Kenneth Wain and the Lifelong Engagement with Education
12. My Practice, Our Practice
Much of my academic work has centered on various conceptions of (educational) theory. Recently I have become interested in the concept of (educational) practice; intrigued by the fact that practice appears to be an even more difficult concept than theory. In one way practice is a commonsensical concept; it is used effortlessly in a wide variety of contexts.1 By and large we take for granted what practice is; and by and large this serves our purposes well enough, especially if the commonsensical connotation of “doing something” is sufficient. We might say things like “in my practice as …” “the therapist has a private practice,” “the assessment practices of math teachers,” and “the department’s practice in such cases is to …” We speak about good practice, best practice, malpractice, practices that can be changed and improved. But what is it, that which is “mine,” which is “good,” and can be “improved”? No great misunderstandings seem to occur in our talk about practice, despite the fact that the concept, as Wilfred Carr (1995) points out, has a plethora of meanings (p. 64). That might be because we, at some level, share an understanding of practice as a kind of phenomenon that can intelligibly be talked of as “mine,” “private,” “good,” and “improvable.” Carr furthermore suggests that any search for a unified definition will be futile since the concept simply does not have the unity that is necessary for any kind of definitive meaning to be had.
Carr may be right that “practice...
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