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Larry Cuban: Retrospective Look at 2017


Larry Cuban is an emeritus professor at Stanford University. He is a prolific writer about our failures and successes in improving education. A recent article provides a few of his reminisces about the year 2017 (Cuban, 12/29/2017). Quoting from this article:

As someone who has taught high school history, led a school district, and researched the history of school reform including the use of new technologies in classrooms over the past half-century, except for one event noted below, I found little that startled me in 2017. For digital tools in classrooms, it was the same o’ same o’. [Bold added for emphasis.]

Cuban summarizes his ideas in two short lessons.

Lesson 1

“When it comes to student use of classroom technologies, talk and action are both important. Differentiating between the two is crucial.” (Cuban, 12/29/2017.)

Our schools continue to buy more and more computers. But, for the most part these computers are used to teach the same curriculum content as we have taught in the past.

Contrast this with the use of computer technology outside of schools. Both at work and at play computers have been a game changer. So far, most schools—even those that have one computer per student—have not changed content and assessment in a manner that reflects use of computers as an aid to solving problems and accomplishing tasks. See my book, The Fourth R, for recommendations about what I think needs to happen (Moursund, 12/23/2016).

I am reminded of an event in Oregon more than two decades ago. Some parents who had children with learning difficulties, and who were on IEPs that provided them with computers to use while in school, sued the state of Oregon because their children were not being allowed to use computers on their state testing. The parents won. The message is that for a very long time we have understood some of the benefits students gain when they have computers and are both allowed and encouraged to routinely use them. But, we have not widely implemented this knowledge in our schools.

Lesson 2

“Access to digital tools is not the same as what happens in daily classroom activities.” (Cuban, 12/29/2017.)

In this section Cuban tells about visiting and studying 41 elementary schools in 2016 that had a reputation for integrating technology into their daily lessons. Quoting Cuban’s article:

But I saw no fundamental or startling changes in the usual flow of lessons—setting goals, designing varied activities and groupings, eliciting student participation, assessing student understanding— that differed from earlier generations of experienced teachers. The lessons I observed were teacher-directed and post-observation interviews revealed continuity in how teachers have taught for decades.

What You Can Do

I assume that you, one of my readers, routinely make use of computer technology. You have learned to use this technology as an aid in solving some of the problems and accomplishing some of the tasks that you encounter in your daily life. You know your strengths and weaknesses in using this technology.

Your computer knowledge and skills are integrated into your adult knowledge and maturity. Thus, you know a lot about roles of computer technology that you want your children to learn also. You can bring this knowledge and skill to bear regardless of what others are doing with their children or what the curriculum “dictates.” If you are a teacher, this may require walking a tight path between what you think and know is a correct thing to be doing, and what is prescribed in the school’s adopted curriculum. But, it is quite possible to do both.

Try it. I think you will find it enjoyable, invigorating, and challenging

References and Resources

Cuban, L. (12/6/2017). Larry Cuban on school reform and classroom practice. Reflections on 2017. Retrieved 1/3/2018 from

Moursund, D. (10/30/2017). Larry Cuban. IAE Blog. Retrieved 12/31/2017 from

Moursund, D. (2017). What the future is bringing us (2017). IAE-pedia. Retrieved 2/18/2017 from [This article has links to years 2007-2016.]

Moursund, D. (12/23/2016). The fourth R. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the Microsoft Word file from Download the PDF file from Available on the Web at

Moursund, D. (August, 2015). Brain science for educators and parents. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the PDF file from Download the Microsoft Word file from Available on the Web at

Moursund, D., & Albrecht, R. (1/20/2016). Learning problem-solving strategies through the use of games: A guide for teachers and parents. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the PDF file from Download the Microsoft Word file from

Moursund, D., & Sylwester, R., eds. (April, 2015). Education for students' futures. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download the PDF file from Download the Microsoft Word file from

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Tuesday, 23 January 2018