Claims about the power of new electronic devices to “revolutionize” schooling are a dime a dozen. Yet, if they are nearly worthless, why have smart people said them over and over again? Asks Larry Cuban, a former high school social studies teacher, district superintendent) and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University. The answer is deeply embedded in American culture: a love affair with technology as the elixir of everlasting improvement in all things personal and institutional. In the past quarter-century, quasi-miraculous changes have occurred in communication, information accessibility, business and commercial activities, combat operations, medical diagnosis and treatment, and so many other activities. Why not schooling? But schools have changed. There are far more electronic devices in schools than when Papert wrote in 1984. Students use cell phones, personal computers, and tablets at home and in school. Ditto for teachers. Classrooms have been equipped with interactive whiteboards. So why is Arne Duncan calling for a “fundamental re-thinking of how our schools function?”

The reason is that while there is much hardware and software in classrooms, how teachers teach and students learn have remained remarkably stable over the decades. Schools have not yet blown up…

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