Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Arne Duncan on Colbert

If you missed Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on The Colbert Report last night, you can watch here. It’ll take under six minutes.

One highlight: Duncan says that the best ideas in education come from “local teachers.” But hurrah for the Common Core.

And hurrah for replacing books with digital media, everywhere.

The most revealing moment: Duncan’s evasions when Colbert asks whether under the Common Core, students will read instruction manuals and memos instead of Shakespeare and Treasure Island. If students will be reading Shakespeare and Stevenson, Duncan’s claim that textbooks become obsolete “the day we buy them” falls apart. If anything, it is our devices that are instantly obsolete. But that never troubles a technocrat.

And incidentally, a Secretary of Education who refers to “less dropouts” needs to go back to school.

Related reading
Carlo Rotella, No Child Left Untableted (New York Times)

[“Less dropouts”: at 5:21.]

comments: 3

Anonymous said...

I had an discussion which turned into an argument with a text book seller, because I suggested inexpensive paperback editions of all the classics were easily available and could be given away to students, unlike the expensive texts "about" classic literature the publishers peddle. All in all, it was just about profits for the publishers, and I suspect a lot of quid pro quo behind the scenes between district buyers and sales persons. The technocrats are no better, essentially subsidizing big electronics and the like for profits to their corporations. These folks are not likely to want to give up their tasty suet. Give me paperbacks any day, to start a student's library. Thanks for your view on Duncan.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for the comment. It’s sad that Duncan turns “books” into “textbooks”: it’s necessary to back up a step, as you have here. I agree: paperbacks are infinitely better.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the supportive comment. I picked up a spine-broken "The Tempest" to re-read this day. Yellowing pages, but what a treat and what a treasure in text as in the physical nature of the book itself. "I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
to closeness and the bettering of my mind...." One does not need a Prentiss-Hall or a McGraw-Hill to inquire from Shakespeare's own pen. Come to think of it, my old college texts are long gone, while the original texts all remain a part of my abiding world. Best wishes.