When I first opened this book, my initial thought was… Why am I reading this 24 year old book?
So, perhaps my mindset was a bit negative at the outset. I dutifully began reading Chapter 1 of Teachers and Machines. Cuban’s discussion of reform in American education at the turn of the century struck a chord with me… “Pedagogical progressives called for instruction that built upon student interests, that opened up classroom windows to the larger world, and that plunged students into activities that had intellectual and social outcomes…”(p. 10)
This statement could have come from professional development that teachers currently receive, even though a century has passed. This is still good practice (yet not all teachers practice it!).
Enter the educational miracle known as the motion picture film. Brimming with potential, yet careens unharnessed and unguided through the schools for forty years. Spotty and sporadic implementation… why? This is the part that resonated with me… the four obstacles to utilizing the potential of film in classrooms (p. 18) Remove the word film and replace that word with any technology and the four obstacles would still apply. These are universal obstacles to implementing ANYTHING in education on a large scale: teacher lack of skill, cost, inaccessibility, and fitting the technology into the curriculum.
Many technologists write about technology implementation obstacles. Leggett and Persichitte have coined the acronym TEARS to encompass these obstacles:
T – Time
E – Expertise
A – Access
R – Resources
S – Support
I think this is quite appropriate, and as a classroom teacher I have experiences those TEARS quite literally when I have struggled to implement something new I believed in.
I think the question for educational leaders here should be: “How can we minimize the TEARS?” What can be done to streamline the process of implementing new technologies?