The Endless Struggle

10 Jun

Larry Cuban posted a thoughtful article today on the endless struggle that is the fight to improve education.  He links to Jonathan Franzen’s commencement speech, where the author writes about his need to fight for the environment, a topic that also seems destined to feel doomed.  Cuban shares four lessons he’s learned from years of working in education, research, and reform:

  • it is essential to distinguish between reform talk, adoption of reform-driven policies, and putting reforms into practice
  • reform talk and policy action in the purposes, curriculum, instruction and organization of schools often occur in cycles but putting reforms into practice is slow, incremental, and erratic.
  • turning to public schools as a solution for larger economic, social, and political problems has become a national tic, a peculiar habit, that U.S. reformers have
  • both continuity and change mark the path of public schools over the past two centuries

Cuban then says  graduate students, passionate about reforming and improving education, generally feel powerless and hopeless after hearing about the unending cycles of <generally> fruitless attempts to change.

He ends by saying you have to keep climbing the mountain even if the goal seems ever-farther away.  Reforming education feels like a Sisyphean task, but the alternative to fighting is giving up.

It’s also a reminder to focus on what we can do, to remember to celebrate the small victories, even as we strive for the big.  And to remember the things that make us happy in life…Like How I Met Your Mother, which besides being hilarious, gives some down-to-Earth advice on how to avoid being bogged down by it all.

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