To the Editor:
It’s about time that a reformer finally pays proper attention to what actually happens in the classroom (“ ‘Hugging the Middle': Why Good Teaching Ignores Ideology,” Commentary, April 29, 2009). By analyzing nearly 10,000 lesson plans created between the 1890s and 2005 in urban, suburban, and rural schools, Larry Cuban immediately establishes credibility at a time when so much is written by theoreticians.
One caveat, however, needs to be kept in mind. Although most teachers fall somewhere in the middle between the polar extremes of purist traditional and progressive teaching, as Mr. Cuban explains, those at the far ends also meet the needs and interests of some students. That observation should come as no surprise, since public schools are required by law to enroll nearly all who show up at their doors.
Private and religious schools are an entirely different matter, because parents choose to enroll their children in them based on their specific philosophies. As a result, these schools have the luxury of designing curricula and regulations of their own that appeal to small segments of the student population.
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the May 13, 2009 edition of Education Week as Non-Centrist Teachers Have Their Place, Too