The Fundamental Dilemma Within Any Instructional Reform

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Over five years ago I wrote a post on a new teacher’s dilemma. In that post I defined what a dilemma was and distinguished it from a problem. Then I presented an instance of a dilemma in a novice’s classroom and asked readers what they thought. I have written about dilemmas often in this blog (see here and here).

Because “dilemma” is so  often used as a synonym for “problem” and because these tensions over choices are constant in our personal and professional lives, I want to dig deeper into one facing all policymakers, past and present, intent upon altering how teachers teach from kindergartens to Advanced Placement courses. Whether teachers are new or experienced, whether they are white, African American, Latino, or a first generation college graduate in their family the tension between policymakers seeking to change traditional classroom practices and classroom teachers who are expected to put…

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