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For over a century, Americans have translated their cultural anxieties and hopes into dramatic demands for educational reform. Although policy talk has sounded a millennial tone, the actual reforms have been gradual and incremental. Tinkering toward Utopia documents the dynamic tension between Americans' faith in education as a panacea and the moderate pace of change in educational practices.
In this book, David Tyack and Larry Cuban explore some basic questions about the nature of educational reform. Why have Americans come to believe that schooling has regressed? Have educational reforms occurred in cycles, and if so, why? Why has it been so difficult to change the basic institutional patterns of schooling? What actually happened when reformers tried to "reinvent" schooling?
Tyack and Cuban argue that the ahistorical nature of most current reform proposals magnifies defects and understates the difficulty of changing the system. Policy talk has alternated between lamentation and overconfidence. The authors suggest that reformers today need to focus on ways to help teachers improve instruction from the inside out instead of decreeing change by remote control, and that reformers must also keep in mind the democratic purposes that guide public education.
David B. Tyack (1930–2016) was Vida Jacks Professor of Education, Emeritus, and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Stanford University.
Larry Cuban is Professor Emeritus of Education at Stanford University and past president of the American Educational Research Association.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Learning from the Past
1. Progress or Regress?
2. Policy Cycles and Institutional Trends
3. How Schools Change Reforms
4. Why the Grammar of Schooling Persists
5. Reinventing Schooling
Epilogue: Looking toward the Future
What People are Saying About This
If I could place one book before the many people--from legislators to business and civic groups--calling for school reform, it would be Tinkering toward Utopia. It is a wise and sobering book. Tyack and Cuban raise caution about the quick fix or the "visionary" solution and remind us of the power of the hard, day-to-day human work of social change.
Tinkering toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform 5 out of 5based on
lukeasrodgers on LibraryThing
26 days ago
Would have been 4.5 because I thought that some chapters could have used greater detail. Drew significantly on the work of Richard Elmore and Milbrey McLaughlin. I actually think it could have profited from a stronger voice, and could have been more critical.Situating school reform in the context of efforts to reform public institutions (e.g. health sector) would also have been illuminating. Nevertheless, a very good book.
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