Viewing education’s future through the lens of history
To hear Professor Emeritus Larry Cuban, PhD ’74, talk about education reform is to be reminded of lessons from the past. For any teacher anxious about how far technology will go in transforming U.S. education, he says to stop worrying. “From radio to instructional TV to computers, technology has never replaced teachers,” he says, “and neither will artificial intelligence.” Think today’s anti-teacher rhetoric from policymakers is new? Think again. “It’s always been there. It’s just not as frank, brutal and condescending as it used to be.”
Ensuring that the past remains part of the conversation about education’s present and future has been a hallmark of Cuban’s work for more than six decades as a public school teacher, superintendent, GSE professor from 1981 to 2001, and prolific author and blogger. History, Cuban says, reminds us that improving education is an ongoing crusade and to be wary of the latest hype. It can also teach policymakers modesty. “To know that previous generations of equally smart people wrestled with the same problems and how they did might diminish the arrogance of people who make decisions about schools.”
Known for his own humility (not to mention generosity and empathy, among other laudable traits), Cuban received the GSE’s Excellence in Teaching Award seven times during his 20 years as a professor at GSE. He will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Alumni Excellence in Education Award reception on Friday, October 25.