hfThe article by Tyack and Cuban provides a history of the 'grammar' of schooling, and gives some insight into how this affects education. The main idea that I took from it is that the way in which schools are organized has not dramatically changed since in over a century. This organization is also integrally linked to political and social structures, and does not necessarily reflect what is most effective.
The idea of external influences, like the expansion of elementary education, and the shift from one-room rural schools to larger urban schools, and how these changes created new systems of education was interesting. I was reminded of the video that we watched on Friday. Tyack and Cuban say "they did seek greater efficiency by concentrating the work of a teacher on one grade in which students could be grouped by academic proficiency and could learn an uniform curriculum."
To me this reflects the Perrenealist culture, that students are taught a certain set of knowledge and the essential task of education was to make them productive members of society and preparing them to work in a factory.
Another thing I found interesting was the critiques of this system, that it created a hierarchy of ability, and might create a higher drop-put rate, as well as the idea that teachers would teach students to get them to pass the test. These are arguments that are present today, and I was surprised that they were already around in the 1870s.

The explanation of the various challenges to the traditional structure, like the Dalton Plan, seem to focus more on the Constructivist and Social Reconstructionist cultures. They focused more on individual, student-teacher interactions, and allowed for students to take more of an active role in their own learning. There were common problems, however, challenges from parents, administration and outside influences, like the Cold War and the reaction against 'progressive learning'. All the schools that were highlighted in the reading, after brief experiments with new ideas, eventually returned to traditional structures, if nothing else because the system around them did not change.

Tom, is this you?? Please add your name to the posts. Thanks!! I think the most profound take away from Tyack/Cuban is the short lifetime of many experiments that tinkered/tinker w/the grammar of schooling. As you point out the authors argue this grammar has persisted for a very long time. Often progressive reforms have had a short lifetime but still many of the notions about teaching/learning these experiments pursued have an impact on how we understand our work as teachers. KES



I also agree that the short lifetime of the attempted changes was a really interesting point made by the authors. As Tom mentioned, there were a number of external factors that affected the lasting effect of reforms. Some factors allowed for the changes to be made in the first place (ie. the Great Depression allowed for colleges to experiment with the type students admitted and the 1960s was an era open to social change), but others made it prohibitively difficult to maintain reform (ie. parent resistance, major events that shifted cultural attitudes like the Cold War). Assuming current events are conducive to school changes, there are still two significant challenges to structural reform that would persist through any era: a lack of community support and the amount of work and pressure put on teachers during the experiments leading to teacher burnout. I am interested in discussing whether reforms could be effective today. The authors suggest that by including the community and gaining support from parents at the beginning, experiments will more likely be successful. However, how could we take some of the burden off of the teachers so they are more supported during these changes? Alycia

While reading this article, it made me realize how unaware I was with all of the attempts that were made in the hopes of implementing progressive education. As Alycia stated that the reforms where "too intramural" with the lack of community support and there was a massive burnout rate among educational reformers. I really felt for the teacher as they tried to not only to successfully implement the new reforms but had to persuade, and defend the "new way" to students, colleagues, parents and school boards. One teacher stated how she felt like they lived in a goldfish bowl another felt like they worked at a zoo as visitors would be constantly coming in to see the schools for tomorrow. We have heard how it has severely affected the faculty but I am be curious to know what affects it had on the students as they went through these "trail and error" periods. Kim

Yes, I agree that attempts to mandate "reform" from the top down are hard to enforce without pushing teachers into areas in which they may not be comfortable. Better that reforms come from teachers themselves. But anything that threatens the way we view "real school" will always be a target. A great story--some years ago profs from Syracuse Univ. went to visit the new Disney master planned community in Florida--Celebration as it was called. This was an experimental community--read more if you're interested by clicking on Celebration--that had the opportunity to invent whatever educational system it wanted. When the profs who visited the school returned to NYS, I asked them about what they had seen. One of the math profs commented, "they could have done anything -- and they built a school." That's the power of the grammar of schooling.