Best practice is not

‘Best practice’ is a very common phrase in education and also one that doesn’t really make sense. Here are just a few of the problems with this concept:

  1. ‘Best practice’? Says who?
  2. ‘Best practice’? Do you mean there is no alternative that might sometimes, occasionally be better?
  3. Does ‘best practice’ mean that every teacher should be doing it? If so, does it just become normal practice? (ie. Is it ‘best practice’ to stop at a red traffic light?)
  4. ‘Best practice’ can encourage complacency. In an evolving field like education, if we rest on our ‘best practice’ laurels, how will we know when the practice has become obsolete?
  5. If we just keep doing the same ‘best practice’ we risk devaluing innovation. Why would I try something new or different in my classroom if there is a known ‘best’ way to do things. ‘Best-practice’ is an enemy of creativity.
  6. Just because a practice works for one teacher or one school, doesn’t mean it will work for others. The only feature shared by every single school is: uniqueness.

Whilst we should stop using the term ‘best practice’ (try ‘effective practice’ instead), it certainly does not mean we should be ignoring excellence demonstrated by our peers or examples of successful methodologies. Of course, we need to be constantly seeking to learn from others and to refine our practice. But we need to do so through a critical lens and with a view to innovation and adaptation rather than laziness or compliance.

 

Published by

David Bott

Hi, I'm David Bott, Associate Director of the Institute of Positive Education in Australia.

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