Friday, October 27, 2017

In Education, What's Wrong with the "It's-the-Best-We've Got Rationale?"

Over the years, as the waves of new reform efforts, federal policy initiatives, and latest educational fads have ebbed and flowed, all of them have been met by critics who questioned their efficacy and their logic. I've been one of those critics myself. What has always fascinated me was the defense of these sometimes reform measures. Take value-added measures for example.

When the statistical wizardry of value-added measures emerged, I distinctly remember their being justified as "the best measurement we've got"when their efficacy was questioned. Does anyone else see the error in that justification? Being the "best we've got" doesn't necessary make it the most effective and best means to measure learning and teaching. Rubbing two sticks together to make fire was the "best we had" until someone figured out flint rocks work better. The "best we've got" rationale doesn't necessarily equate with being effective or even right.

The next time someone uses the "best-we've-got" rationale to justify an educational practice of any kind, we should immediately call them out.

1 comment:

  1. The "best we got" argument would have justified the use of leeches to treat HIV/AIDS before we discovered antiretrovirals. I mean, did *you* have a better idea, huh? I mean, we couldn't just do nothing, could we? Except that often "the best we got" is worse than doing nothing at all.