Liberating Learning : Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education
"Technology has transformed all aspects of our everyday lives. From online banking to social networking, we communicate, connect, and consume in ways radically different from the past. Yet, the average classroom is not that different from the classroom of fifty years ago."What's wrong with this picture? Terry M. Moe and John E. Chubb, two thought leaders on education reform, tell a dramatic story about the pitched battle to bring about real change and improvement to America's schools-a battle that pits the innovative forces of technology against the entrenched interests that powerfully protect the educational status quo.The timing could not be more critical, as the United States struggles to keep pace with a world economy that places a growing premium on education. Right now, technology has a tremendous capacity to promote learning-for all students, regardless of background or neighborhood-by opening up a dazzling array of new opportunities that can literally customize education to the needs, schedules, styles, and interests of each student. But it is being blocked in the political process.Controversial
In this follow up to the authors' Politics, Markets, and American Schools, Moe and Chubb "think of public education not as the current institution, but in terms of [its] vital responsibility," in which case "technology promises to be a very good thing." When focused on this thesis, the Hoover Institution associates (Moe is a political science professor, Chubb founded an education consulting group) make a consistently intriguing case-not just for computers in the classroom, but for a full-scale system revamp. Unfortunately, they spend much time blaming teachers and teachers' unions for standing in the way, and fail repeatedly to address the realities of teaching. Many of the authors' assumptions will strike elementary educators as plainly wrong; for example, the idea that "computer-based approaches. simply require far fewer teachers per student" ignores the fact that teenagers can rarely be counted on to do what they're asked. It's also highly unlikely that parental demand will bring about a merit pay system; any school teacher will tell you that parental disinterest or neglect is rampant. Finally, and most distressingly, Moe and Chubb seem oblivious to the challenges poverty presents. Unfortunately, shallow thinking and a seeming lack of real classroom experience short circuit an important topic. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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April 27, 2009
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