Best Practice

Questions around learning and teaching are always close to me. It’s true that if I had to choose between being a full-time writer and a full-time teacher, I would choose writing without a lot of thought. Without any thought; but not without regret. In my life, there’s a three-strand braid (I specify because I know there are others, and what’s more, given my history, I can do them) of learning, teaching, writing. (And learning is always a part of writing. But a two strand braid gives you nothing, unless you spend half a day twisting it into shape.)

My mind still muddles through all I’ve learned in the past three–at times, painful–years of learning about teaching and our education system. Phrases come to me…or more accurately: reactions to phrases throw me at times. Here’s one: Best Practice. You’ll hear teachers and teachers of teachers use this. It means “this is a principle of teaching that has come to be because after many years it has proven to be THE most effective way of doing _______.” And implicit: therefore, YOU should do it this way. It is, after all, Best Practice.

Now is it because I have a wandery mind, or because I’m a gemini, or ____who knows_____ that I resist the word “should?” Or I’m stubborn, stupid, and simply don’t get it?

Best Practice means that there is a preferred way. It was made very clear to me during the two practica I endured that while I was told I could develop my own path to teaching, REALLY there was Best Practice and I’d best practice it.

But I always return to this idea, from biology, that diversity is healthy for all life forms…and now even the lives of thoughts. So if I find myself gravitating to the notion that there is only one way, am I not choking or bludgeoning, or at least kicking aside, other ways? Even if I, ultimately, can choose only one way to actually DO something, might I consider others? Or create mental alloys from considering combinations? Won’t diversity of thought work best in a world where each student is at the very least just a bit different from another, and another?

Best Practice or Mental Alloys.