March 20, 2012

“Unless I am missing Tyack and Cuban’s point, this account is in the spirit of Tinkering Towards Utopia and in fact, exemplifies one of the major principles in its presentation of the generic life-cycle of reforms: The reform sets out to change School but in the end School changes the reform. One may at first blush see a tautology in using this proposition to explain failures of reform. But to say that School changes the reform is very different from simply saying that School resists or rejects the reform. It resists the reform in a particular way — by appropriating or assimilating it to its own structures. By doing so, it defuses the reformers and sometimes manages to take in something of what they are proposing.”

Papert, S. (1995). Why School Reform is Impossible. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6(4), pp. 417-427.

1 thought on “March 20, 2012”

  1. In a previous paragraph in the same artcle Papert writes: “The first microcomputers in schools were in the classrooms of visionary teachers who used them (often with LOGO) in very personal ways to cut across deeply rooted features of School (what Tyack and Cuban neatly call “the grammar of school”) such as a bureaucratically imposed linear curriculum, separation of subjects, and depersonalization of work. School responded to this foreign body by an “immune reaction” that blocked these subversive features: The control of computers was shifted from the classrooms of subversive teachers into “computer labs” isolated from the mainstream of learning, a computer curriculum was developed… in short, before the computer could change School, School changed the computer.” One of my favorite quotes.

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