I listened to an online interview with one of the great education thinkers, Larry Cuban online, He is emeritus Professor of Education at Stanford University, and the author of the 2001 book “Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom.” His blog is at http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/about/, In his own words: "I am a former high school social studies teacher (14 years), district superintendent (7 years) and university professor (20 years). I have published op-ed pieces, scholarly articles and books on classroom teaching, history of school reform, how policy gets translated into practice, and teacher and student use of technologies in K-12 and college. "My most recent research projects have been a study of school reform in Austin (TX) 1954-2009 and of a large comprehensive high school in (CO) being converted into several small ones between 2001-2009. The Austin book, As Good as It Gets, is now available for purchase.
Notes and reactions to the interview:
Cuban snickered when presented with the idea that technology will be the next big "revolution" in education. Being in his 70s and having been in education all his life, he has heard it all before. He believes that schools are "not built to be transformed".
He explains this by saying that the "Fundamental mistake people make when they talk about schools is that they think schools are built around one mission; to gain knowledge and skills. He says this is no doubt an important mission, but he adds that school actually have multiple missions. These multiple missions may be anything from making citizens, securing core values of a community, making school avenue of social mobility.
* Cuban shared his experience blogging about education and explains that he has 3 criteria for himself when he writes, (1) that he writes clear, (2) maintains his writing less than 800 words, and (3) he takes a position. As a blogger it made me think about possibly setting up a similar set of criteria.
* One very interesting aspect of the interview was Cuban's ideas about school reform. A book he has written in the past addressed the "dirty secrets of turn around chools".
He agrees that yes, there are ways to turn around schools and get low to mod to high scores, yet MOST schools will not stay turned around due to the instability of the changes that occur in school. He also attributes this inability to keep scores up to the lack of the kind of expertise and skills and capacity needed in these places. He adds that there are not a "cadre of people that can get job done, dust hands and leave schools, these are not atttractive venues for experienced people.
* Cuban suggests that teachers learn best from one another. He adds that there are respectful ways to help teachers that are not ways not coming from vendors or or policymakers do not want to go that route at all. He simplifies his sensible advice to bettering schools as (1) give teachers the tools they need, (2) have them work together and (3) give them support.
* Cuban is a self-professed techno-skeptic Which means that he does not believe the answers to all education problems will come from education. He strongly be lives that in the end it's still needs to be about the standards, the curriculum and then if you can use technology to help in these areas then by all means use them, but he is very strongly against thinking of them as THE answer.
I will be following his blog from now on......I have a new guru.