This morning’s post from Diane Ravitch included a link to an excellent review of her book written for Commonweal by Jackson Lears. I won’t print any extended extracts from the book review, but will share one sentence that I believe captures the essence of the review:
“Celebrating better schools as a panacea is a way of not mentioning unmentionable policies that might challenge existing power arrangements.”
But I did have two issues with the review: its unequivocal pushback against “disruption” and its skepticism about the possibility that technology might have a beneficial impact on schooling.
I have one problem with the pushback against “disruption” because I believe the system we have in place whereby students are grouped by age cohorts and “promoted” through “grade levels” works against the opportunities that now exist for students to progress at their own rates without feeling “left behind” or “getting ahead”. This change cannot be made without disrupting things…. and one of the major impediments to making changes to the structure of schools is this: by and large those in power were identified as “successes” by the system in place and they therefore believe “the system” is good.
My problem with technology is implicit in the critique against “disruption”. We now have the technological tools that could make it possible to individualize instruction in ways that were impossible in the past IF we change the way we use it.