Larry Cuban’s three-part series on automation in education

Hat tip to George Reese for alerting me to this series – if it doesn’t make you worried, I would want to check your pulse.


I will comment directly on his blog, but overall, I agree with his assertion that

“(d)riving this change is the market imperative to cut costs, raise productivity, and increase profits. That imperative, married to remarkable gains in applying artificial intelligence to professional tasks, has swept across the private sector.”

He is right to re-focus on the true purpose of education:

“Tax-supported public schools have been and are social, political, and moral institutions whose historic job has been to help children and youth acquire multiple literacies, enter the labor market well prepared, vote, serve on juries, contribute to their communities, think for themselves, and live full and worthwhile lives.”


All of us would do well to remember the big picture. Often. Technology is simply a tool. Use the tool to get a specific job done. If you want to automate grading tests, awesome, knock yourself out, that does save a lot of time. But I don’t send my child to school to take tests. But it goes much deeper than that.


Here is my conclusion. All this automata really opens the door so that children (or anyone who sucks air) can learn the nuts and bolts of grammar, math, science, etc from any location on the planet (give or take). So why not do that at home, or the library, or the park? Make that the homework. But when they get to “school” (whatever it looks like for you), there they can then be taught to participate, successfully and with confidence, in society. Teach my child how to live. Help me teach my child how to craft persuasive arguments, how to resolve conflict, how best to respond to oppression, how to fight for justice. Allow my child to create, to wonder, to inquire, to explore. That is what I want my school to excel at.