Often times in education we look at certain practices as what we call “traditional.” Here are a few examples of such practices that can be taken by administrators:
- An abundance of top-down initiatives
- Micromanagement of employees
- Telling teachers to treat the textbook as if it is the curriculum
- Universal endorsement of direct instruction and worksheets
- One size fits all professional development
My question is, when was any of this ever appropriate or research-based? It seems to me that we justify our actions by calling them traditional when they’re nothing but inexcusable.
This dilemma reminds me of the time I was conducting research on standards-based grading. To prepare myself for opposing arguments I attempted to find research supporting percentage grades. There wasn’t any. Just like there isn’t research validating any of the five bullet points featured above (or a number of other “traditional” approaches that are sometimes promoted by administrators).
I should also add that I find it bewildering that educators often throw the “progressive” label at anything that runs counter to these five examples. Aren’t we just promoting best practice? Haven’t these counterexamples been supported for years by the most credible voices in leadership and education?
I am interested in any thoughts that you may have. Why do we continue to make excuses for detrimental practices? Why is it so difficult for us to transform research into practice?
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