Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cartoons on Child Rearing and Kids in School

For this month, I have selected cartoons that poke fun at practices parents use to create “good” children–be it traditional or non-traditional. I also include the interactions between teachers and kids in classrooms. These tickled me. I hope they do thesame for you. Enjoy!

child-psychology-book-cjmadden1.jpg

 

93734_600.jpg

 

fam44.gif

 

libertarian_child_rearing__jerkscomics.jpeg

 

fam53_0.gif

 

cg520d2c8aee9a3.jpg

 

for dad.jpg

 

img-3.png

 

d6f1df24a4a06047ccd0736acfc5250c--teenagers-cartoon.jpg

 

cg59443eb551d5b.jpg

 

cartoon+teachers+part+time+people.jpg

 

two-waving-parents-speak-to-their-son-who-robert-leighton.jpg

 

fam33.gif

 

4ad9608138fd9b538c1a80c58cc55c05--comic-strips-comic-book.jpg

 

images-1.jpg

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Cartoons on Efficiency and Productivity

I have been thinking and writing about the concepts of efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity in different occupations. A question crossed my mind: how do cartoonists look at these concepts? Thus, this month’s feature displays cartoons on these topics. Enjoy!

nz159.jpg

 

management_vs_leadership_efficiency_vs_effectiveness_Thumbnail.png

 

double-dilbert_34501.gif

 

 

 

chickenefficiency.jpg

 

2003-11-04B-240x331.gif

 

cartoon6877.png

 

lemonade cartoon 20 oct 2011 personal data.png

 

 

 

hamster+copy.jpg

 

 

 

Intercooler.jpg

 

3230.gif

 

9dd812_41efc22925e9461db1898ea30a802f2c~mv2_d_3709_1700_s_2.jpg

 

dilbert-urgent.jpg

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What Mark Twain Didn’t Really Tell Us About Technology Disruption, Jobs And Education (Derek Newton)

Derek Newton: “I write about education including education technology (edtech) and higher education. I’ve written about these topics and others in a variety of outlets including The Atlantic, Quartz and The Huffington Post. I served as vice-president at The Century Foundation, a public policy think tank with an emphasis on education and worked for an international education nonprofit teaching entrepreneurship. I also served as a speech writer for a governor of Florida, worked in the Florida legislature and attended Columbia University in New York City.”

This appeared in Forbes on July 26. 2018

At a time when facts and figures are tossed around indiscriminately, it is well to remember that school reform rationales have too often been anchored in false statistics. One example will do. For nearly forty years, business and civic leaders have claimed that schools are failing to prepare the next generation for a workplace or as a recent IBM report put it: “ … sixty-five percent of children now in primary school will work in job types that don’t exist today.”

This figure of “65%” has been picked up and disseminated repeatedly by corporate leaders, top public officials, and academic researchers to prod schools to adopt business practices in preparing children and youth to enter an ever-changing workplace. That the percentage has no credible source, seems to have been made up and then blazoned on the bandwagon of school reform for nearly four decades is what Newton points out in this piece For a more detailed inquiry to the source of the fake 65%, see Benjamin Doxtdater, “A Field Guide to ‘Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet.”

 

The movie The Big Short opens, more or less, with this quote from Mark Twain, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

It appears, though, that Twain never said that. Which makes the quote insightful, ironic and appropriate for what we are sure we know about technology, the future of work and the shortcomings of our education systems.

A fairly loud chorus knows for sure that three things are true – that technology is going to deeply and massively change the nature of work, that our schools, and colleges and universities in particular, aren’t preparing future workers for those future jobs and that a failure to quickly adopt massive changes in the way we teach will result in certain doom for future workers, businesses and the global economy.

In May, IBM, the global advice and technology leader, sang a version of that tune with a released report called, “The six new competencies Industrial companies need on their path to digitization.” The first statistic in that report is, “ … sixty-five percent of children now in primary school will work in job types that don’t exist today.” IBM highlights the figure and used it in social media ads to promote the report.

Which brings us back to the Twain quote that opens The Big Short. Not only is this 65% statistic something we know for sure that just ain’t so, the stat itself is fake – simply, it appears, made up.

The footnote in the IBM report leads to this 2016 article in Fortune Magazine by John Chambers who was then the ­executive chairman of Cisco. In it, Chambers wrote, “ … it is estimated that 65% of children entering primary school today will work in job types that don’t even exist yet.”

It is estimated. That’s it. No footnote. No source.

A similar stat appears in a report by the World Economic Forum called “The Future of Jobs and Skills,” also in 2016. It says, “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” And that statement footnotes to “McLeod, Scott and Karl Fisch, “Shift Happens.””

ShiftHappens is a series of viral YouTube videos from 2007. The videos are great but so dated at this point that it seems other-worldly to see references to the growth in MySpace as evidence of our technology future. But the problem isn’t the date, it’s the fundamental accuracy.

Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D. and associate professor, Educational Leadership, University of Colorado Denver, one of the creators of the videos, told me that the 65% stat, “ … indeed, is not a statistic we ever used! .. Not sure where it came from.”

McLeod isn’t the first or only person to have expressed bewilderment with this statistic. In 2017, the BBC did an entire segment debunking the “65% of primary school” idea. Also in 2017, Benjamin Doxtdator did some great research on the stat and found, “ …  the claim is not true.” According to Doxtdator, “ … versions of it date from at least to 1957.”

If you think about it, the idea that 65% of kids will take jobs that don’t exist today is implausible. To be real, coming technology would need to replace jobs like chefs, dog walkers, lawyers, software engineers, bank employees and directors of non-profits entirely, and within in a decade or two. That should be inconceivable on its face.

So, it’s an embarrassing wonder that IBM used it as recently as May of this year to make the case that businesses and schools need to gear up for major, inevitable changes in technology and prepare for a new generation of workers.

When asked, IBM repeated the premise of technology disruption in the workforce. “IBM’s position on this issue is that AI may not replace every job, but it will change every profession.  So, jobs as we know them today, will be different in the future,” an IBM spokesperson said.

And, to be fair, IBM isn’t the only one to get that stat wrong. As noted, the World Economic Forum, Fortune (via Cisco) and others have repeated it without checking.

And that’s the problem. It’s one thing to see statistics tossed around by anonymous sources in backroom bulletin boards. Those should often and rightly be ignored. But when otherwise credible sources such as IBM and WEF peg entire research reports to false, narrative-forming points, it’s damaging to the necessary and honest debates about what we should expect from employers and schools.

Yes, we should be more skeptical about the things we read. But IBM and others should also do better than just repeating statistics they hear in the chorus, which feels like the place to remember something else Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.”

And as true as that feels, no, it seems Twain didn’t say that either.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Ninth Anniversary of Blog

Hard to believe that I began this blog in 2009. I have enjoyed writing about school  reform and classroom practice because both have consequences both anticipated and unanticipated for children, teachers, parents, citizens, and society. I also look forward to writing posts during my tenth year because I know that there are a lot of fiercely smart practitioners, policymakers, parents, academics and graduate students out there who read them.  They think about what I write, agree or disagree with the points I make, and on occasion, take the time to comment. For those readers, I thank you.

**************************************************************************

As with all things, there is a history to writing this blog. My daughter Janice who is a writer in marketing communication urged me to begin a blog in August 2009. She guided me through the fits-and-starts of working on this platform. A few weeks ago, she interviewed me about writing on this twice-weekly blog for the past nine years. Here are her questions and my answers.

Tell me a bit about your blog.

It’s called Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice. I aim for 800 words for each post, two times a week. I have at least one point I want to make. I use lots of examples to back up the point, and then I take a position on it.

What specific topics do you cover?

Because it’s education and includes both policy and practice, it gives me a lot of latitude to write about what I want — from state and federal policy to school reform to classroom lessons. Education is so connected to other institutions in our society so it’s easy to also analyze business, the practice of medicine and teaching, and other similar topics. I try to make connections between things, it makes writing more challenging and interesting.

How do you find blog post ideas? Do you have an editorial calendar?

I am always reading a lot of books, newspapers, magazines, other peoples’ blogs, and a lot about corporate, medical, and governmental practices. Ideas just kind of get married to one another, and that to me is exciting. I don’t have an editorial calendar but I do have some regular sections on the blog. There is a monthly feature on education cartoons with different topics, for instance, how teachers and kids use digital tools, and an intermittent post I call “Whatever happened to..” about past innovations and popular school reforms over the ages, like teaching machines and phonics. I also do an anniversary blog post every year thanking readers and featuring annual blog stats.

Do you ever run out of topics?

Ideas don’t always come to me. Sometimes I’ll ask others to do a guest post. Other times I’ll recycle posts and update them with a new opening and closing. Then there was that “Poems about Education”… not such a big hit. Readership dropped. Not doing that again.

I still marvel at the fact that you write twice a week. How the heck do you do it?

That’s a complicated answer: One, I like to write. Sometimes you hear blogging is passé but I find it very invigorating intellectually. I like to take ideas that I have and convert them into prose that gives me a chance to express myself. Secondly, the blog is a vehicle to teach others. I’m highly motivated to share because I think my ideas matter and give me a form of teaching. Teaching has been a major part of my life.

What advice would you give to would-be bloggers, or those in need of a writing adrenaline shot?

Ask: Who is your audience? Once you have an audience, read other blogs you admire and try to figure out an angle that gets at what you want to communicate. It’s important to always have a hook. Also, have the self-confidence that what you’re saying matters to the audience. Last but not least, make a commitment to try to do it for at least a year. Writing, revising, and editing is hard work but very satisfying when you push that button “publish” and hear from readers.

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Silicon Valley Can’t Fix Everything (Zeynep Tufekei)

This op-ed appeared in the New York Times July 15, 2018.

“Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) is an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, the author of “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest” and a contributing opinion writer.”

Silicon Valley moguls seem to believe they can fix most anything, and they appear befuddled when their attempts to do so aren’t met with unbridled enthusiasm.

The tech billionaire Elon Musk was among the millions of people captivated by the plight of the 12 boys and their soccer coach recently trapped in a cave in Thailand. But Mr. Musk didn’t just follow the story on the news and social media; he has vast resources, so he also tried to help.

He directed his engineers to build a miniature “submarine” (basically a sophisticated metal cylinder) that he hoped could be used for the rescue. He shared videos of the submarine with his 22 million followers on Twitter. And he received widespread media coverage and encouragement from his many fans.

Mr. Musk’s desire to help was commendable. But when the head of the rescue operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, declared that Mr. Musk’s contraption was impractical for the task at hand — a task that had been completed, at that point, by some of the world’s top cave divers — Mr. Musk responded with irritation. He insisted on Twitter that leaders of the operation had in fact welcomed his assistance and that Mr. Narongsak was not the “subject matter expert.” He also expressed frustration that he was being criticized while trying to help.

Instead of venting, Mr. Musk — indeed, Silicon Valley as a whole — can perhaps see the Thai operation as a lesson. This was a most improbable rescue against the longest odds. Safely navigating 12 kids and one adult, many of whom were not swimmers, through a dangerous cave relied on a model of innovation that Silicon Valley can and should learn from.

The Silicon Valley model for doing things is a mix of can-do optimism, a faith that expertise in one domain can be transferred seamlessly to another and a preference for rapid, flashy, high-profile action. But what got the kids and their coach out of the cave was a different model: a slower, more methodical, more narrowly specialized approach to problems, one that has turned many risky enterprises into safe endeavors — commercial airline travel, for example, or rock climbing, both of which have extensive protocols and safety procedures that have taken years to develop.

This “safety culture” model is neither stilted nor uncreative. On the contrary, deep expertise, lengthy training and the ability to learn from experience (and to incorporate the lessons of those experiences into future practices) is a valuable form of ingenuity.

This approach is what allowed the airline captain Chesley Sullenberger to safely land a commercial airplane on the Hudson River in 2009 after its engines were disabled. Captain Sullenberger’s skill and composure were, of course, a credit to him personally. But they also rested on decades of training and learning in an industry that had been government-regulated and self-regulated to such a degree that hurling through the atmosphere in giant metal cans at 35,000 feet is now one of the safest ways to travel.

By contrast, Silicon Valley moguls seem to favor spending money on improbable but impressive-sounding long shots. In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, donated $100 million to New Jersey schools as part of a multiyear plan to improve them. The centerpiece of the plan was teacher evaluation and charter schools, but it didn’t work well. Some aspects of the plan even made things worse. Education is a complex topic, and making a lot of money in tech is not a qualification for solving educational problems.

Silicon Valley also tends to ignore problems in its own house. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has declared that space exploration is one of the main things he should spend his money on. But poorly paid workers in Amazon warehouses, who work under grueling conditions, may have other ideas about how Mr. Bezos might best spend his money.

In the case of Mr. Musk and his submarine, the Thai authorities understood that they needed to let the expert cave divers plan and direct the rescue operation (and Mr. Musk, to his credit, said he would take the lead from the divers). But the kind of publicity Mr. Musk created can take on a life of its own and exert undue influence.

I don’t mean to dismiss the role of technological innovation. Maybe in the future, some version of Mr. Musk’s contraption could be useful. But that would require long-term development, testing and collaboration with a variety of experts — not just a handful of Mr. Musk’s engineers.

If Silicon Valley wants to help the world, there is a lot it can do, starting with making its own products safer and its own companies more just. Perhaps most important, it can develop respect for hard-earned expertise in areas other than its own.

 

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Cartoons on Efficiency and Productivity

For the past 35 years of school reform, business practices and, yes, even metaphors–“the bottom line,” “return on investment,” and titles such as “CEO” and “Director” have been present in classrooms, schools, and districts. This month, I feature cartoons on two basic concepts prevalent in corporate America: efficiency and productivity. Often confused with one another, they are separate concepts. Separate or not, cartoonists have had fun poking at both. Enjoy!

productivity+cartoon.JPG

 

01-local-government-efficiency-machine.jpg

 

2010-01-25-efficiency.jpg

 

business-cartoon-of-meeting-and-chart-that-reads-our-productivity-EWH97R.jpg

 

Panel-4-jpg.jpg

 

blog25.png

 

3824.gif

 

wireless8.gif

 

40d1a347c38cb8463400553f7d9e3bab.jpg

 

cd93cd9799a49c52c5d84540ff00d2fa.jpg

shower-dilbert_34502.gif

 

scrubs-cartoon2.gif

 

cartoon.jpg

 

images.jpg

 

productivity-vs-efficiency-productivity.png

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Remembering Career Failures

Looking back from my ninth decade, my career as an educator has been marked by many successes. But I cannot forget the failures I encountered.

I began teaching high school in 1955, a goal I had pursued as an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. I taught 14 years on and off in various school districts until the early-1970s. During those years I participated in an innovative, district-based teacher training program that prepared returned Peace Corps volunteers to teach in urban schools. I also created culturally diverse curriculum materials and co-authored a series of U.S. history textbooks both of which were published in those years.

Left teaching in 1972 to get a doctorate at Stanford in history of education and in 1974 achieved my dream of becoming a district superintendent. I served seven years. I returned to Stanford as a professor in 1981 and for 20 years taught, advised doctoral students, returned to high school teaching three times, and did research and writing until I retired in 2001. Since then, I began a blog in 2009, taught seminars until 2013, and have written extensively about the history of school reform while continuing to do research in public schools. I have published many articles and books about U.S. classrooms, schools, and districts always with a historical perspective whether it be teaching, using technology, or a current reform.

OK, this is beginning to sound like a draft for an obituary. It is not.

What I want to write about is not my successes but my failures. While on the surface my long career as an educator appears as an unvarnished success albeit a modest one, it was a zig-zag path with cul-de-sacs and, truth be told, a road pockmarked with failure.

Why note failures?

Because successes in life, however defined, are built on failures that often go unnoted. The common pattern in talking or writing about a career is to deny or cover up disappointments and failures. Carefully prepared resumes are silent on mishaps. The point is that everyone’s career is marked by failures but in our competitive, highly individualistic culture, talking about failure is like talking about body odor. Not done. Failure means you are a loser in a society that praises winners.

So here I want to recount my career failures to make clear that chasing success in one’s life is anchored in confronting repeated failures. I am not the first to reveal such a list. Others have as well (see here and here).

Failures as a teacher:

*In 1955, I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh as a history teacher. I applied for a post in the Pittsburgh school system where I had lived and gone to elementary and secondary schools. I was rejected because I had no experience and was told to teach in the suburbs for a few years and then re-apply. I did teach elsewhere but never re-applied to the Pittsburgh schools.

*Even though I was considered a high-performing teacher by my superiors at Glenville High School (Cleveland, OH), Cardozo High School and Roosevelt High School (Washington, D.C), between 1956-1972 I had a small number of students in various classes that I could not reach or teach well. It was obvious to me and to those students that I failed in connecting with them.

Failures as administrator:

*In 1968 while teaching at Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C., I was offered a post in the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights to be in charge of a research group on race and education. It was a time in the city and nation when racial antagonisms ran high in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. After six months, I realized that I could not reduce the racial friction evident in the department that I administered. I had failed to make a dent in lowering tensions and achieving the stated goals of the unit. I resigned.

*In 1972, I applied for an elementary school principalship in Washington, D.C. where I had taught and administered programs for nearly a decade. I was turned down for that post.

*After receiving my doctorate in history of education and getting certified as an administrator, I applied for 51 (not a typo) superintendencies across the country. My wife and I and our two daughters were willing to go anywhere a district offered me the school chief position. I was turned down by 50 districts—the one that hurt the most was a district to which I had not even applied—until Arlington (VA)—the 51st application– offered me the post in 1974.

*In 1985-1990, as a professor, I applied for six urban and state superintendencies and while making the final cut to a short-list of three candidates, each board of education chose someone else.

*in the mid-1990s, I was a finalist for deanship at Stanford’s School of Education. Didn’t get post.

Failures in getting published: 

While occasional articles I wrote and a book were published in the 1960s,  over subsequent decades, publishers and editors regularly turned down submissions I made. At one point for a manuscript I had written on Southern migrants moving northward before and after World War I, the rejections letters overwhelmed me and I shoved the manuscript into a bottom drawer. Eventually, I threw it out.

When I began writing op-ed pieces on school reform in the 1990s, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times regularly turned down my work. The New York Times has never accepted an op-ed I wrote while the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times accepted one of every ten I submitted.

When I get requests for my resume or curriculum vitae, none of the above failures are listed.

Why is it important to talk about career failures?

 This is the point where such accounts as mine throw in a few inspirational quotes about the importance of failing. Such as:

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. Basketball star Michael Jordan

 Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill

 You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou

But there is far more that is important to confronting career failures than citing maxims. Defeats were doors that closed in my face. Yet other doors opened.

There are many ways to respond to failure. For me, however, closed doors did two things. In some instances, I doubled down and persisted—50 rejections in applying for superintendent posts—in other instances, it nudged me to open doors that I had not considered–going from the failed attempt to manage a governmental research group riven by racial animosities to administering the Office of Staff Development in the Washington, D.C. schools or getting rejected for a principalship and deciding to pursue a doctorate.

Persistence and ambition are, of course, married to one another. Yes, I have been a go-getter in the early decades of my work as an educator. The cliché of “a fire in the belly” captures in large part what drove me through open doors. But it was doggedness in the face of errors and defeats, harnessed to that ambition, that help explain, at least to myself, the corkscrew path I have taken these past nine decades.

Now, that fire has been banked yet embers still glow. Looking back at my career and the mix of success and failure make clear to me how complex the interaction between wins and losses is. In remembering how failures tinged with success and successes tinted with failures have resulted in unplanned twists and turns, I remember, and smile, at an old saying:

images-1.jpg

 

19 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized