Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Why has the act of teaching in public schools (including charters) that serve wealthy, middle-class and poor children looked so familiar to generation after generation of journalists, researchers, parents and grandparents who enter classrooms? In short, why has there been so much continuity in teaching over the decades?

Surely, things have changed in classrooms. Desktops and laptops are prevalent in schools; teachers use the Internet for videos in lessons; students give PowerPoint presentations; teachers take immediate polls of student answers to multiple choice questions with clickers; new textbooks, some of which are online. Yet amid those changes, there is a commonness in the unfolding of a lesson, the activities that teachers direct students to do, and Q & A that characterizes the back-and-forth between teacher and students. How to explain that familiar continuity in teaching?

The organizational concept of “dynamic conservatism” involving both continuity and change to maintain a tenuous…

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