rationale: an underlying reason
rationalization: an excuse or more attractive explanation
Two related, but different words. Two situations to which my reasons may fall into either category.
The first came during the SIGMS Forum at NECC, when the panel was asked if the goal of "saving library jobs" was self-serving. On the surface it certainly appears so. But I personally don't look at it that way.
The library media special has some unique roles in a school - the promotion of independent reading and love of reading; the teaching of critical research and information evaluation skills; and the promotion of intellectual freedom and provision of a diversity of ideas and options that cannot be found in textbooks. While I would not argue for the retention of any one librarian, I can certainly argue for the retention of the position, just as I would argue for not eliminating art, music, PE, math, science, or any other position that offers children a unique learning experience.
The second situation comes as a response to a comment left on the Blue Skunk to a "take-away" listed Wednesday that read: Best simple idea: If you want to get teachers using online resources with kids, cut their Xerox budgets. Dan replied:
"Best Simple Idea" oughtta be retitled "Best Indication That [Whoever Pitched That One] Is Too Far Removed From Classroom Teaching For [His/Her] Own Good."
Likelier than this cheerful migration online, which the author envisions, is a lot of grumbling, ending if and only if the administration accedes funds.
I mean, carrots over sticks. Every time, right?
LC gave some support for the idea:
I like your best "simple idea." It's super environmentally friendly. If teachers that have the access to online education still use paper to teach their students, I think they need to be seriously reprimanded, maybe even put in jail for a day. Well, OK, maybe that's a bit on the harsh side, but in the spirit of educational progress, I think teachers must find reasons to use the internet and software for educational purposes. Think outside the box. On the internet, you can reverse your work almost always, and do it instantaneously without damaging the environment. On paper, you can scribble over it or erase it, but eventually you will have to ask for another sheet of paper. Webpages provide a heck of a lot more info than sheet pages. The return from purchasing internet programs and software will be noticeable within the first day you use it. It's a worthy investment.
Well, it really wasn't my idea, but it deserves some consideration. In every school I've worked at, funding is a zero-sum game. In other words, there is a finite amount that can be spent on all programs, and by spending on one thing, you have less to spend in other areas. And vice versa.
So, if we can use technology to decrease the amount of money spent on printing, paper, toner, and time spent copying, that frees up additional funds for lower class sizes, better materials, extra-curriculars, etc. One inherent advantage of placing stuff online is that doing so is virtually free.
Tom Landry once described leadership as "getting people to do what they don't want to do, in order to achieve what they want to achieve." This is that sort of leadership whether the carrot or stick approach is used.
But back to my original question. Are my responses rationales or rationalizations? To me a primary difference is that rationales are made prior to forming an opinion, whereas rationalizations often occur after the opinion has been formed - and publicly stated.
I have to admit, both of my reasons may be more rationalizations than rationales.
Did I ever mention I am not a quick thinker?