Think how amazing the CD was in so many ways thirty years ago, and yet how short the lifespan turned out to be (yes, CD's are still around, but clearly their time has passed). I think it's another indication of the changes in our current era, where the pace of everything is accelerated. At first CD's were resisted, then broadly accepted, and now they are all but extinct - all in the span of thirty years. I can't help but make the inevitable comparison to schools. 1982 happens to be the year I graduated from high school. When I walk into a classroom today the technology is certainly different, but the curriculum and the pedagogy haven't changed all that much. Sure, there's more content to cover, but the basic premise of schools and classrooms is the same.
Which brings me to today's second anniversary. Today also happens to be the 104th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company completing the first production Model T. Now if I compare schools from 1908 to today . . . well, in fairness, they are very different in many important ways. But the basic premise? Not so much. It was already sixteen years old.
I was part of a discussion with some seniors at my high school last week where several of them made a heartfelt argument in favor of busy work. They said that sometimes "old school" was the best way. I agreed that sometimes that was true, but that there was a reason that "old school" was called old school, and if they'd ever wondered about that. They had not.
The teacher who invited me into class for that discussion closed with one last question. What do you want high school to look like when your kids are here? The general consensus was they wanted it to look pretty much the same. On the one hand, that's comforting, because it means they generally like our high school and think we're doing a good job. On the other hand, it was incredibly depressing, and makes me feel like the last few years of my life have had very little impact here. (Yes, I know, cue the tiny violins. It's a selfish way to look at things, but it's my blog and I'll wallow if I want to.)
Perhaps I could get them all to read Why School? and then we could continue the discussion. But I fear it would be like trying to teach a fish about water. The "muscle memory" our culture has about school is a powerful thing.