The Two Cultures of Educational Reform – NYTimes.com
(Shoot — I meant to put this on “draft” and come back to it, but hit the wrong button. Sigh.)
Here’s what I thought was interesting about this piece: I agree with Fish’s depiction of “data and experiment culture” about education, and the “ineffable culture,” too. But his alignment of MOOCs with “data and experiment culture” of MOOCs seems wrong. Our data about MOOCs says that they’re not working. So, belief in MOOCs is “ineffable.” It’s about having warm feelings for technology and the hopes for its role in education.
About halfway through his magisterial study “Higher Education in America,” Derek Bok, twice president of Harvard, identifies what he calls the “two different cultures” of educational reform. The first “is an evidence-based approach to education … rooted in the belief that one can best advance teaching and learning by measuring student progress and testing experimental efforts to increase it.” The second “rests on a conviction that effective teaching is an art which one can improve over time through personal experience and intuition without any need for data-driven reforms imposed from above.”
Bok is obviously a member of the data and experiment culture, which makes him cautiously sympathetic to developments in online teaching, including the recent explosion of MOOCs (massive open online courses). But at the same time, he is acutely aware of the limits of what can be tested, measured and assessed, and at crucial moments in his analysis that awareness pushes him in the direction of the other, “ineffable” culture.