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When and what was the last major disruption in education? I’m genuinely curious. A lot of people talk about disruption in the very near term as being inevitable (and I really hope that they are right), but it feels like education has not been disrupted in a very, very long time.

I wasn’t alive back then, but the current trends in education remind me a lot of what I’ve read about the progressive education movement ignited by John Dewey in the middle of the last century. There was an explosion of experimentation and innovation, especially around empowering students… just like we are seeing today. But then, nothing much ended up changing.

One argument I read often is that advances in technology lead to change. And there have certainly been significant technological advances since the 1950s. But if the last major disruption in education happened in the 1800s or earlier, why didn’t advances in technology cause disruption before now?

I’m not asking this question to defend education or argue that disruption won’t occur. I really want disruption to happen. But I worry that education has been especially resistant to disruption for well over a century now, and unless we understand why, we’ll see another cycle of ineffective change.

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