Diane Ravitch, the education historian who built her intellectual reputation battling progressive educators and served in the first Bush administration’s Education Department, is in the final stages of an astonishing, slow-motion about-face on almost every stand she once took on American schooling.
The article is a very interesting review of the chaos that exists now in education theory. Notice, though, that there is no mention in the article of any sort of new idea for education. The headline is about a U-Turn — which is the act of swinging around to the opposite direction to go back where you came from.
It frustrates me that all of the pedagogues mentioned in the article stare unblinkingly back at the 20th century, looking for methods there. That is not where answers will be found. The new century’s kids connect to knowledge on the open internet. Only by putting that fact at the core can education be reconfigured for the 21st century.
Teaching, schools, assessment need to be reconfigured around the new location of knowledge. Chester Finn comes out best in my view in this article. Yes, “blow up” the old public school system — but does he yet have step two? The article does not have a hint of what it means for education to go down the opening road ahead. Doing so means connecting every kid individually into the global knowledge commons, and around that, redesigning what students do for discourse, arts, socialization, apprenticing and the rest of what we call “education” that is not about having access to subject knowledge.