Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
You have seen images like these time and again:
The idea of the school as an efficient factory assembly line has a surprising history. A century ago, the notion of schools delivering finished products to a democratic society was both new and–here is the surprise–admired. Here is what Professor Ellwood P. Cubberley, of Stanford Universitysaidin the early 20th century:
Our schools are, in a sense, factories, in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down.
In the midst of the progressive-inspired school efficiency movement, sparked by “scientific management,” Cubberley captured the prevailing beliefs of most school reformers then. Critics of the day, such as John Dewey, did
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