09 7 / 2014

Practice Inversion.  Identify an organizational practice you’ve initiated.  Answer the following four questions:

  1. What do you intend to achieve by instituting that practice?  What’s the reasoning behind it?
  2. What’s omitted from your understanding of the practice? What are the contradictions in your understanding of how the practice works? Which views and interpretations are unrepresented in your framing of the practice?
  3. Who benefits from the practice and who is harmed by it? Why do you not recognize those who are harmed?
  4. How could the practice be reinvented to be fairer, more effective, more inclusive or more justified by our mission?

— From Engaging Imagination by Stephen Brookfield & Alison James.

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Brookfield & James argue that a teacher who asks students to do this should model the process themselves — a good example of a “practice” would be an assignment, but it’s also easy to see how many classroom practices would be interestingly examined with this framework.  

And I think there’s a LOT about research practice that would be usefully examined this way.  Both things we like and think are important as well as things we’re not so sure of.  I think it would be interesting to examine things like source requirements, for example, against these questions and particularly interesting to hear what we’d come up with for #4.