Arguing about school reforms that go nowhere

Mar 11, 2013 by

Jay_MathewsBy Jay Mathews –

In the 1990s, Las Montanas High School (a fictional name for a real place) throbbed with excitement over technological advances in California’s Silicon Valley where it was located. Forty-four percent of the students were low-income but the school’s administrators and teachers vowed to override that handicap by turning it into a high tech magnet with a strong interdisciplinary focus.

They envisioned students learning by doing projects, and thus understanding more than ever before. Ten computer labs were scattered throughout the campus. When Stanford University scholar Larry Cuban and two of his graduate students spent the 1998-1999 school year there, the desire for change was evident.

Cuban is a former Arlington County school superintendent who defected to academia. He has spent decades examining the allegedly game-changing reforms that have swept classrooms over the 150 years. In nearly every case their effects have proven to be as ephemeral as the frequent solutions given me for my horrid slice in golf.

When Cuban revisited Las Montanas 10 years later to see what had changed, the answer was not much. Teachers used more electronic devices for administrative and instructional tasks, but teaching was still mostly lecture, discussion and homework. The Internet’s impact was shallow. “The underlying pattern of instruction,” Cuban concludes, “had largely remained teacher-centered.”

via Arguing about school reforms that go nowhere – Class Struggle – The Washington Post.

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