Larry Cuban: Trusting Technology After a Career of Mistrust

To be clear, I think most would concur that Larry Cuban is an intelligent, well-respected thinker who's earned his reputation by expressing powerfully worded arguments that have withstood the test of time. One quick glance at his work and it's easy to detect greatness. Four brief quotations from his reserve illustrate his facility with words, the strength of his thinking, and a tone that's inhabited many of his arguments.

Four quotations...

Larry Cuban (1993):

...The seemingly marginal use of computers and telecommunications in schools and classrooms is due less to inadequate funds, unprepared teachers, and indifferent administrators than to dominant cultural beliefs about what teaching, learning, and proper knowledge are and how schools are organized for instruction.
Larry Cuban (2001):
Without a critical examination of the assumptions of techno-promoters, a return to the historic civic and social mission of schooling in America, and a rebuilding of social capital in our schools, our passion for school-based technology, driven by dreams of increased economic productivity and the demands of the workplace, will remain an expensive, narrowly conceived innovation. The next generation of Americans will wonder about the wisdom of previous reformers seeking technocratic solutions that ignored the broader civic and social roles of schools in a democratic society.
Craig Peck , Larry Cuban , and Heather Kirkpatrick (2002):
In the end, innovative technology remains relegated to the periphery and has not made any dramatic inroads into the academic mainstream.
Larry Cuban (2009):
Close scrutiny of ads about cancer treatments that will save lives and claims by school officials about the miracle-like qualities of laptops are tasks high school teachers might undertake when they teach critical thinking and educational policymakers should seriously consider when they make decisions. Were such scrutiny undertaken, a self-evident truth would emerge: too much emotional appeal and too little hard thinking hurt those seeking miracles from cancer centers and from schools buying new electronic devices.
An observation...

In spite of Dr. Cuban's well-documented mistrust of technology’s use in education (both on-line and off-), I think his behaviors of late speak far louder than his words. At least to me, his mere presence in the blogosphere:
  • Signals a new-found reliance on technology to communicate academically. Who might he be reaching here that he wasn't reaching before?
  • Indicates that some technologies - like blogging - are no longer “relegated to the [academic] periphery” but rather, rolling swiftly into the mainstream.
  • Powerfully illustrates dramatic changes regarding the “dominant cultural beliefs about what teaching, learning, and proper knowledge” are.
Why else should teachers blog? Because Larry Cuban does.


Original image source: Flickr user horizontal.integration.

Free, As In Look Over Here: Media Literacy 102

I just finished perusing "Seth Godin's new ebook" entitled What Matters Now. On the surface, it's an interesting read full of humor, wit, emotion, and timely advice; written by seventy-five of the most influential thinkers of our time/type. Big thinkers? YES!

Still, upon viewing the book, I'm struck by how much it feels like that stack of advertisements that comes with every edition of the Sunday paper.

Honestly, it's not that the content is bad, quite the contrary. Rather, it's that the content therein is so amazingly good that it's a shame it's been presented in such a way that each plug is so blatantly obvious. It's also as if the message they're really trying to send is that what really matters now is exposure, marketing, and my blog can beat up your blog.

First there was Web 2.0 - and now, well, there's free. Sure it's exciting; it's even liberating. But this example alone illustrates yet one more tragedy of the commons, unintentionally cloaked as a clarion reminder that nothing in life truly is free.

What Matters Now (A Description of Modern Economics):

  • Cost of production: time, creativity, and the networking skills required for assembly.
  • Cost of consumption: a population of readers duped into thinking the production is anything more than it really is: a professionally tailored advertisement for those whose work is featured therein.
Now, where did I put that Sunday paper?


Image sources: What Matters Now and Flickr user pappalicious.

(Mis) Communication

Yesterday morning, I learned clearly that one of the weaknesses of blogging is that in attempting to communicate with one group of people, it’s very possible to unintentionally miscommunicate with another.

For that reason alone, I think many administrators hesitate to put their thoughts out (t)here, regardless of the importance of the conversations that might take place online.

Sometimes my brain is too small.

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