hence the greater access and scrutiny. The public reacts to the published work but does not necessarily understand the teacher’s intentions.

Instead of reacting negatively to this event, I see this an opportunity to educate. Administrators and educators should not shy from Web 2.0 because it is an excellent platform for personal publishing and social networking. Informally it is also a platform for modelling values and practices.

In this case, how the teacher shared the examples is a key issue. If the examples were incriminating, then limit the posting to one or only an invited few. If the examples were educationally useful, then prepare them and the posting for public viewing. In the latter case, this could include clearly stating the intent, stripping the writing of all means of identifying the students, and maintaining a professional tone in the posting.

There may be a thin line in social media that divides when one is writing personally or professionally. But there is a line nonetheless. If you cross it, you deal with the circumstances.


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