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Robbie McClintock: Power and Pedagogy. Transforming Education through Information Technology
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Robbie McClintock: Power and Pedagogy. Transforming Education through Information Technology


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  • 1. Power and PedagogyTransforming Education through Information Technologyby Robbie McClintockNew York: Institute for Learning Technologies, 1992Length: 48,700 wordsTo Moira,for the example of her growth and maturation, andTo Max,who has read, encouraged, clarified, and cajoled, and best of all, who has inspired through herprecept and example, the effort to pack compelling force into a trim form.Preface1¶ Educators propound reforms, but schools remain the same.Without material agency, new methods fail. A scheme captures theeducational imagination—spokespeople think it out, the daring to tryit, researchers document its effects, and the committed demand itsadoption. Thus, the idea diffuses from various centers—but then,sporadically, resistance builds, enthusiasm falters, influenceweakens; ineluctably, distinctive practices gravitate back to the norm.Pedagogical weathering soon makes the new shinglesindistinguishable from the old.2¶ Without political vision, technological innovation leaves the qualityof life unimproved. Anticipations of future technologies depictwondrous tools for living, but then culminate with "a day in the life,"usually a banal office routine with little at stake that was different fromwhat would be at stake in the corporate office anywhere today. Suchvisions do not inspire people to solve human problems old and new,to join together with shared hopes and historic aspirations, enablednow to act on issues hitherto inaccessible to the common weal.3¶ We need to join pedagogy and power. Educators inspired byvisions of human potentiality need instruments of action, substantialagents of change, with which to work. Technologists creating newmeans for bringing intelligence to bear upon the work of the worldneed a civic agenda, a vision of historic possibility, consciouslyespoused and responsibly defended. Without power, educators willcontinue cloaking their delivery of lame services in high-mindedimpotence. Without pedagogy, technologists, bleating complacentcorporate compromise, will recreate the injustices of the contemporaryworld with the new-forged tools that might otherwise transcend it.Educators need power, not purity; technologists need vision, notpredictability. Together educators and technologists have the historicopportunity to improve the civic prospect—that is the message ofPower and Pedagogy.Chapter One - A Perspective on the Task4¶ Lets look ahead. In the twenty-second century, how might anhistorian of education sum up the major changes in pedagogicalpractice over the sweep of time? Imagine that we commissionElizabeth Ironstone, leading authority on the computer as an agent ofchange, to study these changes. She reports, not in the multimedia ofher time, but in the prose of ours. This might be her executivesummary, introducing Toward the Educative Polity.5¶ Through most of history, education was a loose system ofapprenticeship and indentured service in households, the mainContentsRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 2. location of productive activity. Those who wanted their children tobecome learned employed tutors to help them out. A few schoolsexisted within specialized institutions, such as cathedral priories andmonasteries, but these were not like the schools that eventuallyproliferated, for students were not divided into classes or groupedaccording to age.6¶ Around 1500, a major pedagogical transition began as printingwith moveable type made an unprecedented era of educationaldevelopment possible. But the transition was not a quick and simplechange: to bring it off, innovators had to develop a complex ofdifferent, yet interrelated, educational strategies, which togethereventually made mass schooling for all a practical reality. Key steps inthis process involved:Developing a characteristic place, a set of classrooms wherechildren could be grouped by age, with the classes organizedtogether into a school; and creating a standard unit of time, thefixed instructional period, which would allow for plannedscheduling of the academic day and year and for organizingsubject-matter into a sequence of measured lessons;Discovering how to manipulate motivational energies, essentiallyengendering a many-sided competition at memorization andmimicking normative examples, displayed through diverserecitations and examinations;Implementing a suitable presentation of the culture throughspecially designed textbooks and related resources, apresentation that stoked the competition and fit well within theeducational time and place of the school classroom andschedule;Working out instructional methods that capitalized on thestudents possession of the textbook, helping students withtimely explanation to learn by reading, and monitoring theirprogress efficiently with group recitation;Instituting means of preparing adequately trained teachers whocould manage the system and make it work; andDeveloping public polices, centering on material progress, socialimprovement, and political cohesion, that moved parents andthe public to devote sufficient resources to sustain the educativeeffort.7¶ These developments were tightly interrelated. The transitionrequired the integration of complex factors into a functional system:the design of educational space and time; a chosen pattern ofeducational motivation; pedagogical materials suitable for use in suchplaces with such motivations; methods of instruction suited to theorganization of the cultural materials, teachers adept at using suchtools and strategies; and arguments demonstrating that thesubstantial costs of it all were worthwhile—all were simultaneouslyessential to the historic transition to mass schooling.8¶ Sixteenth-century educational reformers worked out integration ofthese six, interrelated matters. For five hundred years, educatorsperfected, expanded, and developed the basic components of theeducational system introduced early in the era of print, in due coursecreating modern systems of universal, compulsory schooling. As thedegree of elaboration and penetration of the system into societychanged, the specifics justifying the effort evolved to staysynchronized with cultural transformations. The main featuresremained stable, however. The design of the classroom and theorganization of the school day, the motivational strategies employed,the scope and sequence of textbooks, the definition of good teachingpractice, and the rationales for public support remained very stable.The reason for the underlying stability was rather simple: throughoutRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 3. it all, the character and limitations of printed textbooks remainedsubstantially fixed, the keystone of the system.9¶ We who inhabit the electronic ethos of the twenty-second centurymust remember that early in the twenty-first, the function of printedmaterials changed rapidly, becoming restricted to their current role ofverifying and guaranteeing standard data sets when the electronicversions possibly could be altered. Before then, physically printedmaterials had a more central intellectual function. For five hundredyears, books were the unmatched resources for making ideas,knowledge, and culture available to students, and so long as this rolewas unquestioned, educators paid little attention to how thecharacteristics of books shaped the whole instructional enterprise.But during the last half of the twentieth century, diverse innovations incommunication and computation occurred, displacing books fromtheir privileged educational position and creating our current,electronic means of access to cultural achievements.10¶ From our vantage point, we can see how the microcomputer, andall its attendant peripherals, quickly matured into powerful multimediasystems. They thereby created a significant historical dilemma foreducators at the end of the twentieth century. How were educators tomake use of these new resources? Did the existing educationalsystem comprise permanent, necessary arrangements? Shouldschools remain forever a system of classrooms for twenty-fivechildren, of similar age and talent, overseen by a single teacher,learning set subjects that had been divided into lessons, competingfor grades and recognition? Were these arrangements historicallyrelative accidents, sensible in one communication context, butperhaps vestigial survivals in a new context, with distorted functions?In planning computer-based educational efforts, what shouldeducators take as givens that would remain stable, before and afterthe introduction of powerful information technologies?11¶ At first, this question was not clear to educators. Early users ofcomputers in education simply assumed that most features of thegiven system would remain stable, only getting better throughjudicious use of the new technology—with a good deal of divergence,we might add, over what "better" might mean. There was an initialwave of enthusiasm, and a strong undertow of skepticism, and lots ofingenious, but encapsulated, efforts to incorporate computers into theeducational system. Through such efforts to introduce computers intolate-twentieth-century schooling, educators became increasinglyaware that the then-existing practice was a complex technical systemhighly adapted over centuries to making use of books as the primemedium of cultural exchange. Encapsulated innovations repeatedlyengendered inflated expectations and produced disappointment anddisdain.12¶ Unfortunately, the old system had spawned a hugeestablishment of educational research, which functioned to optimizetechniques and programs within the given system. Almost all itsmethods for measuring results were system-specific: they assumedthat existing divisions of subject matter were the appropriate domainsfor testing, that standard grade-levels were fit bases for normingresults, and that verbalized information was the prime indicator oflearning. The bias of such research helped to protect the existingarrangements from systemic changes.13¶ To organize education to exploit the possibilities of electronicmedia for cultural exchange, possibilities far more powerful andflexible than the printed media, educators had to rethink the systemas a whole. They needed to take none of it as a given that wouldnecessarily persist, unchanged, from before to after the introductionof computers. Further, to assess a new system, relative to the old,they had to develop a whole new type of educational research, oneRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 4. that did not presume, in its standards of testing and measurement,that structural accidents of the old system were educationalnecessities of timeless applicability. The full, fundamentalre-examination of educational options, and the methods for assessingthem, began in the 1990s. It initiated the second historic transition ineducational practice.14¶ Looking back from the twenty-second century, the results of thisre-examination are clear. Educators began to explore new solutions toall aspects of the existing system. They stopped applying computersto the educational strategies that had been developed in the early eraof print. Instead, they started to search for educational strategies thatseemed sensible in an era of digital information technologies.At the end of the twentieth century, educational innovatorsscrapped well-worn assumptions about the physical location ofeducation, keeping the school, largely for reasons ofsocialization, but discarding the traditional classroom, opening itphysically to make many different groupings possible, from thevery small to the very large. Likewise, they discardedassumptions about the periodicities of schoolwork—the schoolday and the school year. Instead, they adopted very flexiblescheduling strategies, which were among the many possibilitiesthe new technologies facilitated.Educators harnessed a much broader mix of motivationalenergies than had been possible with print-based schooling. Assustained work by small groups became more feasible,cooperative learning became even more important thantraditional competitive learning. With that development, theeducational system began to function less exclusively as asorting mechanism and more effectively as a means to engendersocial integration and interpersonal solidarity.Simultaneously, curriculum reformers profoundly changed theorganization of ideas and knowledge, reversing the tendency tobreak the whole up into discrete domains of subject matter. Withthe old system, there had been a separate text for each subjectand each grade—the experience of study had beencompartmentalized and sequential, with minimal access in anyparticular grade to the materials used in prior or coming years.The new organization substituted an encompassing organizationof ideas and knowledge—comprehensive and integrated—forthe sequence of graded texts. It also provided a variety ofnavigators, appropriate to different ages and interests, to helpthe student. The result was most important: the experience ofmoving through the curriculum ceased to be one of a sequentialstudy of subjects, grade by grade, and became much more oneof a cumulative mastering of the cultural landscape.15¶ Also with respect to the organization of ideas and knowledge,innovators made the indices for accessing ideas broader, moreflexible, and more effective. In the era of print, keywords and asubstantial acquisition of verbal knowledge mediated access to storedideas and information. Even to find a picture, or later a film, one hadto be able to read one or another sort of verbal listing. The newtechnologies greatly extended the power of multiple-representation inthe culture, and multiple-representation had its most significant effect,not on how people received ideas, but on how they found them,activated them, and then apprehended them. Pictures, icons, sounds,and gestures came to rival written expressions as means of accessingideas. With that change, the resources routinely usable in thecurriculum blossomed—pictures, films, performances, recitations,diagrams, graphs, animations, simulations, maps lost their merely"illustrative" character. People began to make arguments with them,to explain things through them, discovering how to give imagesRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 5. apodictic, declarative, propositional power. We can now sum up allthese changes: in our electronic culture, visualization enhances theverbalization that characterized the print culture.As educators reorganized the culture, so too they altered thepedagogy guiding its study. The project method now came intoits own and ideas about instruction gave way to those aboutconstruction. Students, usually working together in groups,would receive an intellectual charge, a large intellectual taskthat would occupy them for sustained periods of time. Thecurriculum could no longer consist merely of a series of lessonsin a set of subjects. It was rather a field of information, ideas,and sets of tools, disciplines, and methods, by which studentscould bring information and ideas to bear on the charge, thetask at hand. Educational method required the design ofsustained, productive assignments, situating them in fields ofknowledge and availing in these fields powerful tools thatstudents would find usable in pursuing the charge their teachershad put to them. Thus, learning has come to take place asstudents pursue various tasks, mobilizing fields of knowledgeand intellectual tools, in the process learning by doing. In theold system, extrinsic contexts—physical location and the schoolcalendar and routine—had done the real tracking of activity, butin the new, the curriculum had sufficient wherewithal built into itto keep track of precisely what parts of it each student had usedat what times for what purposes. Well-informed in this way oftheir options, even young students were empowered to makedecisions for themselves that teachers formerly had made fortheir pupils. The pedagogy became individualized and studentcentered to an extent never before possible. Educationalstrategies formerly associated with university-level work spreadthroughout the schools.Concomitantly, educators also re-conceived the work of teachersthanks to the same features of the computer-based curriculumthat made the learning of students cumulative. In the oldsystem, teaching had been a highly repetitive profession, withfew challenges to sustained self-development in it, for thematerial in the syllabus and in the text, year after year, hadremained static. But the integrated, multi-facetedcomputer-based curriculum comprised an inexhaustibleresource that teachers could continue to explore with vervethroughout their careers. As a result, in the twenty-first century,the profession gained significantly in stature.Soon, leaders in the profession and the public even developedimportant new policy justifications for the emergingcomputer-based system. Formerly, the public had typicallysupported classroom-based education because they hadperceived it to be a needed means to some extrinsicend—religious salvation, political power, economic security. Tobe sure, the new computer-based system continued to be auseful means to such goals. But in addition, they developed twofurther elements in an important new civic agenda for education.First, they made computer-based education a significant meansfor addressing some deep-seated problems of equity. The newsystem worked well for a broader cross-section of the populationbecause its resources were responsive to multiple forms ofintelligence and learning styles. Second, as the culture becamedigitized, education became, in the eyes of most people, an endworth pursuing in itself. A strange split had long existedbetween entertainment—held to be fun and amusing, but idleand small-minded—and education—considered to be work andlaborious, but constructive and enlarging. With the neweducational system, this split quickly disappeared. TheRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 6. consequence has been fundamental: in the twenty-secondcentury, most people generally rank educational opportunity, inpreference to social security, national defense, or materialprogress, as the key benefit of civilization.16¶ These developments took shape in the decade preceding andfollowing the year 2000. Educators gave up trying to introduce newtechnologies into the established system and they thought out analternative system, which ineluctably displaced the old one. Theycame to call it the Cumulative Curriculum, and one of its pioneers, theeducator Frank Moretti, described it this way:We seek to replace the superficial traveler through the sequentialschool, who collects knowledge trinkets to memorialize each stop onthe cultural itinerary, with the philosophical explorer, whose verysearch for knowledge is a search for self and community. The wordcumulative points to the growing personhood of the child. As the Latinindicates, it is a "heaping up" within. Able to instantly access thetotality of his work through time, the child has control of hisintellectual history as a series of understandings rather than the usualcryptic external judgments symbolized by [grades]. Accordingly, achild need not see each year as a separate beginning but rather as acontinuation of a substantially accumulated educational reality, whichis his currency entering a new year. The challenge for the child is tounderstand his rich past and to plan a series of strategies for movingto the next stage. He chooses his educational future in the context ofthe world within him that he has already shaped and formed. In thiscontext, adults have to give up the security that comes frompretending to know precisely what it is that children ought to learn, byyear, by subject. . . . The child begins with his own rich world, whichis the starting point of all inquiries. . . . He understands that the art hewill master is that of the tentative hypothesis, the value of which isdetermined by the degree to which it has to the power to explain.What the student of the cumulative curriculum will perceive as"learned" are formulations whose parenthood is not in doubt. Clearabout his ownership and authorship, he will perceive all that heknows as the immediate horizon of his all-too-human vision and willseek to extend it, to glimpse a new world and form newunderstandings that embrace the old.17¶ Once tried, this effort to help students take possession of theirown learning, to "heap it up from within," succeeded rapidly. Oldsequential school systems, which had seemed impervious to change,rapidly adopted the cumulative curriculum. Since its initiation at theturn of the twenty-first century, of course, the new system has evolvedsteadily, more and more thoroughly displacing the vestiges of theprint-based educational system. The results have been liberating andprofoundly progressive.18¶ Democracy, which had been, for the most part, a predominantlypolitical development through the twentieth century, has gained asubstantial cultural import. The persistent tendency of print-basededucation to reproduce and accentuate differences of power,privilege, and wealth has been decisively reversed. The digitization ofthe culture has been thorough and with it participation in its fullpowers has been decisively broadened and tools that strongly amplifyhuman powers of calculation and control have become accessible tonearly all. The great twentieth-century aspiration, verbalized by JohnDewey through Democracy and Education, has become substantivelyfulfilled, although in an environment of pedagogical practice quitedifferent from any he could then imagine.19¶ Shortly before the year 2000, a long era of international tensionsand war, in which national defense had been the prime function of thepolity, ended. Peoples of the major nations turned their energies morefully to nurturing their human potentials. The relaxation of tensionsRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 7. coincided with the development of the new media of education.Liberal reformers regained a sense of their efficacy and peoplebecame increasingly confident that they could at last solve thelong-standing human problems of industrial democracy. As the thirdmillennium began, the idealistic conviction of some, that each personhas a stake in the welfare and fulfillment of all, deepened into ageneral common sense. Material conditions and cultural convictionsconverged to provide the historical grounds for the worldwideeducative polity.20¶ Our informant from the future depicts an alluring vision, one thatwe may be tempted to dismiss as too optimistic. But these are timesof extraordinary potential and extraordinary change. Educators shouldnot face them blindly, recapitulating past expectations andassumptions. However solid seeming, our educational structures arehistorical creations, which make them subject to thoroughtransformation through the subsequent dynamics of continuinghistorical change.21¶ Our informant from the future draws our attention to the need tolook at the whole educational system in considering how to introduceinformation technologies into it. A basic proposition provides thegenerating principle of this essay: in order to have substantial effectimproving education, the digitization of our culture will need to elicit afull systemic innovation in education, one that changes not only themedium of cultural exchange, substituting digital code for print, butthe entire educational context for working with that medium.22¶ In the chapters that follow, I advance a case that systemicinnovation in education is both desirable and possible. I do so byessaying answers to some large questions:What significance for cultural history do computers have?What historic imperatives should educators recognize as fitmeasures for the worth of their work?Would widespread adoption of information technologies enableeducators to meet those imperatives more effectively thantraditional schools have done?How should educators, who want to develop the potentialities oftechnology in education, deal with the pedagogical environment,motivation and assessment, the organization of culture,pedagogy and educational method, and the role andpreparation of teachers?What civic agenda for education should guide efforts to achievethe pedagogical potentials of digital technologies?Each chapter successively addresses one of these questions.The chapters follow sequentially, but they reciprocally interactand hence their true sense inheres in the cumulative whole.Chapter Two - The Computer as a System23¶ Computers are like wheeled vehicles: they come in many shapesand sizes, each serving a different purpose. Moreover, the computerhas yet to mature. It is an emerging technology. Hence, to determinethe potential of computers in education, we need to understand whatthe computer is. To start, consider two distinctions, one betweentransitional and mature technology and the other between artifactsand systems.24¶ Complicated technologies take a long time to develop theirpotentialities. They also take capital. Developers cannot perfect theirtechnology in endless years of laboratory work and then deliver it,refined and complete, to a grateful public. To underwrite the costs ofperfecting a technology, developers must bring it to market longbefore it is mature. Profits from transitional implementations sustainRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 8. the development work, providing resources and disclosingunexpected opportunities for use. Computers have exemplified thisdrawn-out development: computers have evolved through severaldistinct, quite profitable incarnations, yet neither the time-sharingmainframe nor the standalone micro indicate fully what the computerwill be when the technology matures.25¶ In common speech, we generally do not distinguish betweentypical technological products and the technical systems that makethem usable. For instance, "television" can refer to the TV set, thatubiquitous appliance, or to the whole industry—the networks, theirbroadcasting installations, the news teams and production studios,advertisers, and all. Likewise, "automobile" can refer to the car in mydriveway or to the vast infrastructure—the manufacturers here andabroad, with their suppliers, advertisers, and dealers; all the roadsand bridges and the builders constructing and maintaining them; theservice stations and oil producers, refiners, and marketers; and themyriad of designers, workers, police, and service people who makethe system go. The car is both a separate artifact and a complexsystem.26¶ Currently, "computer" usually calls to mind the artifact, thestand-alone personal computer, like the one on which I am nowwriting. Most of us do not think much about the complex system ofwhich my PC is a transitory part. Computers as a system areimportant, however. The significance of computers for education willnot be well understood by thinking simply of a lot of separatemachines sprinkled through existing schools and colleges.Computers are an emergent infrastructure, a system, fully ascomplicated as that of the car. We need to think about what thatsystem is and how that infrastructure will work. Computers as asystem can be a powerful agent of change in education.27¶ To grasp the computer as a system, particularly as it matures, letus concentrate, on neither hardware nor software, but on anunderlying process, the digitization of information. The computer, as asystem, introduces a new way of representing information in ourculture, a new way of encoding ideas. When complete, it willconstitute a deep transition in our history, one equal in importance tothe introduction of printing, quite possibly to the development ofwriting itself. Essentially, the computer as a system will envelop allprevious modes of representing information, preserving andempowering them by integrating once separate domains ofcommunication into a unified, "multimedia" system.Information in Matter and Energy28¶ Think of the ways we commonly represent information—ascribbled note, a neatly printed page, a reflective sign, a paintedpicture, a ruler uniformly marked, a measuring cup, or the symbolicforms of church or court. With these, people have encoded ideas andinformation in material objects, in the ink upon the page or the shapeof the sculpted stone. Put most generally, through traditional ways ofencoding ideas, people expend energy to transform matter in waysthat they will find meaningful, making enduring marks and forms inwhich ideas inhere. People locate the information in the materialobject. When they do this according to a defined convention and art,the tangible, palpable results are our major forms of traditionalcommunication—documents, sculptures, pictures, monuments.29¶ Starting with the telegraph and developing through thetelephone, radio, television, and computer, people have begun to puttheir information into controlled pulses of energy itself. The materialobject, say the telephone, becomes a kind of transparent medium foran infinity of possible conversations encoded in different electricalwaves that the phone will generate, transmit, and receive.Increasingly people are representing information in controlled statesRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 9. of energy, not in matter, as they did traditionally. The new practicerequires various material tools, with which people apprehend on theirhuman scale the information located in energy, but the information isnot in the material, but in the energy. Thus the TV translates theinformation bearing energy into a material form that I can watch. Thepicture hanging on my wall is what it is because the information that itcontains is in the material that makes it up. My TV, in contrast, canreceive an infinity of images because the information it displays is notin the material of the set, but in the electromagnetic waves that itpicks up and decodes for me.30¶ This practice of locating information in energy states is notentirely new in our culture. One can take sound to be a form ofenergy, not a state of matter, and hold that through speech and songpeople have long encoded information in energy, using the ear as thenaturally developed, material receiving apparatus. Other senses, too,especially sight, kinesthesia, and the ability to feel hot and cold,derive much information from energy states and forms of force. Sometraditional tools of communication and control also provided readingsof the information in energy states. The clock measures time bycontrolling the release of energy in uniform units. The compassprovides a most informative reading of the orientation at any locationof the earths magnetic field. The governor on a steam engine directlytranslates a change in its energy state into a controlling action. Likethe TV—but unlike the painting on the wall—clocks, compasses, andgovernors all inform their users through their changing readings, notthrough their static states. More strictly speaking, these instrumentsdisplay information that is fortuitously located in states of energy,rather than encoding it in those states. Traditionally, only the voiceand musical instruments went beyond display to encode.31¶ Up until very recently, information encoded in energy has been,however useful and dynamic, troublesomely transient. Speech is theparadigmatic instance. It is powerful and nuanced, yet fleeting andunstable. For a time memory preserves its residue, and writing fixes astiff representation of it in stable matter. But much is lost. Thistransience also characterizes many modern media that encodeinformation in wave forms, substituting electricity for sound as theenergy medium. Thus telephone, radio, and television have enabledpeople to encode sound and gesture in electromagnetic waves,amplifying these vastly, without making them much more enduring.Recording signals on tape and other media makes such materialreproducible, and thus enduring. Yet this has been a recent, ancillarydevelopment. So far, the power of electromagnetic media hasresulted from the breadth of their transient reach, not from the easewith which productions can be reproduced.32¶ This transience of electromagnetically encoded informationfundamentally affected the usefulness of broadcast media foreducation. Entertainment results from encountering culturalexperiences for their immediate, present value—they amuse, inspire,absorb, purge, distract, or release us now. Education involves us withcultural works of enduring importance—we acquire skills, ideas,beliefs, knowledge, information that will empower us over time in theconduct of life. The things at stake in education are the elements ofthe culture that are on-going, lasting resources. Consequently, theeducationally important media are the ones that represent and makesuch enduring ideas and skills available to people. For the most part,these have been the media that locate information in material objects,particularly in printed texts and pictures.33¶ Commentators complain that educators have done little with themajor communications developments of the twentieth century.Despite high hopes, radio and television have not become importanteducational resources and some infer therefore that education isresistant to technological change. This inference is wrong. TheRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 10. photograph, which extends the pictorial capacity to locate informationon film and paper, has been seamlessly incorporated into education.It improves the capacity to work with lasting ideas and information,and educators have quickly adopted photographs in the processes ofresearch and instruction. As conservative a field as art history tookwithout hesitation to 35mm color slides because they served theintellectual needs of the subject. So too, recorded music has becomea natural part of music education, far more so than have broadcastperformances, for the recordings are stable, enduring resources thatdifferent students at different times can study, each with uniquepurposes in mind. Recordings suit the needs of education becausethey are stable, easily stored and retrieved, while broadcasts suit theneeds of entertainment, absorbing us in their immediate presence.34¶ Educators cannot resist new technologies, provided thosetechnologies have characteristics suitable to educational purposes,foremost among those being a permanence in time. Stop for amoment to consider film, which encodes information in stable,material form yet has not come into robust use in education. Is it anexception to the rule here propounded? No. With respect todissemination and retrieval, film is not as stable as it might seem. Filmis bulky, hard to store, costly to project, and easily damaged. It canbe best disseminated in a quasi-broadcast fashion with printsdistributed to numerous theaters more or less at the same time, withthe production playing as long as it can command a full audience andthen disappearing into an archive, from which films are not easy toretrieve. These distribution constraints have made movies, until veryrecently, far more effective as media of entertainment than ofeducation.35¶ Computers as a system will change that, and much more.Broadly speaking, the communication innovations since themid-nineteenth century have created a family of technologies forencoding diverse forms of information in energy. The computer is themost recent in this series of innovations, and it is likely, historically, toincorporate all those leading up to it into itself. What seem to us to beseparate industries with separate technologies will become branchesof a single comprehensive industry and technology, the computer asa system.36¶ One can now see large corporations jockeying to capitalize onthis consolidation of technologies. For instance, the major Japaneseelectronics firms seem to be calculating that they can best shape thisprocess by combining business communication with theentertainment industries, buying up major entertainmentconglomerates while designing ever-more computing power intohome entertainment devices. The emerging system, however, may infact be far more robust if built on a combination oftelecommunications and education. Digital technologies enhance thestaying power of information in time, expanding its educative powerrelative to its currency as entertainment. We will be developing thethesis that the computer is rapidly incorporating the modern media inone comprehensive system, a system of knowledge and education.The Analog and the Digital37¶ We distinguished between technologies that locate information inmatter, for instance sculpting and printing, and those that locate it instates of energy, for instance radio and computers. Among the latter,we need to make important further distinctions, which have to do withthe techniques people use to encode information in energy. To graspthe cultural import of the computer as a system incorporating all themedia of communication, to appreciate its potential power, we need toreflect on the way that it encodes information in energy, seeing howthat differs from other techniques.38¶ Analog coding serves effectively for some specializedRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 11. computational purposes, but almost all computers, from tiny palmtopsto huge supercomputers, work with information stored in digital code.Such digital code differs profoundly from the analog codes usedtypically in radio and television. In the paragraphs that follow, we willreflect on how digital code differs from analog and then consider fivematters that determine the value of information for human activity—production and reproduction, storage, transmission, selectiveretrieval, and intelligent processing. Through these considerations,we will form a sense of why the computer, as it matures, will be a verysignificant step in our history.39¶ Note at the outset that we could apply this distinction betweenanalog and digital coding to the media that use matter to carryinformation. For instance, painting and sculpture are highly analogmedia, whereas alphabetic writing is interestingly ambiguous. It isanalog insofar as it is phonetic and digital insofar as it is a prescriptiveset of legible conventions. But it would take us afield to pursue thesedistinctions with respect to media that locate information in matter, forour concerns here are primarily with the media that carry informationin energy. How does the digital coding of information in energy differfrom the analog?40¶ Analog systems encode information in energy by using theproperties of continuous waves so that each successive change in theamplitude of the wave will be analogous to a change in sound orappearance in the human world. Lets construct an example. Take adishtowel. Holding each corner of one end in each hand, flap itrhythmically in front of you, making it undulate up and down. It is nothard to control the beat of the flapping, making each flap identical induration, perhaps slow and long or quick and short. That beat is likethe frequency of an analog signal. Usually it does not carry theinformation, but when we are surrounded by many different signals,each with a different frequency, it allows us to find the one signal wewant. Observe the flapping towel, however. From beat to beat, it willhave all sorts of variations, curving this way then that, depending onsubtle changes in the orientation of your hands to each other and thetension they put on the cloth. If you could control the flappingskillfully enough, you could make each change in the way the towelundulated match some other, analogous change in a completelydifferent wave, say the ever changing sounds of a symphony or rockconcert. At that point, you would have encoded the concert in theflapping towel rather like the way radio encodes a concert in anelectromagnetic amplitude or frequency.41¶ Like the sound itself, the flapping is transient. Analog encodingdepends on making significant changes in the energy state of thewave, a most unstable phenomena. Digital encoding is much morestable. Put down the towel and flip the light switch on the wall. Theswitch has gone from "on" to "off;" it was stable in its former state andis stable in its latter. The light switch is a digital device, although onethat does not accomplish much in the way of communication andcontrol. To see simple signals controlling more complicated processesoccurring around you, look at another digital switch, the stoplight atthe corner. It has two basic states, red or green—amber is not really astate, but a cue that a change of state is about to happen. There aretwo unambiguous states, green-go, red-stop. These are easilystandardized, stable, and remarkably effective in controlling complexflows of matter and energy. The stoplight is very much like the smallcharge in a transistor in that one state allows traffic to move and theother calls it to a halt.42¶ Our basic red-green stoplight is a binary digital system—binarybecause there are two alternatives and digital because those consistof discrete, unambiguously different states. The typical electric stove,with options on each burner running from warm to high, has a quinarydigital control on its coils—quinary because there are five alternativesRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 12. and digital because each of these is distinct from the others. Thus,digital systems can in principle have different numbers of basicalternatives, but computers almost always use a binary system,building many subtle variations from a multiplicity of either-ors.43¶ A digital state is what it is, discrete, unambiguous, disjunctive.Digital code does not capture changes similar to other changes, itpresents a set of values that are what they are. Digital coding followsa principle akin to encrypting—there is only one message, which,when encrypted, is put in a way that makes it look indecipherable.With the appropriate key, however, the cryptographer finds themessage, not something like the original, but the original itself. Forinstance, the apparatus for recording music digitally measures soundfrequencies at successive instances and records the numeric value ofthe frequencies. These are samples of the actual sound, notlikenesses to it. Digital coding samples a phenomenon, registers thesample, and then reproduces the phenomenon from the sample. Ifthe sampling technique and the technique of reproducing from thesample are very good, it can be extremely hard to distinguish theoriginal from the reproduction. What is coded is an exact value,precisely what it is and nothing else.44¶ What is encoded digitally, therefore, is actually very different fromwhat is encoded in an analog system. The digital system encodes asample of the thing whereas the analog system encodes an analogyto it. Again, let us construct an example. Consider a full wheel ofcheddar cheese. Describing the cheese by analogy can be difficult. Imight say it is about the size and shape of an old-time hatbox andthat it is heavy, as if the hatbox were filled with water. Its color is likecustard and it tastes—this is the important, difficult part—somewhatlike grapefruit, although its texture in the mouth is very different, a bitlike a firm fudge that crumbles and then softens into a paste as onechews it. Describing the cheddar by a sample of it is much simpler. Icut you a little piece, perhaps several from different places in thewheel. The sample is the cheese and you can sniff it or taste itdirectly from the sample.45¶ When we digitally code the sample, we register what the sampleis on an appropriate scale and we code that value, not someapproximate likeness to it. Consider recording a singers voicedigitally. At numerous intervals the recording samples the exactsound frequency of the voice, registering in a matrix of precise valueswhat, at each sampling instant, the frequency was. The digitalrecording carries no information about the voice during the intervalsbetween the sampling instants, but it carries the exact frequency of itat those instants. If the sampling frequency is sufficiently rapid, thesound of the reproduced voice will be essentially identical to theoriginal. Digital code allows the playback to reconstruct the voice.Thus, digital coding registers sampled values, not approximatesimilarities. That is its first point of difference with analog coding.46¶ Secondly digital code differs from analog because it resistsdegradation far more effectively. Electrical systems, like everythingelse, are subject to entropy. Every circuit has in it randomfluctuations. Computers are not wondrously free of such static. Minorfluxes are a big problem in analog coding because the locus ofinformation is in tiny incremental differences in the amplitude ofwaves, which the random fluxes in circuits can easily affect. In theabsolute, digital systems are equally subject to noise, but the locus ofinformation is in the basic energy state, not in small changes of thatstate. When the significant point is simply whether a circuit is on oroff, it allows for a huge threshold before an intrusive fluctuation willbecome significant, making a circuit that is "on" appear to be "off" orvice versa.47¶ To construct an example, consider a binary test for whether or notRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 13. it is raining: looking out my apartment window to see if the sidewalk iswet or dry. This test is subject to noise—perhaps in this case weshould call it "splash." During the summer window air-conditioners inthe building adjacent condense water on hot, humid days, splotchingthe sidewalk. Also on the road on the other side there is a low spotwhere water collects from a leaky hydrant and occasionally passingcars splash it onto the sidewalk. Like the noise in the electricalsystem, extraneous wetness sometimes partially covers a drypavement. This rarely confuses my binary test, however, because Iestablish a threshold—it is raining if the sidewalk is fully, uniformlywet and it is not raining if the sidewalk is dry, or partially splotchedfrom random sources of water. Given the substantial thresholdpossible in a binary system, very, very rarely will electrical noisecause the misreading of a bit of information.48¶ In sum, in comparison to analog coding, digital code registersvalues that are attributes of the thing being coded, not likenesses toit, and those values, once coded, will be remarkably resistant to erroror degradation. These characteristics make digital code immenselyuseful in processes of communication and control.Digitization and Communication49¶ Digital code records samples of phenomena, not analogies tothem, and it does so by techniques that are remarkably stable andaccurate. By themselves, these characteristics may not seem soextraordinary. But put in context, the context of human use, they havevery significant effects on the computer as a communication system.Whatever the medium, in order to communicate people need to beable to produce and reproduce information, to store it, to transmit it,to select among it, and to process it intelligently in the course ofaction. These five areas determine the relative historic value ofdifferent communication techniques. Reproduction, storage,transmission, selection, intelligent action: communication techniquesthat perform these functions well serve human needs well. Becausedigital coding registers samples of things and because it resists errorand degradation, it has interesting effects in each of these five areas.These effects will determine how the computer as a system cancontribute to our unfolding cultural history.50¶ We begin with the problem of producing and reproducinginformation. What sort of information can one produce with a typicalanalog medium, audio tape, for instance? The answer defines a widerange of matters—anything that can be recorded through anelectromagnetic analog to sound within certain frequency ranges—anaria but not a painting, a speech but not a balance sheet. The analogtechniques used in the audio system must be closely coupled to thephenomena they record so that the way they modulateelectromagnetic waves is precisely analogous to the particular wavepatterns they are recording. To use the audio system to recordimages or the financial transactions of a bank, complex and carefuladjustments need to be made in it, radical adjustments that convertthe audio system into something quite different. Here the constraintsof the analog medium limit the sort of information the system canrecord. With the digital system, we can produce a much more flexiblerange of information. As a result, digital coding can absorb both theanalog media for carrying information in energy and many of the moretraditional media that carry information in matter. For instance, themost familiar digital application now is word processing, enablingpeople to manipulate electronically the material system of writing withfar greater flexibility, precision, and ease that traditional means haveavailed. In due course, anything that we can represent with asymbolically coded sample, we can record in a digital system.51¶ It is not a trivial task to implement this potentiality. But it isinexorably happening. The first wave of computer uses involveddiverse numerical applications. The microcomputer extended theseRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 14. and added extensive textual applications. Recently softwaredesigners have incorporated two-dimensional graphics into manyprograms for general use and three-dimensional imaging for specialneeds. Supercomputers have begun to record vast samplings ofextremely complex phenomena that were simply beyond the ken ofanalog media—climate change and molecular structures, forinstance. With compact discs, the audio industries have developedand marketed the digital recording of sound, which is fast beingincorporated into computing systems. The television and computingindustries together are rapidly generating digital systems forproducing and recording moving images. Techniques for samplingnearly all the forms of information and capturing them in digital codeare quickly developing. In its basic sense, the concept of "multimedia"is this practice of integrating in one system all forms of producibleinformation. When we speak of the computer enveloping other mediaand incorporating them into itself, we mean the capacity, unique todigital coding, to produce and reproduce many different forms ofrecordable information. Multimedia implements this capacity.52¶ The difficulties in implementing multimedia are not primarily"technical," in the laymans sense of the term. Ordinarily we think thatthe technical problem lies in designing an apparatus to accomplish anovel purpose. In many areas, making the apparatus is relativelysimple, and it can be done in numerous different ways. What isdifficult is setting a controlling standard that will establish agreementon which one of the possible ways to design the apparatus will be theone put into common use. This is in part a question of technicalstandards—for instance, what sampling rates will be standard fordigitally encoded sound or what screen resolution will be standard fordigital high-definition television (HDTV)? But the problems ofcontrolling standards goes far beyond the domain of technicalstandards—long established branches of law and language are atstake as well.53¶ Thus, the production and reproduction of information is notsimply a technical process. It is a process controlled by law anddriven by incentives. Digital coding of information will affect thesedomains as well. For instance, copyright makes sense in a system inwhich people locate information in material objects—copying consistsin expending the energy to implant the information in matter,preeminently by putting ink on a page. Copying information that islocated in matter is a laborious, error-prone process, subject to legalprocesses. Recording and reproducing information that is located inenergy has very different characteristics. It becomes extremelyinexpensive, with the result that it can be done ad hoc by anyone whopossesses easily available, inexpensive tools. Already, spontaneousreproduction through analog means, such as photocopying and audioand video tape, has put considerable stress on laws pertaining to theright to copy. The broadcast industries have had to develop novelways to realize economic benefit from cultural works, ways that turnless on the right to copy and more on the right to use a work.54¶ With digital coding the reproduction of material becomes evenfaster, cheaper, and vastly more accurate than it does with analogelectronic media. Once something has been sampled and captured indigital code, the idea of a copy of that sample ceases to make muchsense. The copy is not really a copy, but a second instance of theoriginal. The computer radically changes the conditions bearing onthe reproduction of information and ideas. Once the infrastructure isin place, the reproduction of materials has a negligible cost withrespect to materials, work, or quality. In principle, in a digitallyencoded culture, anyone can have instances of anything they wishwithout added cost to the system. It will require an elaborate processof technical, social, and legal development to achieve actualize suchpotentialities.Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 15. 55¶ Digital coding will also transform the problem of storinginformation. Librarians concerned with the preservation of materialstraditionally attend closely to the durability of paper and its possiblesubstitutes. The key question they ask is: "How long will it last?" Thismakes a lot of sense as long as the information is located in matter. Ifthe paper will quickly degrade, the cultural community will soon needto reprint its materials or reproduce them on some alternative materialsuch as microfiche. The shelf-life of all this is important as each cycleof reproduction is very costly, as well as an occasion for material to belost and errors in reproduction to creep in. With digitally codedmaterials, shelf-life remains limited, but the costs of reproduction andthe likelihood of errors arising from reproduction drastically declines.Hence, the keepers of the heritage need to rethink the standardprinciples of storage and preservation. Continuous reproduction canmake the quest for durability unnecessary. Since reproduction is verycheap and very accurate, the problem is not one of finding the mostenduring materials and keeping them as stable as possible. Ratherthe problem becomes one of regularly refreshing the energy-states inwhich the information is located and making sure that it is scattered inenough separate instances that a catastrophic failure in one instancewould not obliterate the heritage.56¶ Other, more novel problems of storage also arise. With respect toinformation located in material objects, we naturally store materials ininstitutions adapted to the attributes of the objects. Thus we uselibraries for books and museums for paintings and artifacts. Muchintellectual specialization arises because people need specific skills towork effectively in these different collection of material resources.Insofar as we can record all these resources in digital code, we willstore them in one, comprehensive system and we will therebydiminish in power many objective goads to intellectual specialization.57¶ As digital coding makes information easier to store with muchdiminished threat of loss, so too it improves our ability to transmitinformation. Transportation costs and limitations have long been asignificant determinant of communication capacities. Through thetwentieth century, techniques of coding information in energy havegreatly reduced the costs and limits on its transmission. With thesubstitution of digital for analog coding, these developments areextending far further as we enter the twenty-first century. Analogsystems using energy as the medium have developed two majorprinciples: point-to-point circuit switching, as through the telephone,and the use of wide information channels in broadbandtransmissions, as through radio and television broadcasting. Digitalsystems are combining and unifying these two principles, allowing thelinks between point-to-point switched circuits to be wide informationchannels, creating a single transmission net of extraordinary flexibilityand power.58¶ We are already everyday users of the basic principles essential tothese changes. My mother is eighty-eight and legally blind, but shecan use a push-button phone with confidence and has a good headfor phone numbers and thus she keeps up familial and socialconnections all over, in Mexico, in Canada, and around the UnitedStates. Each time she dials someones number, she instructs thephone system to establish connections within its circuits to link herphone with that of the person she is calling. Phones code anddecode voices from a very simple electrical signal that can be easilytransmitted through complex switching systems and has a narrowband for coding information, one just sufficient for the low-fidelityreproduction of ordinary speech. How much traffic the phone systemcan bear depends on how many separate circuits it can switchtogether at any time and on how many separate transmissions itstrunk lines can aggregate together in simultaneous calls. Youll get abusy signal if the system runs out of switches or transmission room.Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 16. 59¶ Radio and television use much wider bandwidths, and they codethem more intensely, with the result that their signals can be muchmore complex than those of the telephone. Thus radio can reproducesound with much greater quality that the telephone, and the amountof information transmitted via television far exceeds that used in aphone conversation. The wider bandwidth, however, makes point-to-point switching in such transmissions more complicated to dowithout introducing noise into the signal, and without overwhelmingthe capacity of connecting circuits when many parallel transmissionsare traveling on them simultaneously. Various properties of digitalcoding facilitate the combination of circuit switching with theinformation intensive transmissions that characterize broadbandsystems.60¶ Both analog and digital systems make use of what we will callmicro-time, the actuality of incredibly brief instants. For instance,radio waves fluctuate several million times per second and eachfluctuation produces some of the information we hear. The higher thefrequency, the more information the signal can contain, provided wecan keep the receiver tuned to the proper spot upon the spectrumand provided we can minimize interference between signals and othersources of noise. Because the information bearing medium is acontinuous wave, however, we find it much easier to propagate theinformation onto the medium at the rate it occurs at, and at which it isto be received. In contrast, when the information has been capturedin digital code, it becomes much easier to make use of micro-time inmore flexible ways: capture, transmission, and delivery can beseparated. The pace of capture depends on the pace of thephenomenon, what we call "real time." Transmission of the binaryunits, the bits encoding the phenomenon, can take place in differenttime—it can squeeze into each tenth of a second, or less, theinformation needed for one second of conversation, giving the circuitto other conversations for the remaining nine-tenths, or more, of eachsecond. By this technique, and others like code compression anderror correction, the capacity of a circuit carrying digital data can begreatly expanded.61¶ Further, the transmission of analog data depends very closely onthe particular characteristics of the transmitting medium. With thetransmission of digital data, it does not matter what the transmittingmedium is, provided that medium has been adapted to transmit digitalcode. Thus all the different electromagnetic transmission media incommon use now easily transmit digital data. More importantly, newmedia, useless for transmitting analog information, for instance, laserlight in fiber optic cable, increasingly transmit digitized informationwith significant gains in speed and volume, at lowered cost, and withincreased dependability. The frequencies of light waves are muchhigher than those of electromagnetic waves. Hence, we can packinformation far more densely per unit of time into light for transmissionover fiberoptic cables than we can with electricity over wires orelectromagnetic signals in space. The usable bandwidth is much,much wider. The higher density allows much more intensetimesharing of the circuit and the greater bandwidth means that ineach instant a much larger load of information will be chargingthrough the circuit. As a result, a system is emerging in which allforms of information—text, numerics, graphics, audio, video—can betransmitted, switched from point-to-point, as easily as we can with thephone.62¶ Digital coding, thus, is making possible the use of one system toproduce all forms of information, to reproduce anything in the systemwith low cost and little loss, to provide for its indefinite storagethrough this process of continuous reproduction, and to transmit anyelement of it to any user fast and cheaply. By themselves, thesedevelopments make oodles of good information easily accessible,Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 17. threatening to overwhelm the user in a vast Babel of bits. These threecharacteristics are of a piece with each other, setting limits on whatintellectual resources a culture can provide its members. But they donot, alone, make for a well developed system of communication.63¶ Selective retrieval, enabling people to get precisely theinformation they want and when they need it, has always been a keyproblem of culture and communication. How can you get from theculture the ideas and information that you want and need? And evenmore perplexing, how can the culture intimate to you and everyoneelse what possibilities of interest it does and does not offer in theinfinity of circumstances surrounding us? Retrieval is a fundamentalproblem of all cultures, and it is becoming an even more pressingproblem with digitally coded information. It is the fourth determinant ofcommunication effectiveness in history and the widespreaddigitization of information is transforming it as well.64¶ Throughout history, major communication advances have broughtwith them new ways to retrieve information. The practice of citingbooks and articles by title and author, edition and page, rose to fullsignificance in the era of print. The printed book, which could bedistributed in many locations in identical versions, needed somelogically effective technique of reference and recall, one that wouldwork in many different places and many different times. Prior to thatpeople referred far more vaguely to an author and an argument orthesis, and to retrieve the actual text a scholar needed to know wherea specific instance was physically located, with diverse works boundtogether for convenience. Today, people often handle their personallibraries in this pre-print fashion, jumbling certain books together sayby size, or just shelving them as they come, able to find any particularone, not by a sense of logical order, but by having a feel for where itis by some sense of spatial juxtaposition. That works for smalllibraries, but it spells chaos for large collections of printed books. Forthose, people needed to develop far more systematic techniques ofreference and recall.65¶ With digitally coded information, the situation is much the same:people need to master new, more powerful retrieval routines tomanage the cornucopia of information. These techniques relate to twodifferent problems in the use of information—exchanging informationand applying ideas. In both exchanging ideas and applying them toproblems, people need to retrieve information selectively. Exchangingmaterials is somewhat similar to the phenomena of point-to-pointswitched circuits while applying them is related to finding a station orchannel in broadcast communication. Exchange requires the preciseidentification of start and end points and application requires thesubstantive sifting through extensive materials to select out theprecise components pertinent to the problem at hand. Since theproblems and prospects in each domain are rather different, let usconsider each briefly in turn.66¶ Our means for managing the exchange of information havealready been heavily influenced by characteristics of digital coding, atleast insofar as digital coding involves discrete units, as distinct fromcontinuous waves. For instance, integer numbers are a system ofdigital entities: each number is discrete, autonomous, separate fromany other. So too is the alphabet, which is a more restricted set ofdiscrete elements, most simplistically twenty-six, but preferably 256, ifwe take extended ASCII code as the norm. Long before computers,people became adept at using numbers and letters to assign preciselocators to all sorts of objects, persons, phones, buildings, accounts,parts, and so on.83 Implementation of these coding principles indigital computers enhances our capacity to manage them greatly,extending the scope, precision, and speed of the process. Insubstance, the problem of addressing things so that informationabout them can be exchanged from point-to-point is less technicalRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 18. than sociopolitical: the problem of privacy, of censorship, of decidingwhat limits, if any, to place on the reach of possible exchange.Whenever the power to exchange information increases significantly,it brings such problems with it. The abuse of privacy thus seems to bea structural issue, occurring at the margins where new ways tomanage exchange are developing. Historically, people seem to opt foraccepting the benefits of new systems of information exchange, afterinstituting measures to ensure that they will not be used to subvertpersonal security and integrity. Unfortunately, this trade-off has notalways been benign as the tragic abuses of totalitarian regimes ofright and left repeatedly demonstrate. As computers make it possibleto exchange information that was formerly "private," easily kept tooneself, we will need to face up to difficult issues of defining limitsand controlling abuses.67¶ Retrieval that involves sifting, selecting, and applying ideaspresents different problems and opportunities. Our existingtechniques for doing this involve time-consuming secondaryprocessing of materials—indexing books, abstracting articles,cataloguing things under key words and subject headings, addingcaptions to pictures and tables, annotating works with cross-references and footnotes. Digital coding makes these practices moreeffective in three significant ways. First it facilitates the processing bycreating tools to help people to index, abstract, caption, andcatalogue their culture. This presents us incremental gains. Second,it makes many traditional references, which had been unidirectionalfrom one work to another, usefully bidirectional. Only where veryspecial indexes have been laboriously developed can I go into alibrary and ask for a list of works that cite a passage that speciallyinterests me. In a digital environment, the electronic reference thatimplements a note will point both ways, something that will maketraditional references useful in powerful new ways. Third, traditionalreferences implemented digitally will save users much time andenergy, for following out a reference will be nearly instantaneous.Currently it is often hard to maintain a train of thought in following areference as one needs to go off to the library or bookstore, perhapshaving to wait weeks for a work to arrive from a distance. Digitallycoded links will be fast and transparent. Together, these threechanges will significantly enhance traditional resources for thereflective retrieval of ideas and the application of them to ourcontrolling purposes.68¶ In addition, new retrieval resources are under development.These require no intelligent pre-processing of materials aside fromthe capture of them in digital code. Instead, the end-user of thematerial specifies criteria of interest, and the system matchesmaterials in it against these criteria, showing the resultant possibilitiesand allowing the user to further winnow the results, should that benecessary. These principles have been most fully developed withrespect to the retrieval of textual materials. Their novelty stillengenders some confusion, and many people, among them evenprofessional librarians, misuse the concept of "full-text retrieval." Thussome think it simply means retrieving for an inquirer the full text of adocument, rather than an abstract of it. More properly it meansconducting the search for matches to an inquirers criteria of interestagainst the full-text of everything in a collection, rather than against alist of keywords. Techniques for such full-text retrieval are becomingboth sophisticated and fast, and users can apply them to both theflow of current information generated through correspondence, calls,and news, as well as to libraries of accumulated information.69¶ Techniques of search and retrieval have historically developed farmore fully with respect to text than with other forms of information. Upto now, we use text to catalogue most other forms—maps, pictures,numeric tables, films, recordings, and so on. Yet text processing isRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 19. not the only form of intelligent recall and retrieval that we can do. Wecan often find our way to places with a visual-spatial memory that ismuch more effective that verbally forming a set of directions forourselves. We associate both moods and ideas with various soundsand melodies and even colors and places. All this suggests thatbeyond full-text retrieval, there lies the domain of "non-text retrieval."In non-text retrieval we might point to a geometric relationship andrequest the computer to search a graphic database for otherinstances of the similar relation or play a chord and have the systemcall up musical compositions in which it occurs. Non-text retrievalshould in principle be possible with digitally coded information, but forthe most part it is a possibility that awaits development.70¶ One area in which non-text retrieval has been underway for sometime, however, gives an idea of its potential power—statisticalprocessing. Statistics can be thought of as a numeric system forselecting and retrieving information that allows for judgments ofsignificance and relevance that are very hard by textual means alone.Also, the ability to zoom-in and zoom-out to different levels of detailon graphical materials such as maps, diagrams, and photos providessubstantial non-text retrieval capacities. In general, digital codeenables us to capture and link different kinds of information pertinentto complex phenomena and to represent their interactions in waysthat we can see or hear, using those senses to select directlybetween combinations. All sorts of complex controls work this way,especially in simulation systems and innumerable computer games.71¶ These variations on non-text retrieval really carry us intoconsideration of the fifth area in which digital coding is deeplyinfluencing our culture—the intelligent processing of information. Forthe most part, up to the twentieth century, communication tools usedexternal artifacts to extend the memory, while leaving the intelligentprocessing of ideas to take place almost exclusively inside the humanbody and brain. Through cultural history, people have accumulatedvast stores of memory projected outside themselves into man-madeobjects. Despite all that externalization of memory, the possibleagents for the key verbs describing intelligent operations oninformation and ideas are still almost exclusively human person—perceiving, sensing, thinking, correlating, inferring, deducing,concluding, and so on. With the computer, man-made objects arebecoming useful in performing these intelligent operations.72¶ Memory, to be meaningful, must ultimately return to a sentienthuman mind—a library unread is not a culture preserved. Inexternalizing memory into material objects, humans have notalienated memory from ourselves, but enhanced our capacity toremember by transferring parts of the task to objects that we makeand manage. So too, in externalizing intellectual activity, we do notentirely alienate it from ourselves. Instead we compensate forlimitations, strengthen capacities for demanding operations, andenhance attention, precision, finesse, or speed.73¶ To understand how the computer is accelerating the transfer ofintelligence to external tools, it is important to realize that this is not asudden novelty in our culture. We perceive the world with our sensesand prepare it for thought: through most of history, people did thiswithout the aid of instruments. That began to change some centuriesago. We can interpret the rise of modern science as the intellectualfruits of externalizing capacities for perception into instruments ofobservation. Clocks and chronometers permitted people to perceivetime with ever greater precision. The telescope and microscopeenhanced the human capacity to see distances and details. Thethermometer lent accuracy to our capacity to perceive differences ofhot and cold. Exact scales and rules and other measures, tuningforks, prisms, filters, balances, samples, gages, a wondrous panoplyof instruments, allowed inquiring minds to develop the empirical baseRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 20. of observation upon which they built our stock of scientificunderstanding.74¶ By working with digitally coded information, instrument designersare extending the power of perception greatly. The unmanned space-probes reporting on the solar system have perhaps been the mostdramatic of these extensions, with wondrous photographs and otherreadings radioed back as masses of digital code. Not since theinvention of the telescope has our ability to perceive the universearound us so leaped forward. But digital read-outs are all around uswith the computer creeping into all sorts of mundane tools, enhancingour capacity to track and control their use. For many decades carinstrumentation, for instance, was very stable, consisting of a fewanalog gages that indicated the cars speed and possibly the RPMsof the engine, while additionally giving key hints about the state of thecars fuel, coolant, engine oil, and electrical system. Thats fastchanging now with digital sensors in new and old places giving amuch more exact picture of the cars condition of operation, with anonboard computer relating readings to one another—"its gettingpretty close to empty" gives way to "range remaining fifteen miles."The computer will greatly extend the reach and accuracy ofinstrumentation as people apply it with increasing effects to smallmatters and large.75¶ With the computer, people can externalize into their instrumentsmore than their powers of perception. When Edison claimed that"genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percentperspiration," he probably thought that the human capacity for bothinspiration and perspiration were basically fixed, and by perspirationhe had in mind the laborious calculations needed to test speculativeinsight, separating good from bad. Digital systems do not do awaywith the need for perspiration, but they extend what we canaccomplish with a given amount of it. Most forms of calculation,correlation, combination, and connection that people can make,computers can help them make better. They can expand our abilitiesto sort, order, rank, and select. Even this process of externalizingpowers of calculation is not entirely new historically, as one who hasworked with a slide rule will realize, but it is being vastly increased.The consequences are likely to be very great.76¶ Many people think that numeric calculation is the peculiar domainfor computers, but their reach goes far beyond numbers. Thecomputer can operate on anything that in some meaningful way canbe represented in digital code through an organized data structure.And any operation that can be accurately described within thecompass of binary logic—AND, OR, NOT—the computer can perform.Let us leave as moot whether people can, or should, or ever will,externalize into tools that one percent of their genius—inspiration.They are externalizing in all sorts of ways that other ninety-ninepercent, amplifying greatly their powers to calculate and controlobjects of their attention. Even if artificial intelligence, in the sense ofthe computer being an autonomous rational agent, is not sooncoming to pass, if ever, AI, in the sense of amplified intelligence, israpidly emerging all about us. We need to come to terms with itsimplications.77¶ This, then, is the computer. It is the representation of our culturein digital code and the development of all the cultural possibilities thatresult. The computer makes cultural work easier to produce andreproduce, to preserve, to transmit, potentially acceleratingintellectual attainment and opening cultural access in unprecedentedways. The computer greatly augments human powers of selection,memory, perception, and calculation, potentially amplifying theintelligence that each and all can bring to bear upon the panoply ofquestions that life puts to them. We turn to the implications of thiscomputer for the activity of education.Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 21. Chapter Three - The Educators Mission78¶ Digitizing our culture will occasion significant historical change. Itwill not do so overnight, but in a matter of decades as we round oneof historys majestic promontories. Should we go by adrift, blown thisway, then that, in mindless disarray? Or should we sail confidentlyaround the cape, adventuring hope and considering intent?79¶ Only a catastrophe will stop us from rounding this historic point,driven by a powerful means of communication. This assertion doesnot propound a technological determinism, wrought as if technologywere some suprahuman force, determining our lives apart from us.Technology is one human, all-too-human, means that people havealways used to make their history. We, like they, will live with theconsequences, and we need to take responsibility for how we shapeour lives with our historic innovations, the computer among them. Insaying that we are rounding an historic bend created by our inventingnew communications technologies, we propound no determinism; wesimply characterize the effect of human initiatives on the humandestiny.80¶ Thus Norbert Wiener, one of the key innovators in thedevelopment of automatic control systems, called his reflections onthe social implications of cybernetics, The Human Use of HumanBeings. One might think this title strange, if one thinks of thecomputer as something separate and apart from human beings. But itmakes good sense, if one recognizes that the computer simply helpsto enlarge our human abilities. The computer is extending humancapacities to remember, to perceive, to think. It neither displacesthese powers nor obviates our needs for them. Through technology,humanity augments itself, and humans are as responsible for theirconduct with their powers augmented as they were without. As weextend our intellectual faculties with the computer, what human useof human beings should we fashion with them, particularly aseducators?The Reciprocity of Equity and Excellence81¶ Equity and excellence: these aspirations have drawn Westernculture into modernity, and for better and for worse they are pullingthe other cultures of the world along. Both equity and excellence aremany-sided aspirations and they have long stood in a creative tensionwith each other. Historically, educational effort has been one of themeans for cultivating both equity and excellence in productive, potentways.82¶ Let us survey the historical significance of equity and excellence,the mission these qualities perform in life. In doing that, we do notintend to define them philosophically. We will neither arguenormatively that here is the one correct conception of equity orexcellence, nor pick analytically, exposing flaws in this or that version.Instead, we inquire why representatives of our tradition have takenequity and excellence seriously, seeing important matters to be atstake through them. What has been the use and disadvantage ofequity and excellence in cultural experience?83¶ Equity generates historical vigor. Where there is no equity, thefavored become arrogant while the deprived become despairing. Withan approximate equity, all persons and groups engage fully, fromwithin, in the realization of their unique potentialities. Equity is to thepolity what good conditioning is to the athlete.84¶ Rarely has anyone argued that equity should produce universalsameness, entailing precise equality with everyone getting the samemeasure of goods, neither a jot more nor less, than anyone else.Human beings and their circumstances vary too much in real ways formathematical identity to be the norm of equity. The norm of equity,however, cannot tolerate differences that are too extreme, so extremeRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 22. that one person cannot recognize commonalty with another. Whetherthe cleavage be between rich or poor, townsfolk or peasant, minorityor majority, domiciled or homeless, or any other distinguishing mark, itcannot be so great as to define separate orders of being that have nomutuality, one with the other. When that happens, equity disappears.85¶ Equity involves respect for differences within a broad ambit ofcommonalty. This general principle links the main practicalexpressions of the drive to equity in our tradition—equality before thelaw; the guarantee of minority rights; and maintenance of equalopportunity. Without equality before the law, commonalty breaksdown and the community shatters between those who bear theburden of onerous laws and those who enjoy exemption. Without theguarantee of minority rights, respect for differences evaporates,suppressed at one or another difficult juncture by a tyrannousmajority. Without efforts to preserve equal opportunity, separations instatus and differences in condition build until neither haves norhave-nots can preserve a pretense to commonalty with theircounterparts. Equity is unity in diversity, e pluribus unum.86¶ What good arises historically when equity pertains? Werehumans and their conditions all identical, equity would simplydescribe a condition, not an achievement, wrought for a purpose. Butpeople all differ, and we can all mutually benefit from our differenceswhen we arrange them well. Civilization, community, and polity allserve to enable people to arrange their differences in constructiveways: equity is the governing principle of these arrangements. Thusthe fruits of equity seem somewhat paradoxical—they arise, not frommaking everyone more alike, but in enabling people to sharemaximum benefit from their differences.87¶ Plato began the Western discussion of justice by recognizing thathuman civilizations were complicated groupings of different people,each with different conditions, interests, and skills. Civilized peoplehad a stake, he observed, in their not being all alike, but in theirbenefiting from their differences through a division of activity, witheach person perfecting special interests and gifts. Justice was apeculiarly civilized problem, a problem of equity, one of harmonizingthe fruitful differences among people so that the variety of capacitiesserved the good of all. The virtue of each deserved nurture andrespect. Equity allows each to realize unique potentials and toparticipate actively in the shared effort of civilization.88¶ A society that does not maintain equity will include many whoaccommodate to misfortune through despair and passivity. They willnot make the most of their possibilities and will drag as a weight onthe resources of the whole. Others will experience their inequitableprivilege as a dimension of their being, something not achieved butgiven in the apparent order of the world. They will fail to nurtureacquired strengths, confusing such accomplishments with gifts ofnature. Increasingly they will enjoy the forms of power, without itssubstance, lordly buffoons. Even between those extremes, wherepeople would seem to enjoy a bracing modesty, they will deflect theirenergies in behaviors of avoidance and emulation, shunning theneedy and aping empty privilege. Thus even the middle class canbecome at once anxious and overreaching.89¶ Equity improves the chances that a people will achieve acollective vigor in the face of history. Rarely does a single group byitself ensure the greatness of the whole. For the quality of life toflourish, a wide range of people must have a sweep of skills, eachexerting effort, doing well what each does best. Equity makes itpossible for each to feel that he can become somebody of worth andthat he can do it best by respecting his condition, skills, and interests,making the most of what these are. Equity makes diversity beneficial.It leavens the energies of a people. Equity energizes: that is itsRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 23. historic value to the conduct of life.90¶ We have been reflecting on what equity, as a condition, does forpeople in history. This question differs from the problem of how apeople can achieve or maintain a condition of equity in their history.What food does for me is not the same as what I do to get food—onehas to do with nutrition, the other economics. How equity benefitscivilization is not the same as how a civilization becomes equitable.Failure to note this distinction often confuses discussions of equity,especially as it relates to excellence.91¶ Historically, where life is equitable, people will display morecultural vigor. People maintain equity through their history, however,by treating it as a difficult balance that they need to maintain andkeep, a dynamic tension between commonalty and difference, unityand plurality, identity and multiplicity. Recognizing this tension,people can then use opportunities for change to move first towardone pole and then toward the other, whichever is deficient, continuallychanneling effort toward the side of the balance that seems theninsufficient. Achieving and maintaining equity is thus like riding abicycle—the rider subtlety steers and sways against the direction offall, turning away from a tumble, crossing the balance point, and thenturning back the other way as the imbalance reverses. Should shelean exclusively to this side or to the other, the rider will flop to theground. The rider keeps the bike upright, continually steering it awayfrom the side to which it is falling, bringing it upright, then starting afall in the other direction, all as a simple expression of her kinestheticsense—she acts and does not find it easy to be consciously articulateabout riding a bike. So too, people maintain equity, moving back andforth between commonalty and difference, as a simple expression oftheir sense of justice, sometimes nurturing distinctions andsometimes leveling differences in ways that they sense to be fit eventhough they may find them hard to plan or explain.92¶ As movement enables the rider to steer the bike against thedirection of fall, so historical development allows people to maintainequity by swaying between commonalty and difference. In a staticsociety, people cannot shift their direction between solidarity andvariation, and an imbalance toward one or the other cannot berighted. Perceiving this link between social rigidity and the loss ofequity, ancient Greek historians argued that a breakdown in equitycaused stasis, the paralysis of a society riven by excessivedifferences. They had cause and effect reversed, and Machiavelli inhis Discourses explained most clearly that the problem really workedthe other way around: when dynamic development petered out,people became frozen in their oppositions, unable to shift againsttheir fall. Then their differences inexorably widened, equity decayed,and the creative components of society turned to internal strife, onewith the other, leaving the culture in a prolonged, irreversibledecadence. In contrast, in a continually developing society, dynamiccircumstances enable groups to change their direction of movementwith respect to difference and commonalty, shifting from leveling todifferentiating and then in time back to leveling and on, thuspermitting the preservation of equity over time.93¶ Expansion, change, dynamism: these enable people to sustainequity over time. One cannot balance the stationary bicycle. In thesame way, a quiescent society, one that lacks historical movement,cannot maintain equity. Thus, looking at what equity does for peoplein history, we have observed that the condition of equity maintains thevigor of a society. But looking at what people must do in history to getand preserve equity, we find that their capacity to change, to develop,to move dynamically in history enables them to approximate andmaintain equity over time by employing their sense of justice to shiftbetween cultivating commonalty and then difference, difference andthen commonalty, thus keeping the dynamic balance, riding theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 24. bicycle of time.94¶ What drives this capacity to develop, to change? What pedals thehistorical bike? Here excellence enters the equations of history.Historic development flows from the ability to break through the moldsof the moment. A person who excels at something penetrates beyondgiven levels of achievement. Historical dynamism arises from thisdrive to excel. Conservative excellence is an oxymoron, and itsproponents confuse real excellence with conventional achievements.In actuality, equity is the much more conservative virtue, for it enableseach, in a fit way, to contribute to the common enterprise. In contrast,excellence does not conserve; it forces change. To excel is to shattermolds, exceed norms, to better the existing standards. An everflowing excellence preserves the dynamism, the historical movement,that permits people to maintain equity. Excellence drives change sothat people can accentuate commonalty when differences begin tobecome extreme and they can nurture differences when commonaltybegins to cloy and suffocate the spirit. Excellence, by breakingbeyond the given, turns the wheels of change.95¶ Many who write in praise of excellence attribute to it the fruits ofequity. Excellence does not necessarily guarantee a high level ofcompetence across all the walks that contribute to the common weal.General levels of competence are the work of equity: with equity,each person feels that she has a fair shake and will, therefore, liveher life, integrally, to the hilt, proud and engaged. To attain a highlevel of general competence, each and all must exert themselves, andequity promotes such universal exertion. Historical change, however,does not come from diffused competence, but from localized,unexpected innovations that alter existing balances between groupsand functions, unexpectedly forcing readjustments among allcomponents of society. These innovations take place when someone,in one or another walk, comes to excel all expectations, to surpassexisting norms and eclipse familiar patterns.96¶ An historic flow of excellence keeps a civilization in dynamicdevelopment, allowing it to maintain equity over time. Thus we cansay that the historical function of excellence is to be the historicalsource of the condition of equity. What, however, is the historicalsource of excellence? If excellence produces equity, what producesexcellence? To a certain extent, excellence is an indelible expressionof the human spirit, what Nietzsche called the will to power, anaspiration to find and fulfill ones possibilities. In this sense,excellence happens anywhere, often under the least propitiouscircumstances. Thus change has eventually, surprisingly, welled upthroughout all societies, even the most static and regressive. Yethowever inexorable, excellence as a driving dynamism has been moreprevalent in some societies than in others and it is for this source ofrelative prevalence that we search.97¶ With respect to the maintenance of equity, significant excellencecan originate from any sector of society. In that sense, excellence isintrinsically egalitarian. What is important in excellence for keepingequity is not that excellence occur regularly at the leading edge,whatever that may be, but that it occur with sufficient dynamism that itforces readjustments among all the parts, allowing them to shiftorientation, like the cyclist, between the poles of equity. Suchexcellence can sometimes occur in a society that arbitrarily channelsall advantage to limited groups, but it does so very rarely as theindelible spirit rises up from within one or another dispossessedgroup. Thus redeeming religions arose from decadent cultures. Butsocieties that provide all their participants with opportunities todevelop, to generate a compelling excellence, will more continuouslyundergo the dynamic readjustment of their parts.98¶ Increasingly in modern societies, people have been using theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 25. intrinsic egalitarianism of excellence to maximize the likelihood of itsoccurrence and to keep social relations in continual movement. Sinceexcellence can occur unexpectedly in any and all walks of life, asociety that approximates equity, and provides all walks with nurturingopportunities, will be the most dynamic, the one continually forced toundergo change and innovation. The frequency with which anenergizing excellence wells up will be improved by ensuring that eachand all have opportunities for self-development. Here is the wager ofparticipatory polities: equity is the historical condition that increasesthe frequency that excellence will emerge in one or another sector,forcing realignment throughout the culture.99¶ Excellence sustains equity; equity occasions excellence.Excellence drives historical development; equity spreads humancompetence. The two together foster progress, an improving qualityof life for a growing number of persons. The great achievement ofmodernity—roughly the half millennium from 1500 to 2000—has beento harness equity and excellence together and to use them totransform both the material and cultural conditions of life, extendingunprecedented opportunities to a multitude of peoples.100¶ During this period, technologies for the mechanical reproductionof information, particularly printing, greatly facilitated efforts topromote both equity and excellence. Printing expanded access to thedefining documents of law and religion. It empowered vernacularcultures to address all the complexities of civilization and it evincedthe creation of a community of scientific discourse. Printing alterednumerous arenas of activity, giving people the opportunity to achieveunprecedented excellences in them. Printing also enhanced equity bynurturing both commonalty and diversity, helping to provide generalaccess to cultural assets and to preserve the distinctive resources ofnumerous groups and specialists. Consciously and unconsciously,people made printing a powerful leaven in modern culture bydiscovering ways to use it as a means promoting both equity andexcellence.101¶ No less needs to be done with the computer as a system. Weare rounding a bend of history that will express our culture in digitalcode. We should do so aware of the importance of equity andexcellence for the enduring quality of historic life. During the rise ofmodernity, education has been a domain that helped to link equityand excellence constructively, making use of the pedagogicalpossibilities of print. The task before us now, as the era of print givesway to that of the computer, is to find ways to renew the pedagogicallink between equity and excellence, which has been strained of late.Educators have a mission to nurture our historic capacity for equityand excellence. To do that, they need to use advanced technologiesto create an education that will be both integral and liberal, bothmeaningful relative to each person and worthy of each personsautonomy.Education, Liberal and Integral102¶ It is one thing to say that education should promote equity andexcellence. It is another to explain what kind of education can best dothat. Links between educational activities and their results, bothbiographical and historical, are not direct. People believe that theextent and quality of education makes a difference in the experienceof individuals and groups, but the results unfold slowly over time andmany other contingencies affect the outcome.103¶ Most tests of educational outcomes cravenly duck this difficulty.Evaluators assume that all results empirically evident at theconclusion of an educational activity will endure, relativelyunchanged, for as long as they may be significant. Thus theymeasure the quality of education by the grades a person earned in asequence of courses and they estimate the quality of schools,Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 26. teachers, and programs by measuring how well children performunder their influence at one or another instant of time. It is atestament to our tolerance for absurdity that the educational researchestablishment allows such a methodology to stand.104¶ Think of investment theories. With respect to education,researchers and the public obsessively look only at the rate of currentreturn. Which method, they ask, yields the highest immediate gain?Economists long ago realized that this was a poor way to ascertainthe value of an investment, for every investment has a useful life,which may be long or short, and a pattern of payoff across that life,which will vary, instance to instance. By measuring only theimmediate current return, investment in growth industries would makelittle sense at their start, for at the start growth industries often losemoney and usually require plowing back whatever profit theygenerate into development and expansion. Often the time to invest ingrowth industries is when they have negative current returns. Ingeneral, if people judged only by current returns, practices ofdeferred gratification would seem merely masochistic, yet these havebeen among the historically most productive economic strategies. Likeeconomic investments, the benefits of education accrue over longperiods and they accumulate in many forms. Our educationalmeasures provide very weak resources for investigating thesecumulative benefits and educators consequently have trouble makinggood sense of the relative value of the various means they mightadopt.105¶ If the computer as a system has fundamental significance ineducation, it will be as a long-term transformative agent. Experimentalmeasures of how effective one technique is relative to another rarelymeasure long-term secular effects, showing how a systemicinnovation, operating from kindergarten through graduate school,performs, across the full span of peoples lives, relative to othersystem options. In education we have not yet invented the techniquesof integration for calculating the full values of the whole education,leaving claims of measured worth partial and deceptive. Hence, littlewill be gained by culling the literature to show that a selectedmethod, used in this subject through that grade, will accelerateperformance by some fractional current return. We should legitimateexperiments in a different way.106¶ Let us try a different method; let us attend to intuitedpreferences, especially to those that recur frequently in different timesand places, trying to reason out why those intuitions may have a vitaltruth to them. Over and over again, people in many times and manysettings have had strong, intuited preferences for and againstparticular types of education. Neither they nor we can rigorouslymeasure out quantitative grounds for these preferences, taking thefull span of education from infancy through maturity into account, butwe can thoughtfully understand them and perhaps see how theyconnect to the imperatives of equity and excellence. Such reasoningmay help us understand how to use digital technologies ashistorically constructive agents in education. Here we will concentrateon two such recurrently intuited preferences, a persistent quest for anintegral education and for a liberal education, which we will see, asour reflections unfold, link pedagogically to the more generalaspirations of equity and excellence.107¶ Commentators often resort to the term "liberal" in discussingeducation. They rarely agree precisely on what it means. I will returnto the topic and give a version of it. But first, let us consider the otherrecurring preference, that for an integral education. Commentatorsrarely use the term "integral" in discussing education. Yet they almostalways agree about the matters that we can describe with this term.An integral education is one that the student integrates and makesher own. Educators analyze the functions that lead to an integralRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 27. education when they study the processes of assimilation and stressthe importance of intellectual synthesis. Likewise, they have oftendecried education that fails to be integral, objecting over and over torote learning, empty mimicry, and taking on airs. If the term is a bitnovel, the phenomenon is not—it simply has not been definitivelynamed in educational discourse.108¶ Education should be integral, it should consist of things that astudent integrates into a set of skills, understandings, preferences,and beliefs that comprise a whole, one that integrally characterizesthe person. A person who has achieved an integral education wouldbe likely to have what psychologists once called "an integratedpersonality," and would be, in an even more traditional terminology, "aperson of integrity." Integral education need not lead to blandsameness in all; rather, as we will see, it should take into account thedifferences that characterize each. Cultures are collective humanworks of such complexity that no person can integrate into hischaracter all that is of value in one of them. Were a culture so simple,or the human character so all encompassing, history would freeze ina repetitive classicism, which is probably why so many primitivecultures persist unchanging. In a single, complex, culture, many,many different integral educations are possible and desirable.109¶ People do not easily achieve an integral education. The world ofeducation has many stock nincompoops—pedants, bores,pettifoggers, humbugs, fakers, dreamers, incompetents, sticklers,marionettes, drones, bombasts, drudges, and charlatans. All exhibit afailure to integrate acquirements fully. In a more positive vein, thegreat studies of education in our tradition have put the problem ofintegral education central. Platos Republic, turns on the question ofhow the person can integrate appetite, emotions, and reason in aharmonious unity in which each part, keeping to its proper business,contributes constructively in coping with the claims of experience.Rousseaus Emile, turns on the issue of how the wise educator canhearken to the unfolding readiness of the maturing child so that herdevelopment is neither forced nor stunted, keeping instead to aregimen of challenges that strengthen her as she rises to each.Deweys Democracy and Education turns on the problem of situatingthe childs growth in his reflective experience, nurturing andsustaining it, from the world of play outwards into that of science,work, social bonding, and politics. Throughout these, and many otherworks of our educational tradition, the pedagogical problem centerson the importance of integrating the particulars of education into anintegral whole for the person and the group.110¶ How does a person integrate cultural acquirements into hischaracter? Consider some hypotheses responsive to this question, aquestion that is far too complicated ever to receive a conclusiveanswer. The generalizations that follow here have their roots, notprimarily in psychology, but in history and other cultural studies,along with simple introspective reflection. We should entertain them,not as claims to achieved knowledge, but as design heuristics thatmay enable us to create more effective modes of practice. Too often,educational researchers adopt methods that exemplify the old saw,"penny wise, pound foolish." Let us reach, as widely as we can, forknowledge tested in the crucible of controlled observation. But when,owing to the complexity of the activities at issue, we cannot subjectthe full spectrum of relevant variables to sound experimental study,let us not truncate our thinking about them to deal only with those fewvariables that we can grasp through controlled observation. Wherethe phenomena are many-sided, as in understanding how a personintegrates cultural acquirements, we should turn to philosophy,anthropology, history, literature, to all the human studies, to advanceour reflections.111¶ In integrating learning, it does not suffice to learn to recognizeRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 28. something or even to repeat it on cue, or to know a lot about it. Aperson who thoroughly assimilates a language may know far lessabout it than someone who has been taught it extensively withoutintegrating it into his living or his work. An integral educationchallenges a student with things that are new to him, but it alsoallows him to select, to incorporate, to synthesize the new into whathe knows, thinks, and believes. Sometimes, something new will notsimply integrate with what came before, but will force him toreintegrate many of his ideas, and he will call that a transformativeeducational experience. Traditionally, formative education, whichaccentuated the ardor of thoroughly assimilating ones learning intoones life and work, often called for long apprenticeships capped withproduction of a difficult, unexpected masterwork.112¶ An integral education will usually be a student-centered, activeeducation. Teachers cannot integrate material for their students. Thisproblem is quite evident for anyone who tries teaching skills thatdepend on a persons kinesthetic senses—just about any sport thatturns on ones sense of balance and coordination. Take, for instance,water-skiing. You can explain to someone what to do over and over.He wont get it until he gets in the water and feels the pull of the boat,the resistance of the water on his skis, and then, quickly orlaboriously as the case may be, he gets the knack of letting complexforces intersect through his legs, arms, and torso. At that point he hasintegrated instruction and experience, using his kinesthetic senses toget up on the skis, and a whole new discourse can start betweenteacher and student, a discourse based on a shared understandingof the essential experience. The same holds for cycling, dance,gymnastics, diving, the use of tools: "let me show you" can at bestinspire the student to trials in which he gets the feel for it himself andthen a new exchange can begin between two people, who both knowhow to do it, in which they exchange the fruits of their complementaryexperiences.113¶ As learning to manage ones body in complex ways requires thatthe student use her kinesthetic senses to integrate precept andexample into her set of abilities, so too does integrating intellectualand emotional acquirements. Here the essential resource is the senseof judgment. Do not understand by "the sense of judgment" a quasilegal process of applying rules to instances, handing down ajudgment about how a rule applies to a case. Rather the sense ofjudgment is a philosophic term for the process by which a personforms likes and dislikes, commitments, and rejections, in the full fluxof experience. The sense of judgment generates selections. It is abiological, characterological, esthetic sensibility, and a teacher mustappeal to a students sense of judgment—her sense of theinterlocked importance and significance of things in the world sheexperiences that she uses to make choices, to allocate attention, todiscern differences, to perceive possibilities, to respect limits, to sensedangers, to define aspirations, to obey precepts, to form intentions, toact for herself in her world. —An educational system that does noteffectively engage and make use of the sense of judgment that itsstudents possess will be futile and dysfunctional.114¶ Educators do not find it easy, however, to work with and throughtheir students sense of judgment. —The system often functions as ifstudents neither can nor should form likes and aversions according totheir inner light, whatever that may be. "Eppur si muove. But still itmoves," Galileo muttered, and so they do. Hence, the ineluctableworking of each students judgment, affirming this and rejecting that,makes it necessary that the design of formal education pay carefulattention to the diversity of cultural and social conditions. Anyone canhave transformative experiences, for better and for worse, and withonly a few constructive (however painful) transformative encounters,the anonymous child of poverty and cultural marginality can rise toRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 29. great achievements. But such metamorphoses will not occur withoutrecognizing the childs sense of judgment as it stands, from thebeginning. Hence, the refined preferences of bourgeois civility cannotbe the presumed sense of judgment in an education for someone forwhom street-smarts are a condition of survival. Instead, the startingpoints for integral education need to be numerous, diverse, andmany-sided.115¶ What are the forms of integration in education? To develop asense of their range, reflect briefly on three ideal-type constructs thatwe can generate intellectually to help organize the wealth ofexperiential particulars—combinatorial integration, self-reflectiveintegration, and transformative integration. The first, integrating thingsby combining them together, seems to start early as the child drawsconnections wonderingly between different elements of experience.Combinatorial integration is relatively uncritical. It motivates all thosechildish questions—what? how? why? where? when? The integrationhappens by a kind of passive proximity—things need to stand justbeyond the perimeter of the persons understanding so that he canencounter them and spontaneously make a connection between whathe knows and these new matters. If he simply stays within his web ofexisting connections, no new combinations form, and if something istoo distant from his current stock of integrated information and ideas,he will just let it pass without forming a lasting anchor in his realm ofattention. Although it is most common in childhood, combinatorialintegration continues through life and it is the normal way peopleincorporate new impressions and form new skills. Daily attention tothe news probably has the function of exercising and keeping currenta persons combinatorial integration of experience.116¶ Self-reflective integration involves bringing to consciousness theunifying interests and capacities that constitute an assertion of uniquepersonhood. Often, this form of integration seems to start inadolescence and to carry through early adulthood with the formationof a conscious vocation. For self-reflective integration to occur, aperson needs a sense of multiple options. She exercises a projectiveimagination, seeing different possibilities unfolding in the foreseeablefuture. She discovers that her interests are many-sided and cannot allbe reconciled together by simple combinatorial judgments. Choicebecomes necessary, and with it arises the need for criteria andprinciples, a conscious sense of self, goals, purposes, tastes, andvalues. She must form these for herself and in modern Westerncultures, at any rate, often she rails at the bland assumption of herelders that of course she will simply take on all the norms andexpectations that they model for her. Yet forced into self-reliance inthis self-reflective integration, she feels that the stakes arehigh—while rebelling against presumptive models, she looks aboutfor inspiration and encouragement, and step-by-step she forms hercontrolling sense of self.117¶ Transformative integration shatters a persons established senseof self and recombines the parts in a new combination and purposefulorientation. Such a reintegration can occur at any time of life, usuallythrough powerful experiences not under the persons control—atrauma, disease, or upheaval in circumstances. Some significantchallenge upsets a persons existing order of ideas, skills, andconvictions, and he must reintegrate them in order to cope with thenew circumstances. Sometimes in the course of formal education,one encounters a new perspective on things or new ideas or data thatundercut the existing integration of a subject, forcing one to rethink itall. Increasingly, as the normal life span lengthens and people seekto maintain a sense of vital engagement with their circumstances,they subject themselves to transformative challenges, consciouslythrough career changes and unconsciously through mid-life crises.118¶ An integral education will help the person use her judgment toRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 30. mobilize the fullest range of knowledge and skills in defining andpursuing the vital itinerary of her life. Insofar as her education is notintegral, it will consist of acquirements of no vital import for her, ofskills that will decay unused, of things learned but soon forgotten, ofmasks and routines performed with hidden resentment to please thepowers-that-be. Through an integral education, a student takesresponsibility for being whom she is, for both those things sherecognizes as fruits of her conscious will and for those things sheknows to have been accidents, whether negative or positive, thatbefell her arbitrarily, yet befell her, and not someone else, some otheronto whom she can pass responsibility.119¶ Integral education involves not a sovereign, all-powerful self, butthe ever-varied particularities of personhood. As we shall see, eachpersons achieving an integral education is a key to promoting equityin our culture, But for now, simply let Michel de Montaigne sum upthe ideal of integration in education—"Bees pillage the flowers hereand there, but they then make honey of them which is all their own; itis no longer thyme and marjoram; so the fragments borrowed fromothers [the student] will transform and blend together to make a workthat shall be absolutely his own; that is to say, his judgment. Hiseducation, labor, and study aim only at forming that."120¶ As Montaigne perceived, through an integral education astudent forms her judgment. In this sense, an integral education isclosely allied to that other recurrent educational preference, namelyfor a liberal education. Let us reflect on the preference for a liberaleducation and then return to see how integral education and liberaleducation together help nurture equity and excellence in historicalexperience.121¶ One can find numerous different descriptions of liberaleducation. In part, this multiplicity of visions has arisen becausecommentators treat the term "liberal," not as an adjective, but as partof the noun phrase, "a liberal education." They busily describe thedistinctive features of a liberal education and they of course differabout what these are. Let us ask instead, why did people startqualifying education with the adjective "liberal?" They started usingthis adjective because it meant "appropriate for a free person." Theydid not mean by this that a certain kind of education would takeslavish youths and magically make them free. The autonomy of theperson was not the result of the education; the autonomy was thecondition occasioning it. Some people were free, as distinct fromdependent, and free persons would find a certain type of educationparticularly appropriate for themselves, which came to be called aliberal education—an education worthy of the autonomous,self-directing, responsible person.122¶ No studies mysteriously made people free; no subject had aliberating potency. The autonomy of the student, his moral freedomand responsibility, was not the consequence but the condition of aliberal education. Only on recognizing the students inalienableautonomy did the choice of subjects traditionally represented by theliberal arts make sense. An unfree person lived and worked, boundby a determining status that laid down what skills and knowledge theperson would need in order to function effectively within his allottedstation. For the unfree, efficient education would impart thosepredetermined acquirements and nothing else. For the free person,the self-determining person, the problem of education was morecomplicated. What skills and knowledge the free person would needin the course of his autonomous conduct in the community could notbe fully predetermined. Hence, an education worthy of a free personwas one that would enable him to learn whatever skills andknowledge he needed as he conducted himself in open-endedself-governance. In order to do that without incurring a crucialdependence, exactly when autonomy was at stake, he needed to beRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 31. able to learn his ever-changing skills and knowledge withoutdependence on paternalistic teachers and other authorities.Consequently the liberal arts were those disciplines the mastery ofwhich would enable the free person to grasp any further concept orcapacity as the need arose without dependence on teachers.123¶ Note the phrasing, "without dependence on teachers." Thisstricture does not suggest that the free person will be withoutteachers. Quite the contrary, the free person will be autonomous withrespect to them, taking responsibility for attending to this one andignoring that one, able to judge the worth of their teaching for herself.What does a youth, aware of her autonomy, want as preparation?She sees life as a continual development throughout which she willalways be responsible to herself and others for certain particulars.Owing to these responsibilities, she seeks competence; but having akeen sense of her ever-changing possibilities, she cannot sayhonestly exactly what competencies she will desire as she unfoldsher life, and she is loath to let her pursuit of competence hamper herprospective development. Consequently, she seeks an openpreparation that will enable her, in the all-important school of life, tomove forward independently into whatever matter she feels drawn.Hence, neither an introduction to the great books nor the beginning ofa specialty, the liberal studies were simply a rigorous discipline in theintellectual tools with which one could gain access to any particularmatter. Such access might involve intense engagement withteachers—be they persons, books, or situations. Having had aneducation worthy of a free person, she would proceed through thoseengagements without becoming dependent upon them.124¶ In ancient times this discipline in the tools of study camethrough grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy,and music. But these subjects were not the crux, making theeducation in them liberal. They empowered people to conductthemselves later in life in ways befitting their freedom. Hence, ancientcommentators like Seneca derided people who took pride in beingoccupied with the liberal studies; he held that one should workinstead to be done with them, for no good came of them themselves;rather, they served simply as a preparation for the truly serious matterof self-formation. Can someone, after a suitable preparatory disciplineand engagement, acquire new knowledge, skills, and understandingson their own without dependence on teachers and formal instruction?If one can answer in the affirmative, that person has a liberaleducation, an education worthy of an autonomous person, one whocan proceed to acquire needed knowledge without reliance on others.125¶ With the liberal assumption of the students autonomy, theteacher accepted an important but highly circumscribed function: theself-effacing work of making himself unnecessary. Most pre-modernpedagogy is incomprehensible without realizing that its aim was not tomake the teacher more effective, but to make him progressively lessimportant. Traditionally, teachers had the self abnegatingresponsibility to make their assistance unnecessary by helpingstudents build up their capacities to learn on their own. This is a goalcommon to most professions. The doctor who healed in such a waythat he promoted the permanent dependency of his patient on hisprescriptions would be called a pusher, not a physician. The healingarts aim to bring the patient to full strength and vigor, where she is nolonger dependent on medical care. So too, the teacher should buildup a students capacity to learn on her own, independent of theteachers care.126¶ Traditionally, this effort to educate to independence was acontrolling goal of educational practice. Formal pedagogy was to helpthe student arrive as quickly as possible at a point at which he nolonger needed instruction in order to continue developing apace. Forinstance, the medieval scholastic, John of Salisbury, observed, whenRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 32. asked why some arts were called liberal, that "those to whom thesystem of the Trivium have unveiled the significance of all words, orthe rules of the Quadrivium have unveiled the secrets of nature, donot need the help of a teacher in order to understand the meaning ofbooks and to find the solutions of questions." This same desire to endones dependence on ones teachers was implicit in the way theRenaissance educator, Batista Guarino, recommended his course ofstudies: "a master who should carry his scholars through thecurriculum which I have now laid down may have confidence that hehas given them a training which will enable them, not only to carryforward their own reading without assistance, but also to actefficiently as teachers in their turn."127¶ Consider again the question of equity and excellence. We canhypothesize that a liberal education, the capacity to acquire furthermastery independently, helps a person to achieve excellence. Toexcel is to transcend the limits of attained achievement, to passprecisely into those regions where teachers cannot lead. Excellenceis a free assertion, a gratuitous quality, something achieved but notmechanistically caused. An education worthy of free persons enablesa person to excel, not because it makes her excellent, but because ithelps her make herself excel. Educators cannot guarantee thatsomeone in their tutelage will come to excel in a particular walk of life.Such eventualities are beyond the educators reach and depend onthe students ability to sustain her drive later into the realm ofunprecedented achievement. What the educator can do is help thestudent develop abilities to learn self-sufficiently whatever she laterfeels she needs. Having become able to learn what she will, withoutdependence on help from others, the person pursuing excellence canbetter navigate the realm where she is setting new standards. As aneducation that enables a person to learn ever more withoutdependence on teachers and authorities, a liberal education supportspeople in their drive to excel.128¶ In a similar way, we can hypothesize that an integral educationsupports the quest for equity. Equity in education entails in large part,that each person, despite differing from others, should attain anintegral education. The problem with equity is to respect differenceswhile maintaining commonalty. This problem of equity is most acute,not with respect to "other people," but with respect to "each person."How can one, regardless of ones race, religion, creed, condition, andcountry of origin, come to respect ones own identifying differenceswhile affirming ones solidarity with all others, recognizing each in histurn as equally unique yet essential to the whole? Through anintegral education, a person integrates his acquirements, takingpossession of them as his defining qualities within the wholecommunity. If all can achieve an integral education, the grounds ofequity will be secure.129¶ Unfortunately, the balance between difference and commonaltyis hard to keep in education, particularly when we attend to theeducation that each person experiences. Education too oftensuppresses differences and promotes a superficial sameness,something different from genuine commonalty and something thatimpedes the attainment of an integral education. Diversity is not asign that education has faltered, however; diversity is the culturalgenius of the human species. If people were all exactly alike,educators could offer the same education to all, expecting each tointegrate it equally well. But people are different. If they get identicaleducations, some will find it much more difficult to integrate what is inthem. What "each person" learns at that point, when she encountersthe common pedagogical program from the specific ground of herunique cultural heritage, can strain equity severely. Then the commonprogram savagely insinuates its biases: "they are advantaged andyou are impaired; dont ever forget it." Recognition of such adversityRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 33. may goad a few to redouble their efforts, but it prompts many towithdraw.130¶ Educators have long understood this problem and have longthought it important to individualize instruction so that differentstudents all have relatively equal opportunities to achieve an integraleducation. To do so is not easy. Consider for instance the problem ofteaching reading in an inner city barrio. Many children will havedifficulty integrating this skill into their daily lives. Those around themwill not spend much time reading, and reading materials will not becasually at hand. If they are, they may be in a language different fromthat of the school. Thus it will be more difficult for such a child tointegrate reading skills into his sense of what is important. And thedifficulty then gets doubled—the content of formal instruction oftenthen turns out to have less objective value for the child of the barriothan it might for someone else, or it may powerfully appear to be ofless objective worth. Under such circumstances, a student will find itboth harder to integrate the skill into his set of acquirements and thenharder to integrate that set of acquirements into a sustained set ofaccomplishments. This is not to say that reading is unimportant forthe children of the barrio; rather it is to observe that equitable accessto integral education is not easily attained.131¶ If the education of each is integral, consisting of challenges thatpush each to realize his full potentials, delivered in such a way thathe has been able to integrate all the resulting acquirements into astable, unified, self-directing sense of purpose, then equity will havebeen pedagogically furthered. If that education is also liberal,culminating in a set of capacities that enable each to learn thereafterwhatever skills and ideas he may need, without reliance of thefortuitous availability of suitable teachers, then the conditions forexcellence will have been educationally maximized. Can the computeras a system extend the opportunity of each person to acquire aneducation that is both integral and liberal? If we can answer thisquestion in the affirmative, we can be confident that the digitization ofour culture will enhance the educators mission.Chapter Four - The Span of Pedagogical Possibility132¶ "No one yet had printed books, the preceptor alone had aprinted Terence. What one read must first be dictated, then defined,then construed, and then only could he explain it...." Thus a Swisseducational reformer, Thomas Platter, recalled his experience in aschool around 1515. Through a long life as printed books becamecommon resources for preceptors and pupils, Platters owneducational experience showed how the spans of pedagogicalpossibility can change.133¶ Platters family were peasants from a small village, high in theSwiss Alps. His father died when Thomas was two. At five, Thomasstarted the school of life, herding goats in the mountains, and byeight, accidents had nearly killed him several times. By luck andquirk, his guardians decided that he would do better to take a longshot and try to gain learning and become a priest.134¶ Essentially two ways then led to this goal, one religious and theother secular, and Thomas tried both. For the religious, he had abrief, disastrous stint at a nearby song-school, a place where a priesttrained boys to sing the liturgy and chant the mass, but not to read orto write. If this went well, it might have led to a cathedral or monasticschool, but in Thomass case the song-school went badly—the priesthad frequent bouts of drunken rage, and suffering from child abuse,Thomas withdrew. Then his elders tried the secular route, sendingThomas on the road. They put him, about nine, in the service of adistant cousin, a youth of about sixteen, who was a wanderingscholar, a bacchante, going from town to town in middle Europe insearch of the elements of learning. As was the custom, ThomasRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 34. supported the pair, begging for their bed and board, sometimesstealing, rarely studying. After nine years tramping hither and yonacross middle Europe, stopping at many schools for short or long,depending on the quality of the begging, Thomas finally settled inZurich, an unkempt eighteen-year-old, still seeking the rudiments ofLatin.135¶ Such was the typical saga of a poor student prior to the era ofthe printed textbook. The whole system was part of a barter economy:if the schools were good, word got around and too many studentswould gather, making the begging miserable, and if the schools werebad there would be few students and good begging, leaving learningproblematic. When it went well, the idea was to learn how, usingLatin, to transcribe spoken text accurately in writing. The basicpedagogy, elementary and advanced, worked like dictation exercisesin a foreign language sometimes still do: a teacher would read apassage aloud and students would try to write it on wax tablets andthen the teacher or assistants would correct the transcriptions witheach student, explaining their errors of grammar, spelling, and thelike. Advanced instruction consisted largely of public readings ofimportant texts, which students who had become skilled intranscription could take down for further study, provided they had themeans to buy ink and parchment. Thomas Platter did not make it tothis level by these means, however.136¶ Until his return to Zurich, Thomas had participated in thepre-modern world of education. Prior to about 1500, educators had toassume that students did not possess a text pertaining to the subjectat hand. Since mastery of key texts by priests and scribes wasnevertheless culturally important, the basic technical rationale ofpre-modern schooling was to find a way to enable a student to makethe texts he needed. Thus much of instruction, regardless of level,consisted in dictation, reading a text aloud so that students couldwrite it down, making at least a rough copy of it for themselves. Thetask of the teacher was to correct the students efforts at transcription,ensuring that the sense said had been accurately written. Only verylate in a students educational experience did attention turn toquestions of the meaning of the material.137¶ In pre-modern education, where the student did not possess thetext, learning to read and write, especially in the languages ofscholarship, was a big hurdle. How do you enable someone whoneither reads nor writes to make the elementary texts and grammarswith which he can then learn to read and write? And all this had to bedone, not in the mother tongue, but in Latin, the special language ofreligion and scholarship. Thomas never solved that problem. InZurich, just on the eve of the Protestant reformation, Thomasencountered a teacher who simply provided him with printed copies ofthe texts. The problem of education ceased to be one of learning towrite down the spoken text and became one of learning to read theprinted text.138¶ Thomass studies then prospered, although they carried himnaturally into the Protestant camp and to his familys consternation hetook vows of marriage, not the priesthood. He moved to Basel andbecame a skilled artisan, printer, real estate entrepreneur, and finallya respected, influential schoolmaster. His school was not forwandering scholars, but for the children of the town burghers,securely part of a growing money economy. He negotiated with thecity fathers a substantial salary for himself and decent pay for hisassistants, one for each class. His students learned from printedtextbooks and they moved, in age cohorts, through a gradedcurriculum. It began by inculcating the skills of reading good Latin,and it ended with the substantive interpretation of significant Latinworks and study of elementary Greek. It was a typical, early-modernGymnasium, designed to take advantage of printed texts.Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 35. The School and the Printed Book139¶ Platters life spanned a period of great educational innovation.He and other reformers worked out the basic technology of modernschooling. The most influential among them—Erasmus, Luther,Melancthon, Sir Thomas Elyot, Comenius, and more—were greattextbook pioneers and prophets of the importance of reflective readingas a source of knowledge and conviction. Others, scarcely lessinfluential—Loyola, Sturm, Ramus, Ascham, Mulcaster, Rathke, andmany more—worked out the design of the print-based school,developing strategies of competitive motivation, age groupingcorrelated to curricular sequence, manageable divisions of subjectmatter, and standards for the training and selection of teachers.Between 1500 and 1650, the key features in the technology ofmodern schooling were invented and implemented.140¶ Since the start of this technology of schooling, it has developedinto an extraordinarily successful system. Contemplate the very bigpicture—the world-wide system of schooling that now exists. In the1985-86 school year, over half a billion children, world-wide, attendedprimary schools, over a quarter billion went to secondary schools, andnearly sixty million pursued higher education. Humanity spent morethan three-quarters of a trillion dollars that year to school its young,an annual amount that has risen to over a trillion by the inertia ofinflation alone. Nearly all that effort conforms broadly to the plan ofPlatter and his peers.141¶ At the few outermost reaches of this system, we would find ithard to recognize the schools as such, textbooks being very scarceand the principle of age-grouping hard to apply. But throughoutalmost all its world-wide scope, across great differences of nationalculture, wealth, and political ideology, the schools employ aremarkably common set of fundamental strategies. School systemsgroup children primarily by age, secondarily by ability; they divide thecurriculum into subjects, package these into annual installments, andmap them onto the sequence of grades, a kind of educational ladderthat children climb up as they mature from 5 or 6 to 17 or 18. Thewhole effort inducts the young, to varying degrees of mastery, into theresources of the printed culture. All of us have been through it.142¶ People like Platter invented this system in the sixteenth century.His childhood education would be very strange to most anyonebrought up in the twentieth century. But his school in Basel would be,discounting the choice of subjects, quite familiar. The educationaltechnology of schooling derived from the sixteenth century. In thissense, the strategies of schooling are one of the most mature, fullydeveloped of modern institutions, having evolved over a longer periodthan the other institutions of industrial democracy. To somecommentators, the system of schooling superficially seems newerthan it is, for the print-based schools have proliferated remarkablyduring the last hundred years. But significant changes in the designof these schools did not cause their recent proliferation.Transformations in the social context did, enabling societies toimplement the visions of universal, compulsory schooling originatedby sixteenth century reformers. Let us reflect briefly on these recentdevelopments so that we can see clearly how old the establishedtechnology of schooling is.143¶ Although the print-based schools developed in the sixteenthcentury, powerful limitations restricted the spread of them until theapproach of the twentieth. From the start, these schools were abourgeois institution, in the original sense of the term—inhabiting thetowns, the burgs. Early-modern schools like Platters served primarilythe children of the towns, and secondarily the children of the elites, insurrogate towns, in the form of boarding institutions. From roughly1500 to 1850, two limitations effectively restricted the school to theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 36. towns, and those limitations both changed significantly in the latenineteenth century, making the recent spread of schools to allsegments of the population in almost all parts of the world bothpossible and necessary.144¶ First, the demographic profile of the over-all population inWestern societies, and elsewhere even now, limited the spread ofschools. Traditionally, populations had large numbers of children andrelatively few adults, a demographic condition that put a premium onapprenticeship and other education strategies that made childreneconomically productive at very early ages. In order to extendschooling to all, not only would children have to stay out of the workforce, weakening the productive capacity, but so too, a very largepercentage of the adults would need to withdraw from primaryproduction to become teachers. If, for every hundred people, fifty arechildren and fifty are adults, recruiting sufficient teachers to educateall through schools would be a greater burden on primary productionthat it would be were there only twenty children and eighty adults.Until recently, only the bourgeois groups in towns could afford andprofit from the systematic use of schooling, for they early ondeveloped the demographic strategy of limiting family size, keepingthe number of adults relative to the number of children high. Theindustrial revolution generalized middle class urban demographicsand made their schools a more feasible institution for all.145¶ Second, part and parcel with the demographic changes, duringthe past hundred years transportation changes greatly widenedfeasible access to the schools. The general movement of populationfrom rural to urban areas helped provide concentrations of asufficiently large number of families in a small enough area to supportnearby schools, but areas of relatively sparse population densityremain and here good transportation has been essential to makeschooling effectively available. Even outside of rural areas, as manytowns grew into cities and many villages into towns, children neededtransportation to and from schools. As a result, mass transit, theprivate car, and school bus systems have had more to do,technologically, with the recent spread of schooling than innovation inpedagogical design or classroom practice. The key pedagogicalinnovations, the basic instructional design of the modern school,derived from the sixteenth century as educators realized that theirstudents would be able to work from a printed text, whatever thesubject, whatever the level.146¶ Printing gave rise to the technical strategy employed in modernschools: to use inexpensive printed texts as effectively as possible asa foundation for educational efforts, redefining the task of education.Formerly the task was to prepare scribes to write text accurately asthey heard it spoken or read aloud. In modern schools, the task wasto enable a wider group to acquire knowledge and skill by readingprinted texts on a wide range of subjects. This task defines thetechnical strategy of modern schools, which have developed andmatured over the past five hundred years, as educators have usedthe printing press, with the textbook performing a key function in theoperation of the whole. The main features of the world-wide system ofschooling arise from the way printed materials have determined theeducational provisions designed to employ them.147¶ To grasp this point, we might more fully trace out historically theway printing conditioned the invention of the modern school. Instead,for the sake of brevity, consider simply, as a thought experiment, howthe physical attributes of books necessarily influence the wayeducators organize schools, particularly where the controllingintention will be to have students master broad substantivecomponents of the culture. Think simply of books as objects that havea physical reality in contexts of use. It takes a year or so for an adeptauthor to compose a book of ordinary scale and several periods ofRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 37. sustained concentration for a proficient reader to absorb it. Novicereaders will need help in absorbing the books they encounter and thefunction of the print-based school will be to provide students withbooks and to help them master the printed contents. Certaincontrolling limits and determinations immediately begin to arise.148¶ Roughly speaking, a competent, disciplined youth, age say offourteen, can master the contents of five densely printed books, eachsay 750 pages, eight by ten inches, weighing three to four pounds, byconcentrating on them for the better part of the day over the betterpart of a year, with effective help from others to clarify difficulties andto maintain the regimen. Fifteen to twenty pounds of books is a heavyload for this student, literally and figuratively. To expect a fourteenyear-old to handle a heavier load would be unrealistic and foryounger students the load would of necessity be lighter. Let usexempt the first five grades from our calculations, for the problemthere is less learning from the printed culture than getting ready to doso. Assume that starting at age eleven students can work with fifteenpounds of books per year, five substantial volumes, doing so untilthey graduate seven years later. Under these assumptions, theintellectual content of schooling would need to fit into about 120pounds of books, or roughly thirty-five volumes.149¶ These material conditions bring many more characteristics andlimitations with them. We have implicitly determined a sequentialprogression year by year, with the volumes for the child of elevenbeing set aside in favor of new ones when the child becomes twelve.But mastering all thirty-five volumes will take place over seven years.Can that be one straight march down the shelf of books or does someredundancy need to be included in the volumes? As there have to begradations in weight, so there have to be gradations in difficulty andsome cycling over the years through the full scope of studies willneed to occur. Consequently, the scope of the material included inthe set of volumes needs to be deflated by a redundancy factor. I donot know precisely what this factor typically is, but guessing low Iwould put it at one-seventh, meaning that our thirty-five volumesreally contain only thirty volumes of discrete material.150¶ Should a student devote herself to one volume only during anyparticular day, making as much headway in it as she can, or shouldshe work during the day from several volumes, each in turn, for anallotted period? Quite early in the development of schooling, commonsense or experience definitively answered: during the day the studentshould attend successively to several different texts. But that raisesthe question of how the contents of these several volumes should beorganized. What separates one volume from another? This questionleads to ever increasing divisions of intellectual culture into distinctsubject matters. Periods and days are the material realities of schooltime—subjects and lessons are the induced units for presenting theculture through print within the constraints of those divisions of time.151¶ Should students work in unison, each fitting the same lessoninto the same time, or should they work along divergent paths—Juliadoing her Latin volume while Henri does his algebra and Simon hisgeography? Were the latter course taken, the teacher would becontinually juggling back and forth from one volume to another,workable perhaps with three tutees, but not a room of twenty-fivepupils. Educators quickly developed the practice of having groups ofstudents work in unison, all from the same volume. Recitation fromthe text entailed grouping students to work, not only from the sametext, but also at roughly the same pace, which meant getting studentstogether according to similarities of chronological and intellectualdevelopment. When people find themselves together, each doing thesame task at the same time as the others nearby, comparisons ofeach to the others come naturally, and with that a kind of competitionto perform the prescribed duties spontaneously arises, and policyRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 38. quickly capitalizes on it. Such comparative performances become thenatural measures of achievement, rather than the teacher noticinghow well Julia, setting her Latin aside for a moment, could help Henriget through the difficulties he encounters with his algebra.152¶ Should the thirty volumes that are roughly the maximum thatany student can master through the print-based school be the samethirty volumes for all, or should each master a unique selection ofthirty volumes? For a variety of reasons the system tends to have allstudents study the same set of materials. In part, economies of scalein publishing favor this solution and it greatly simplifies the logistics ofthe school. In part, it results from the decision to have all the studentsin a classroom working largely in unison. It helps to make units ofpedagogical time and effort interchangeable from one class toanother and from one school to another. The practice leads toimportant cultural distortions, however. It amplifies the culturalsalience of the things included in the volumes that all will study, andit puts the many things left out in a kind of cultural deficit.153¶ Rather than continue this thought experiment to show in moreand more detail how the material constraints of printed books shapethe features of the world-wide system of schooling, let us summarizethe essential point. Many critics complain that textbooks are toocentral in the process of schooling. —Their complaints miss the mark.Schools as they exist were invented to take advantage of thepossibility, arising with the spread of printing, that both students andteachers could always have an appropriate text for any educationalencounter. The centrality of the text determines the entire design ofthe system. Schools designed to use printed texts systematically havebeen an immensely productive development in the history ofeducation. These achievements have been justly celebrated. Let us,without denigrating those achievements, try to fathom further thelimiting constraints on educational achievement inherent in thisprint-based system.Implementation Constraints of Print154¶ Big-time basketball players must stoop to go through mostdoors. Left-handed people find it hard to crank can openers or pencilsharpeners, which usually convenience right-handed people. Thewidth and number of the road lanes and the average size of carsdefine thresholds for traffic density above which drivers will slow upsignificantly, causing delays and jams. All such problems exemplifyimplementation constraints, limitations of effectiveness and the easeof use that arise from choices that must be made in order toimplement a technical system.155¶ Any technical system imposes implementation constraints onthe functions it helps perform. When a new technical systemdisplaces an old one, it does not necessarily bring with it the sameset of implementation constraints as the old had. In the days ofhorse-drawn transport, towns needed to be close together, no morethan twenty miles or so apart, and limitations on manure disposal,along with plodding speeds, would keep contiguous urbanconcentration from becoming very great. Trains and cars changedthose constraints, reducing the need for provincial towns andfacilitating the concentration of population in metropolitan centers andassociated suburbs. Big cities got bigger and small towns smallerbecause the implementation constraints of the old transportationsystem were not carried over into the new.156¶ Implementation constraints are features built into a system inorder to make it work effectively. These features do not reflectcharacteristics that are necessarily desirable, in and of themselves,nor are they always disadvantageous. They are tolerable componentsof a workable solution, enabling people to make good use of thefeasible technology, but in doing that they also set limits on theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 39. performance of the system. Significant implementation constraintscan last, unchallenged, for centuries over great areas, and thensuddenly disappear when new technologies free from thoseconstraints displace the old.157¶ Consider, for instance, architecture. Until recently, in everyculture in every part of the world, implementation constraints made itvery rare to build a structure more than five stories high. Occasionallythat would be done for reasons of monumental ceremony as withvarious pyramids, or of communicational reach when the muezzincalls people to prayer from the minaret or the cathedral bells tollacross the town from high in the belfry. With pre-mechanicalarchitecture, implementation constraints almost always worked tokeep buildings low: tall structures were expensive to build and peoplefound them a chore to use, having to run up and down many flightsof stairs. Hence it was a natural practice to limit ordinary buildings toa height of five floors or less. In the late nineteenth century, theimplementation constraints limiting the height of buildings vanishedas new materials, new principles of design, and new resources suchas elevators, electric lighting, and central heating and ventilation, allmade structures built to an unprecedented scale rapidly feasible.Now in urban areas round the world buildings scaled to the oldconstraints are exceptions to a completely different rule.158¶ In retrospect, it is usually easy to see implementationconstraints for what they are, limiting characteristics of dominanttechnologies. But from within, while a dominant technology is stillhegemonic, it is often difficult to see its implementation constraints assuch. Instead, they can appear to be part of the natural order,artifacts, not of the technology, but of the natural laws and necessaryconditions on which the technology rests. Thus, it was animplementation constraint of human transportation that no onetraveled much faster than the speed of a galloping horse until theearly 1800s. When trains started to puff along at speeds that lefthorses wheezing behind, commentators argued that theunprecedented speed was unnatural and dangerous to the humanswho subjected themselves to it, not because the train might crash,but because the speed itself menaced the human constitution. Fromthe perspective of the experience then available, evidence derivedfrom the effects of tornadoes and hurricanes seemed to make thewarnings plausible. Of course, there proved to be easy ways to shieldriders from the winds of speed and the argument that speed itselfwas harmful proved absurdly false. Yet it illustrates how difficult it canbe, from within a technical hegemony, to see its implementationconstraints for what they are, mere accidents.159¶ In an educational system designed to take advantage of printedresources, implementation constraints make educational experiencesimultaneously fragmented and limited. These implementationconstraints will seem to many to be natural necessities, but they arenot. Schooling becomes a scattered intellectual experience becauseof the way the culture must be fragmented into many subjects, withthese sequenced for study year by year, in order to implement theuse of textbooks in education. It becomes limited because the totalselection of the culture that can be included in the official texts is veryrestricted. Thirty volumes is not much relative to the total range ofpossibilities. These implementation constraints have dire effects onthe nature of curriculum politics and they confront many students withvery difficult tasks of integration. They make educational effort lessliberal and less integral than it could be.160¶ Through an integral education, a student forms her judgment byintegrating her engagement with the culture, forming convictions,preferences, valuations, explanations, understandings that she usesto define herself and her world. To achieve an integral education, astudent should construct connections, but our system of schoolingRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 40. produces partitions. As we have seen, to use textbooks, an annualpackaging of separate subjects is a necessity. Occasionally studentsin a subject will spend two or more years on a single text; sometimesthey study several shorter texts in one subject in one year. But thenorm is one text per subject per year, and this norm exists, forreasons of neither developmental psychology nor cultural coherence.It exists to make textbooks usable.161¶ Imagine students having at hand one gigantic, comprehensiveset of texts, covering all subjects from kindergarten through highschool, The Complete Compendium: Everything You Can and ShouldLearn In School. No student could handle the whole set, day by day,and its volumes would not fit in his desk or locker. The materialconstraints of using books requires segmenting the studentsintellectual experience into annual increments. As a result, at best,the student passes through the curriculum, visiting each unitproductively in turn. He cannot easily go back to material he studied acouple years before but did not quite get down pat, and he cannoteasily reach forward in the sequence, suddenly alert to somethingslated for use two years hence. Educators often complain of thistendency to lockstep progression, but it is hard to avoid at least inpart because it is rooted in the material constraints of texts.162¶ A complex culture can sustain innumerable paths of inquiry inand through it, each with its logic and integrity, where one thing leadsto another because a specific rejoinder to a students particularquestion leads to further wondering, and then to ensuing responses,new doubts, more solutions, and so on. Individualized learningdevelops from the inside out in this way, as a student integratesresponses to her questions into an understanding that sherecognizes to be her own, full responsibility for which she asserts.Historically, the way printing amplified the availability of different texts,enhancing too their quality and dependability, greatly accelerated theindividuation of learning, enabling inquiring minds to follow powerfulquestions to productive answers to a degree that human culturesnever approached before. But this great advance had limits, and wecan now feel these chafing our pedagogical aspirations. The veryaccomplishments of the book lead us to want to go beyond the spanof pedagogical possibility inherent in it.163¶ Individualized learning is a long sought, imperfectly achieved,educational ideal. The sequence of annual curricular incrementsgreatly complicates the individualization of learning, for it imposes oneveryone a single, arbitrary, over-all order. Jenny is fourteen, enteringninth grade, and she will therefore start algebra, do biology, and learnabout the Greeks and Romans, because those are things her schoolcovers in the ninth grade. If she does biology this year, it will bechemistry or physics next, not the other way around. Are biology,chemistry, and physics really separate subjects? Well, yes and no.There are surely separate textbooks for each, and universitiesorganize specialists in each in separate departments. They work indifferent labs and use different instruments, and they read differentjournals and attend different conventions. But the practicing biologistwill draw continually on knowledge of chemistry and physics and it ishard, given any real question within a discipline, to confine thediscourse pertinent to it strictly within the bounds of that disciplinealone. At the least, it would be helpful to do biology with thechemistry and physics texts close at hand, along with the one forbiology, and much else as well. That rarely happens for the ordinarystudent.164¶ Thus textbooks reinforce tendencies to fragmentation in theintellectual experience of the culture—this today, that tomorrow. Topackage the culture for presentation through texts, we cut the life ofthe mind into pieces, put defining covers around each, and dole themout one by one. This piecemeal pedagogy makes it hard for a studentRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 41. to integrate her studies. The day is riven into periods: the bell ringsfor English, fifty minutes for As You Like It, whether or not you do,then the bell again, signaling the sudden end of English and theabrupt start of Math. Such a way of organizing work objectifiesarbitrary distinctions and makes it hard for a student to take fullpossession of her learning. It is a tribute to the formative, integratingpowers of the human mind that schooling leads as often as it does,despite its false segmentations, to well integrated achievements by itsstudents.165¶ In addition to systematically dissipating a students intellectualfocus, the implementation constraints of printed texts put severe limitson a students curiosity and concern. This weakens the studentsintegrative capacities. Only a small part of any subject can beincluded in the text. —What is not included does not count, eventhough it might break Billys boredom. As they move beyond the firstfew years and become acculturated to competing for grades,students themselves often collaborate in their boredom, for they knowthe system in which they labor. When an enterprising teacherintroduces an unexpected and provoking topic, one that they senseprobably is not included in the official epitome on which they will beexamined, the murmur rises—"Gee, this is kinda interesting, but arewe responsible for it?" The retort should resound—"Yes! Youreresponsible for this and the whole of your lives and your world, foreverything, and you must judge what things you encounter will proveof worth to you in it." Instead, the honest teacher, also knowing thesystem, answers with a apologetic nay—"Well, no, but I thought itmight interest some . . . ."166¶ Bored students do not integrate their learning well. They insteadmiss the point and soon forget whatever they sponged up because itwould shortly be required of them. The world system of schooling haseverywhere a curriculum made up of desiccated fragments that lacksufficient depth and variety to engage a students curiosity fully, notbecause such a bland curriculum is a natural necessity, like pabulumfor babes, but because the implementation constraints of print-basedinstruction permitted nothing else. These implementation constraintsmake it difficult for students to achieve an integral education.Likewise, they divert effort from liberal education.167¶ Through a liberal education, a student develops the capacity toacquire further knowledge, skill, and understanding withoutdependency on others. Such responsible self-direction is the mark ofthe autonomous person. A liberally educated person, confronted witha new challenge, knows how to find resources, has sufficientintellectual self-confidence to sense what he needs to know in orderto proceed, can judge what is relevant, can comprehend newmaterial, and work through the difficulties he encounters withoutdepending on external authority for guidance. A liberally educatedperson has learned to learn, and can respond, a free, self-directingperson, to the challenges life puts.186 Significant implementationconstraints of print-based schooling discourage attainment of a liberaleducation. Too often educators seem to propound the fiction that tomaster any subject, one must learn its official epitome, and theteachers role is to carry the student systematically through theepitome and to certify his mastery of it. At each step, one mightexpect interest in having students demonstrate their ability to reachout and grasp new issues and ideas, but testing is often habituallyretrospective in orientation, designed to make sure that the studentknows what he is supposed to know, where knowing consists inreciting back what has been taught. When this system of testing isdecadent, progress through it is entirely passive, simply a function ofthe students aging, year by year. When it still has some vitality,progress through it depends on demonstrating command of the givenincrement, good marks all along, capped by passing the "final exam,"Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 42. an oxymoron if there ever was one, for the final exam recurs term byterm, year by year, subject by subject. Incessantly testing whetherthe student knows what has been taught does not cultivate the ideaof a liberal education. Instead, it insinuates the slavish belief that onlyexternal authority can validate ones learning.168¶ Of course, within this world numerous teachers work interstitiallywith interested students to develop powers of self-directed inquiry.But such teachers are often on the defensive. Apologists of the statusquo claim that at least their way has the virtue of accountability,whereas practitioners of liberal education spout high-mindedplatitudes the attainment of which can never be measured. Inprinciple, it would be easy to test whether a students education isliberal, for all one needs to do is pose new challenges to her and seewhether she can independently acquire the intellectual resourcesneeded to meet them, finding suitable materials, advice, andexplanations. In practice, such a test has been hard to implementbecause the intellectual resources manageable in schooling havebeen so restricted. Problem-solving does not lend itself to textbookpresentations. Testing in the print-based system does not even mapthe full range of what a student has learned; it probes instead howcompletely the student has learned those materials that authoritydeems essential, required. Such testing encourages servile, notliberal, education.169¶ Information about how ready a student is to tackle different sortsof problems independently would better benefit the clients ofschooling—colleges, corporations, parents and students themselves,the public at large. Critics and commentators insist that problem-solving should be the focus of the schools, the purpose of which is tohelp students learn to learn. These strictures signify the importanceof liberal education, which can have, not only significant spiritualmeaning, but also a real cash-value in a fast-changing world ofpragmatic action. The implementation constraints of the currentsystem, however, are fundamentally inimical to these goals. Problemsexist as open-ended challenges and one cannot engage in solvingthem where the scope of relevant material is radically circumscribedand the sequence of its presentation choreographed step by step. Yetwe pretend that each student should learn the same thing as anyother student as they march year by year through the schoolcurriculum. Why do we do this? That is all that print-based schoolscan manage. People may have seen it as a natural necessity ofsound education, like never moving faster than fifteen miles-per-hour.But really it is a simple implementation constraint that comes withbasing the process on a predetermined text. Can it now be donesome other way, one that will discard these well-worn implementationconstraints?Navigating Networked, Intelligent Multimedia170¶ Technology is not now entering education for the first time. Theschools embody a mature educational technology based on printing.To develop the uses of digital information technology in education, theestablished technology of schooling will need to be displaced. Thatcan now happen.171¶ Imagine a thoroughly computer-based curriculum. It will residein a system of networked multimedia. Each student will link to it with anotebook computer. Additionally, small-group workstations will beubiquitously available, on average one for every four students, andone per teacher. These will be high-powered systems capable ofdelivering quality multimedia presentations while multi-taskingcomplex programs in the background. The networking will be veryhigh speed, sufficiently powerful to provide each workstation with itsown stream of digitized, interactive, full-screen video and good audio.The library of materials available through the system will be extensive,consisting of a full cross-section of the culture in all its branches andRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 43. varieties and effective tools to aid its study. These materials will resideprimarily on an advanced server system for the school on thepremises, with integrated, high-speed links to other servers, near anddistant, so that members of study-groups can call for most anymaterial they want and receive it with insignificant delay. In addition tothe small-group workstations, all spaces will have appropriatelyscaled projection monitors or large, flat wall-displays for showingmaterial to larger groups.172¶ For our purposes, the particulars of this system are lessimportant than the order of capacity that they indicate. In a fullydigitized culture, the educational resources of the school will beubiquitously available and they will be far more extensive andpowerful than those currently available. With this order of capacity,we can indicate quite precisely how this environment will differpedagogically from that experienced in print-based schools. Twofeatures of it will be most important.First, all the materials pertaining to the curriculum will beaccessible to any student or teacher at any time. The curriculumwill cease to be a sequence of compartmentalized units.Second, the scope of the materials included in the curriculum,while not boundless, will be much greater than the thirty stoutvolumes that it currently can comprise. The curriculum willprovide multiple paths to the highest levels of achievement in alldomains of the contributing cultures. These two features—atransformation of scope and a transcending of setsequence—will profoundly alter the implementation constraintsof the current system, radically changing its pedagogy.173¶ With all the schools intellectual resources accessible to allstudents and all teachers at all times, the curriculum will changeprofoundly. Currently, the place where all the schools materials mightbe found is in the school library, which students can use, for practicalpurposes, only on a limited, exceptional basis. When all the schoolsmaterials reside in a multimedia electronic library, accessibleinteractively over a high-speed network form any place in the school,the library, not the textbook, defines the scope of all the subjects. Ineffect the student, from his desk, can reach instantaneously into anypart of the library, which defines suddenly the universe of knowledgeand ideas that a student might study and learn.174¶ This change will have a profound effect on everyday pedagogy,for teaching and testing with reference to a text is very different fromwhat teaching and testing with reference to an electronic library willbe. With a textbook, learning means coming to know its content; witha library learning means grasping how to find, retrieve, andunderstand materials in it that one judges relevant. With a textbook,people generally presume that good students should master all thatis in them, although teachers generally decide to leave parts out andto change the weighting of emphasis. And with the practice of"curriculum alignment," the expectation is even spreading thattextbooks should include only those items likely to appear on majortests. The rest is a distraction! Currently, teachers plan the sequenceof lessons to ensure that students cover the subject, with eachmastering as much of the totality included as possible. Of course, the"subject" here is not really the subject, but the sanctioned epitome ofit that the syllabus and its associated texts comprise. In reality, thesubject includes much, much more than that, which would be foundin principle, not in the appropriate textbook, but in the relevant part ofthe library or in university departments and labs.175¶ A student who finds his subject in a library does not work in thesame way as he works with a textbook. A decent library should havemany more resources in it than any individual or group can exhaust. Ifa student can master everything on a subject in a library, we mustRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 44. conclude both that the student is superhumanly able and the libraryabysmally poor. Learning to work productively in a library entailsworking in an open-ended realm where the student must makecontinual judgments about what to do and what not to do. He looksthings up, browses, navigates through the many contributions to asubject, seeking materials that will contribute to his understanding ofthe issues at hand. The pedagogy appropriate in this context willdiffer from that used when the "good" student is to master everythingin the assigned text.176¶ In a computer-based educational system, all intellectualcontents and pedagogical resources will be available to all studentsand teachers at all times, and those materials will be much moreextensive and complex than they currently are. Together, these twochanges will shatter the implementation constraints of the print-basedsystem. As these constraints disappear, the span of pedagogicalpossibility will change. What people will be able to learn, what theywill need to learn, and how they learn it will shift significantly. Let usreflect on how these changes may soon happen.Chapter Five - Making a New Educational System177¶ Big changes in key institutions are hard to launch, butirresistible once underway. They are tough to start because they needto be many-sided. Existing arrangements are a puzzle of manyinterlocking pieces. One cannot, for instance, simply replacetextbooks with computer programs that do the same thing, onlyslightly better, for all sorts of other things will have to start changingas well—classroom layout, teacher training, curriculum organization,the interaction of children in class, relations between home andschool, possibly even the professed purposes of the school.178¶ So far, innovators have scaled applications of the newtechnologies to education almost entirely to the conventions ofcurrent practice. It is as if architects had tested the potentials ofI-beam frames, elevators, curtain walls, plate glass, and the like onlyin the construction of single-family homes and five-story brownstones.In tests scaled to prior conventions, the advantages would appearmarginal. Interesting possibilities might emerge, but the fullpotentialities of the new architecture would be far from evident.Historically, architects built the case for new materials, not byimproving familiar structures with them, but by putting up newstructures that were previously impracticable, a wondrous EiffelTower, changing the span of architectural possibility.179¶ High-rise cities have their beauty and sophistication, as well astheir despair and discontents. If we use new technologies to create anew educational system, we receive no guarantee that in the mostprofound sense it will be better than the old, effectively generating ahigher humanity. Changes in conditions and contexts are important,not because they compel the stakes of life to culminate in anynecessary outcome, be it good or bad. They are important becausethey alter the dynamics of interaction, allowing the stakes of life toplay out in a myriad of ways, some new, some old, some good, somebad. They refresh the game—some losers become winners, somewinners, losers; some visions that practical people could once dismisswith a snort become the realistic grounds for effective action.Changes in conditions shake the kaleidoscope of history, allowingnew generations to struggle, again yet anew, with the great issues ofmeaning and value.180¶ Educators are stuck, world around, with a big, mature systemthat is nowhere prepossessing in the way it functions. Cross-nationalcomparisons of educational performance, pointing up significantdifferences in result, are an increasing obsession in professional andpublic discussions of education. They should not, however, obscurefrom view the fundamental structural similarities that make theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 45. comparisons possible and interesting. Any group of long-distancerunners will spread out along a spectrum of performance, but theirtimes will be comparable precisely because they are similarcompetitors running the same race. The task of technology ineducation is not to move an also-ran to the head of the pack; the taskis to substitute a new, distinctly superior spectrum of performance forthe old. That will refresh the game, allowing us to return to the issuesof human worth and purpose.181¶ Let us to break away from the structural limitations of the currentworld-wide system of schooling. Like architecture a century ago, wecan make this break because we have new resources with which towork, suspending traditional implementation constraints. We aim tomake a new system of education, one different from the system ofprint-based schooling that has dominated educational effort for thepast five centuries. To make such a departure, five componentsessential in the construction of the given system need to beredesigned with full awareness of the potentialities of informationtechnologies in mind.How should we organize educative activity in space and time tomake full use of information technology? What should itslocation and schedule be?What well-springs of human emotion and activity should it tapfor its driving energies?How should we manage the works and knowledge of our cultureso that presentation of them through advanced informationtechnologies will best support the educative effort?What pedagogical resources will best enable students toexplore, select, and appropriate the skills and ideas that theculture proffers to them?How can we structure the activities of teaching so that theyattract highly talented people and provide them withself-renewing and self-developing conditions of work?These questions will lead us into considering a complex system inwhich multiple sets of arrangements function in reciprocal interaction.We will survey this complexity by attending to five distinct topics—environment, motivation, culture, educational method, and staffing.The constraints of discourse require that we do this in an order, firstone then another. Despite this apparent sequence, these topics are,of course, simultaneous facets of a single system. Our isolation ofthem, one from another, occurs through abstraction in discourse, notin fact. After discussing them in an arbitrary order, we will need toremind ourselves that they coexist in complex interaction.Educational Design of Learning Environments182¶ We need a starting point: look first at the environment, theorganization of educational space and time, not because it isnecessarily fundamental, but because it is perhaps the most visible.The basic unit of school space is the classroom, world around. It isscaled for one teacher and an appropriate number of students, abouttwenty-five, plus or minus 50 percent. The basic unit of school time isthe period, which aggregates into the school day, which in turnaggregates into the school year. The period is essentially an hour,including transition time between periods, plus or minus 25 percent,with occasional use of double periods. How can informationtechnologies help alter these basic units?183¶ Taking the problem of time and space first, we cannot be asconclusive about it as we might like without anticipating other matterssuch as motivation, cultural content, and educational method. In thissection, we will consider only how new technologies can open optionswith respect to the organization of the school. Three concepts will bekey in the discussion: asynchronous space and time, responsiveRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 46. environments, and virtual reconstruction. By asynchronous space andtime, we mean the ability of people, who are not synchronized in thesame place at the same time, to communicate easily with each otherin a variety of responsive ways. By responsive environments, wemean the ability to endow spaces and periods with an electronicresponsiveness to the particular people in them, with the spaces andperiods adapting what is in them and how they are organized to theneeds of their particular users. By virtual reconstruction, we mean theability to use interactive multimedia components to redesign andreconfigure the human experience of existing physical spaces withouthaving to make physical, structural changes in buildings.Asynchronous space and time, responsive environments, and virtualreconstruction can powerfully transform the way schools work.184¶ Existing schools can be viewed as a means for synchronizingdiverse activities in space and time. That is what scheduling is allabout, and within a particular class, a teacher needs diverse arts forsynchronizing effort on the subject at hand. Schooling at its bestcenters on developing students skills and sensibilities. In settingscontrolled by this purpose, the interaction between teacher andstudents will involve open-ended questions, discussion, and attentionto the processes by which students work—individually and in groups.The class, when conducted by an adept teacher, will have a powerfulrhythm and flow, with different students taking different parts atdifferent times, the whole being an intensely choreographedexperience, with all taking part, but some taking a more central partthan others. Here coverage, in the sense of each student getting afull opportunity to try all the steps in the program, will be at risk, andsuch coverage is the very thing that school space and timetraditionally work to guarantee.185¶ Consequently, the system gravitates to a different, moreponderous synchronization. During the typical period, in middle orupper grades, with attention to coverage increasingly controlling, theinteraction between teacher and students will consist largely ofrecitation, a process in which the teacher incites students to displaytheir command of material and evaluates their performances, good,bad, or indifferent, relative to each other. Recitation may be precededby explanation in the form of lectures or demonstrations, or it may bebased on homework on assigned materials. Recitation may be in theform of verbal answers to questions, with students called randomly orvying for the teachers attention, or it may be in the form of writtenquizzes and tests. Whatever the form, the opportunity arises forrecitation because a teacher has assigned a unit of material to hisstudents, for mastery of which they are responsible, and the functionof recitation is to probe and reinforce that mastery. The underlyingidea of synchronization here is that all are doing the same thing at thesame time, with the students and teacher marching briskly throughthe material all in step with one another.186¶ Educational computers can provide asynchronous supports forboth forms of synchronized classroom interaction, recitation anddiscussion. Drill and practice systems allow students to get thebenefits of systematic recitation without having to be synchronized inspace and time with their teachers or their peers. These programsallow each student to pursue them at his own pace and, in a properlynetworked environment, at a time and place of his choosing; he doesnot need to suffer ridicule should he bumble or incur impatienceshould he be slow; nor need he linger in glazed boredom should hehave it down pat while others wrestle laboriously with the items to becovered. Drill and practice programs may have a significant liberatinginfluence in education if they help open the existing organization ofspace and time, making it unnecessary to group students forrecitation in order to guarantee them suitable coverage.187¶ In like manner, computer networks can support a great deal ofRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 47. complicated, inter-personal activity, discussion, that is asynchronousin space and time. Networked multimedia systems will increasinglyallow any person, anyplace, to enter into face-to-face exchange withanyone else with remarkable flexibility in time. Currently, electronicmail gives an indication of what will emerge, for it significantly altersthe temporal and spatial frame within which consultations betweenstudents and teachers can take place. Like the telephone, e-mailallows people to interact independent of place, but unlike thetelephone, which requires both parties to be synchronized in time,e-mail does not. Digital-video-mail will gain much of the immediacy offace-to-face interaction, while allowing the parties to be most anyplace and with a very flexible linkage in time. An intensive,many-cycled give-and-take can occur without the parties needing tobe synchronous either in time or space.188¶ By complementing synchronized interactions with a full capacityfor asynchronized ones, the physical constraints impeding one-to-oneconsultation between a teacher and a student can be greatly lowered,and all sorts of new pedagogical groupings may become bothfeasible and effective. For instance, team teaching is likely to take onmore powerful, central significance, with perhaps four teachers—specialists in language and literature, social studies, science, andthe arts—working the whole day, each day, throughout the year, witha class of eighty to one hundred students, who in small groups wouldbe cooperatively pursuing several long-term projects. Their activitymight be spread across several rooms, with everyone moving backand forth between synchronous and asynchronous interactionsconcerning their tasks at hand—a face-to-face question leading to acomputer consultation and the posting of three e-mail queries, withthe answer to one resulting a few hours later in a new subgrouping,and so on. Such an educational space would be much more like anatelier, a design studio, or an architectural office, than thepresent-day school. Whatever it comes to be like, or unlike, one of themajor tasks for educators will be to discover how to adapt theasynchronous powers of computer communications to theirpedagogical purposes.189¶ Responsive environments will be a second major means forusing information technology to reorganize educational time andspace. What is in a name? Each student has one. A teacher fails tobe responsive by not learning his students names and being unableto recognize who each is, what interests them, what their hopes andfears may be. Kindergarten and elementary classrooms, home rooms,develop a marvelous clutter of things here and there and all over thewalls, things of meaning to teacher and pupil alike, things responsiveto their interests and activities. In middle and upper grades, asstudents and teachers increasingly move from room to roomaccording to the dictates of the schedule, the environment becomesless personal, an anonymous space occupied for an arbitrary time.Information technologies can do much to make these surroundingsmore meaningful, more responsive to the people at work within them.190¶ Even with the current state of the art, people who work regularlywith a particular computer will customize the electronic microworldthat it presents to them. Someone adept with her computer will haveher selection of software on it, not just any selection, and over timeshe will have configured that software to reflect her preferences. Shewill arrange it on disks the way she likes it and associate programswith icons so that she can manage them without breaking her train ofthought. She will build up a complicated sense of electronic spacefilled with all sorts of objects and functions that she cannot see, butthat she has a sense nevertheless of how they orient to each other,and to her, rather, perhaps, like the sense of familiar rooms that aperson who is blind builds up. With a few strokes, she can run littleprograms that reconfigure her working space from one project toRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 48. another, much like she does when she moves from one room toanother. The electronic environment need be neither anonymous norarbitrary.191¶ Such personalization of the electronic environment can carryover from the personal computer to a network. When the user logsonto the network, he activates configuration programs that set theenvironment to his style and need, regardless of where in physicalspace the workstation may be. Portable computers also give anexperience of this movable amenity—pop, in a distant city the familiarelectronic work space is right there. These intimations of thepossibilities are merely snapshots taken at the base of an ascendingcurve of innovation. Current networks are slow and awkward;portables are cramped and self-conscious. In due course, before thefirst-grader is into secondary school, computers of diverse sorts willbe all about, hanging on the wall like pictures, encased in a slimwriting pad, slipped in a shirt pocket, standing there as a powerfulworkstation. As we take up Hamlet, the workstation at my placesenses who I am, greets me, remembers where I left off two daysbefore, and, along with the rest of the computers in the room,reconfigures itself to reflect the topic and the participants, thewallboards cycling silently through heuristic images, each personsnotepad retrieving his jottings, and the workstation nearest thenewcomer to the discussion running a quick recap for her.192¶ Pedagogical environments can be made responsive in all sortsof significant ways, large and small. These do not require any greatadvance towards artificial intelligence. On the contrary, most of itsimply involves keeping track of who is who and who needs what,where and when. Essentially, in a well networked system everythingis physically in only one place, and it can appear logically, virtually,wherever we wish whenever we wish. Think of all the excuses—"I lostmy homework instructions. . . . My dog ate my paper. . . . I left mybook at Jimmys and Mom wouldnt let me go back for it. . . . Its in mylocker. . . . I went to the library but it was checked out. . . . Oh, Ithought we were to do page 153, not 143. . . . I missed last class andno one told me. . . ." With a well-networked computer, studentsshould be able to avoid these plights because the educationalenvironment will be more responsive to them.193¶ These forms of responsiveness will become possible becausenetworked multimedia will provide each student access to all theschools educational resources at all times. Another form ofresponsiveness will become possible because the scope of thoseeducational resources will be much greater than it can be inprint-based schools. Philosophy begins in wonder, the ancients said.But it is hard to nurture adequately the wondering of many differentstudents. Informed teachers, school libraries, trips and travel, all helpfeed the collective curiosity of the student body. But they are hardpressed, under stocked, and infrequent. As a place experienced andas time spent, the school is too often not the locus of wonder in ouryoung. The regimen of the school is historically old; its effectspredictable; its ethos all too often fails to command attention andengagement.194¶ To what degree does any given school pulsate as a source ofinformation and stimulation about the world in its full complexity?Many alternative activities—television and films, after-school work,hanging out in the mall, radio and a ride around to a concert andback—may actually provide more stimulus to amazement and respectthan does the program of the school. Relative to the world of thetwenty-first century, existing schools are narrow and simplistic.Television news casually girds the globe and reports historic eventsfrom every different culture and commerce brings every manner ofproduct from every manner of place into supermarkets, malls, andmail order catalogues. If these are the cultural wastelands, what areRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 49. the schools? To transmit the culture, schools must drive the culture,energizing and advancing it, celebrating its ideas and energies morevigorously than other institutions. A robust school that offers accessto the whole culture, in all its complexity and richness, throughnetworked, interactive multimedia may regain a lost luster as the mainmeans by which the young can assuage their collective curiosity. Tobe a fully responsive environment, the school should be the placewith the aura of wonder and excitement for the young and theschools time should be the time of anticipation and fervor: the schoolneeds to throb with knowledge and inquiry, with a confident mastery,acknowledged as the locus of creative innovation crafting thecommon future. Then, indeed, it will be a responsive environment.195¶ Virtual reconstruction will be a third means for using thecomputer as a system to remake the time and space of schools. Inorder for innovations to have a substantial, transformative effect oneducation writ large, they need to be introduced on a wide scale in aconcentrated, short period. In a significant transition, there may be along initial period of gestation, and a long, concluding period wherenew arrangements reach saturation. But between, when theinnovation genuinely takes hold of the world of practice, it needs tospread rapidly, being introduced coherently in many different placesover five to ten years. Educators have great difficulty sustaining sucha process. Developed societies have huge capital investments inschool buildings. These are real structures with corridors andclassrooms; electrical systems, plumbing, ventilation; labs and officesand music rooms and a m—lange of acquired stuff, all designed tofunction efficiently according to established pedagogical practices,built to last, usually to institutional standards, financed through bondissues and mortgages with long pay-out periods. Over-all the capitalreplacement cycle in education is fifty years plus or minus and it ishard to focus innovative energies within it.196¶ Reforms that propose alternative designs of time and space,curiously, find no dearth of pioneers. School construction is alwaysgoing on and many communities prove eager to dress the process upin ideas of reform and renewal. The problem arises when theinnovation, to sustain its own dynamism, needs to spread morerapidly than the capital replacement cycle will allow. At first theproposition is easy: "we need a new lower school; lets design itaccording to the British infant school model." Soon the propositionelsewhere becomes more difficult: "It was just finished! If it meansmajor renovations to the lower school to adopt the British infantschool model, were going to wait until the evidence is moreconclusive than it seems to me to be." The capital replacement cycleprobably has a great deal to do with the tendency of educators to waxenthusiastic about potential innovations and then a few years later towane in disillusion with them.197¶ With respect to the capital replacement cycle, the computer as asystem has very interesting characteristics. While it is easier to buildinformation technologies into new construction that it is to retrofitexisting buildings with them, the difference is not that great.Ocean-going steamships long carried a full complement of sails, andit may not be unwise for electronic schools to be able to function,when appropriate, in a traditional print-based style. If educators canredesign educational space and time with electronic technologies,leaving the existing physical spaces of the school intact, functional ifnot optimal, then they will have disengaged the innovation cycle fromthe capital replacement cycle. That will greatly enhance prospects forsuccess.198¶ In doing this, the concept of the virtual is very important.Computer specialists often distinguish between physical devices andlogical or virtual devices. In this sense, computer environments areprofoundly relativistic. Physical devices are the manufactured,Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 50. material components of the system. Logical or virtual devices dependon the way those physical components have been configured toappear to the user. There may be one physical storage device, forexample a high capacity fixed disk drive on a computer, but it may beconfigured to appear as several different logical devices, drives C:>and D:>, to the user. Conversely, several physical devices may beconfigured to appear as one virtual device without the user needing toknow where those physical devices are and how information he savesis divvied up between them. Very shortly, the virtual reconstruction ofspaces will become widely feasible, with physically distinct spacesbeing joined into virtual rooms where people in different locations caninteract as if they were together face-to-face. Schools are likelylocations for these developments.199¶ Networks provide the first set of possibilities for virtualreconstruction. Imagine that a school districts science faculty decidesto try a multi-grade project involving students from the third, seventh,and eleventh grades. Lets postulate that this is not a little side projectwhere a couple high school students and a few from the intermediateschool go to the elementary school for a few hours each week.Instead, it is to be a big deal involving all the students in each grade,each day, buttressed by theories that young children can learn wellfrom older children and that older children can learn well by trying toteach younger ones and that they will form a stronger sense ofresponsibility and purpose in the process. With each grade inseparate buildings, such a plan is nearly unthinkable in traditionalcontexts unless one were to contemplate the complete redesign ofthe districts school buildings. With intensive networking and goodvideo conferencing, such an experiment would not be impossiblydifficult to configure and there would be relatively little need torestructure the existing school plants. This would be an instance ofvirtual reconstruction.200¶ All sorts of ways to reconfigure time and space electronically willrapidly arise. For instance, the cost of large flat panel displays thatcan hang on a wall are decreasing and these can be used to joinspaces that stand adjacent, or even half way round the world, in veryresponsive ways, where glances at one another across the virtualroom can meet in a smile and a blush, a nudge and a giggle, or smallgroups, half here and half there, can converse in a virtual corner. Itwould be, thus, a strategic mistake of the first order to think that weneed to physically reconstruct all the spaces of education in order toadapt them to the use of electronic technology. Rather, we need touse the electronic technology as fully as possible as new architecturalelements to create new virtual spaces within the confines of existingphysical structures. In this way, the innovation cycle can be set freefrom the capital replacement cycle and the transformation ofeducation can follow apace.201¶ Multimedia information technologies with powerful networking,tracking, and scheduling capacities can make the very flexible use ofspace and time possible. For a new system of education to emerge,educators, working closely with established and emergent schools,will need to experiment with such flexibilities, learning to useasynchronous space and time, responsive environments, and virtualreconstruction to further the deepest educational purposes. From thepresent vantage, we cannot predict the precise features of theinnovations that will prove successful, but, one way or another, aseducators act on the intuition that new technologies will enable themto reshape pedagogical space and time, they will develop a moreeffective environment. We are dealing with innovations that invalidatethe common sense that held under prior conditions; our task will be todevelop a new common sense, suitable for the new conditions. Withthe old common sense, educational environments were standardizedand predictable; with the new, they will be flexible, diverse—aRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 51. challenge to the imagination. The same will prevail with the strategiesof motivation at work in these new environments.Motivational Sources of Education202¶ Think of a fifth-grade classroom. Imagine the class dealing withvirtually any subject. The teacher has just provided an explanation ofa key point summarized in the text. She asks a question—somepupils raise their hands and wave eagerly, confidant that they knowthe answer. Some sit in a studious effort to avoid attracting theteachers attention, knowing that they do not know and not wantingthat fact to be registered in the public knowledge of the teacher or theclass. Others seem neither eager nor reluctant, they fidget, raise andlower a hand in ambivalence, thinking they know the answer but notbeing sure, wanting to earn the teachers commendation, but fearingthat, if wrong, they risk rejection or rebuke. These are the signs ofinstructional competition at work. From the early grades through thehighest levels, the existing system motivates children by engagingthem in a competitive effort to shine in recitation and examination, inwhich each tries to show that he or she has mastered better thanothers the information sanctioned to be fit for his or her level and tobe correct in the view of academic authority. As a result of thisreliance on competition, the educational system functions as apowerful sorting mechanism, and when it becomes clear to many thathowever they may try, they have lost the competition, they drop out.—203¶ It is remarkable how thoroughly existing educational systems,around the world, have been adapted to harness competitivemotivations. It is very hard to find arrangements in schools that havebeen designed to encourage children to act from other motivationalsources. Undoubtedly the reasons for this reliance are complex, andcertainly one among them is the important fact that competition is avery powerful, effective motivator. But there are other powerfulmotivators, among them cooperation and it is remarkable how feweducational arrangements have been designed to motivate children tolearn through cooperation. The reason for this imbalance betweencompetition and cooperation may have had much to do with thelogistics of working with printed information.204¶ Think of a ninth-grade teacher, preparing a unit on feudalism,lamenting—I cant have them do group projects. There just arentenough worthwhile materials reasonably available to them. New YorkCity has all sorts of resources, but it doesnt really help—those whowould need to go to the Cloisters wouldnt be able to get therewithout all sorts of complications. The school library is good butinadequate and they cant just simply use the high-school annex tothe New York Public Library—we either stay in the school or arrange,all together, to take a trip. How do I get some to the Met, others to theMorgan, and a couple into the stacks at Butler Library? How canprojects be done at a high academic level in a routine way?205¶ If it is hard to do group projects at a high academic level in aroutine way in New York City, it is far harder, most other places. Sadly,serious information management problems discourage inquiry andcooperative learning, problems that must be solved if thesealternatives to competitive learning are to become practical, everydayalternatives in mass education. Competitive motivation arises when agroup of students start from an appropriately equivalent basis,usually as measured by age, and each is then asked to master alimited, standardized body of material, with goods—praise, grades,promotion, and acceptance by the college of choice—beingdistributed in proportion to how well, in comparison to others, eachperforms. From the point of view of information management, thispractice is very efficient; it is essential in establishing the comparisonthat all work with the same body of subject matter. This creates alarge market for inexpensive, well-chosen, clearly-presentedRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 52. selections, which textbook publishers compete to provide.206¶ Cooperative learning does not make sense in situations whereeach student starts with the same content with the goal of masteringmore of it than anyone else. Cooperation aims at having participantsdo different things and then coordinating their accomplishments in acommon achievement that exceeds what each would manage alone.In educational situations this puts far greater strain on the informationresources available to the cooperating participants. Ideally, for robustcooperative learning, students should face an expansive horizon ofquestions, armed with extensive resources to pursue their inquiries inmany directions to considerable depth. If the questions and resourcesavailable are limited, their cooperative effort will not make much senseand different members of the group will find themselves working atcross-purposes with each other, repeating each others efforts, andvying with one another to do the most with the few resources onwhich all converge.207¶ For centuries, educational reformers have contended thatcooperative learning would be a good thing, and occasional examplesof learning by working together to solve real problems keep the idealalive. It has been very hard, however, to provide the intellectualresources to sustain good cooperative learning in most educationalsettings. The practice has worked best with the very young, whererelatively limited materials will sustain the effort, or at the most elitelevels of education where bountiful laboratories and libraries sustainthe extensive specialization of inquiry that cooperative learninggenerates. For the age between these extremes, cooperative learninghas been very difficult to implement. What materials will be needed tohave twenty fifteen-year-olds do a two-week unit on feudalismaccording to the principles of competitive motivation? Each will need acopy of a well-written text and regular attendance to a teacher whocan provide supplemental explanations, moderate exploratorydiscussions, and then manage recitations and a test. What materialswill be needed to have those students spend two weeks cooperativelyexploring the history of feudalism, drawing together at the end apresentation of their results? The range of possibly pertinentmaterials is nearly limitless and the possible roles a teacher mighttake in the effort are almost boundless. Consequently, the informationlogistics of cooperative learning strain the print-based system.208¶ Electronic information management technologies willsignificantly diminish the logistical constraints on cooperativelearning. One of the simplest examples of such change involves theproblem of movement. Traditionally, inquiry meant that children hadto leave the classroom to go to the library or other locations ofspecialized resources. This usually was not efficient, introducingconfusion about who was where and wasting time in excessmovement. With inquiry in a well-networked electronic environment,the children can access specialized resources, almostinstantaneously, with very little waste of time or effort. Such changesin logistics can have profound effects on the experience of workingtogether. Traditionally a simple decision—"Ill get this and you getthat"—would draw a cooperating pair apart, often to quite differentlocations, perhaps with one getting stymied on the way, but unable totell her partner of the problem until long after either could do anythingabout it. In an electronic environment of information management, thetwo can allocate their effort while remaining in close proximity,physically and intellectually, often checking on the implications ofwhat each is finding for the other.209¶ Questions of motivation link profoundly with those ofassessment. As the logistics of cooperation often impede cooperativemotivation in education, so the character of assessment discouragesit. To be blunt, cooperative behavior in competitive testing amounts tocheating. And many believe that the way schools sift talent throughRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 53. competitive testing is one of the main social functions performed bythe educational system. Let us examine the case.210¶ Credentialing through education may, in fact, be a poor way todistinguish who can best do what work. Credentialing may not be afunction performed by education; rather it may be a functionperformed for education. Numerous important domains developeffective distinctions about who can do what without much recourse toeducational credentials. Exclude the educational drop-outs from thecomputer industry and you would exclude a great portion of its talent.Businesses, which have a high stake in promoting people accordingto their capacities, do not usually do so by recourse to competitivetests. Rather, they observe how employees perform under diverseconditions, often in situations where each must cooperate with othersto get a job done. Far from existing in order to credential capacitiesthrough competition, schools and society may engage in suchcredentialing for a quite different reason.211¶ Consider the following hypothesis. Effective schooling isimportant to the smooth functioning of an industrial, bureaucraticsystem. Compulsory education laws reflect the importance of suchschooling and they are difficult laws to enforce. Schooling as it existsis not intrinsically engaging to many students and they need extrinsicreasons to bear with the drudgery of getting an education. Policepower is not a very effective way to enforce compulsory schoolinglaws and most societies try to advance other, more positive incentivesand rationales for conforming to educational expectations. One way todevelop such incentives is to attach educational credentials aspreconditions for many types of employment. It is not that such andsuch education necessarily determines who can do the associatedwork, but often the reverse: qualifying for an inside track to variousforms of work provides the incentive for students, urging them tobuckle down and reach such and such an educational level.212¶ If education were more intrinsically engaging, and credentialingthrough competitive testing were not needed as an incentive, whatmight assessment then accomplish? Its first function would bediagnostic. Assessment currently inhibits good educational diagnosis:in the face of relatively predictable tests, students avoid taking risksand work systematically to gloss over their deficiencies. Wouldmedicine have developed if people had strong incentives to hide theirsymptoms? Were education to be, like health, an unequivocal intrinsicgood for people, they would want pedagogical assessments that werediagnostically effective, revealing their weaknesses in ways that wouldhelp them to take measures to improve. A second function ofassessment, were education more inherently involving, would bedemonstrative. Here competition might play a significant role, but itwould be more sportive—"Yo! Look! Here is what we can do!" Whendoing something meaningful for themselves, people like to show theiraccomplishments off to others in the hope of recognition from thosewho can appreciate the art and effort of the work. Here, theopportunity for assessment will lead a student to create a portfolio,presenting those accomplishments that best represent her skills andvalues. A computer-based system of education will need to providestudents and teachers with good diagnostic tools and with ampleopportunities for creating meaningful work, along with resources forpreserving and presenting it to interested audiences.213¶ Issues of motivation and assessment are deeply human issues.In making a new educational system with the resources of digitaltechnologies, we risk paying too much attention to passing details ofthe technology. What is at stake with the introduction of computers ineducation is the human use of human beings, and the key issues arenot technical. They are instead issues of political and culturalinteraction, emotional fulfillment, and cultural achievement. Educatorsare passing through a portal of opportunity. Once they have definedRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 54. the form of the technology, it will sternly reinforce the theory ofmotivation they have built into it. But for now, educational technologystill has a protean motivational character. In giving shape to it, weshould attend to the deep and difficult questions.How should we implement systems to support cooperativeinquiry?What size and structure for cooperative groups will work best fordifferent ages and activities?How should students, teachers, and the public assessperformance in cooperative settings?How should curriculum designers organize knowledge and toolsof inquiry and expression in order to support learning by themembers of study groups?These, and many similar questions, need serious examination in orderto broaden the motivational energies effectively harnessed in atechnology-intensive educational system. The same primacy of thehuman issues over the technological will be evident as we considerhow educators should organize the resources of the culture for use ina computer-based system of education.Organizing Culture and Knowledge214¶ In making a new educational system, the most difficult task willbe reorganizing the culture to adapt it to the use of digitaltechnologies. This assertion can be easily misunderstood. It does notmean that the computer as a system should suddenly become thecontrolling reference point in making cultural choices. But it doesmean that the computer needs to be taken into account in theprocess. It should not determine what the curriculum comprises, but itwill shape how educators organize the materials of the curriculum,and the effects on that may be sufficient to alter weightings, makingsome current concerns insignificant and other matters, now trivial,quite prominent.215¶ A similar assertion with respect to another domain can clarifywhat is at stake—in making a system of automobile transportation,the most difficult task was redeveloping the road system andtransportation support industries to adapt them to the use of cars.Where roads went still depended on where people were and wherethey wanted to go. But the design and engineering of roads had tochange substantially—surfaces well adapted to horses hooves werenot suitable for cars and the livery stable had to give way to the gasstation and the multinational companies that provide their products.To work well with computers, educators will need to redesign thecurriculum through and through, still ensuring that it serves humanepurposes, but transforming many of its characteristics, ignoringhooves, as it were, and attending to tires.216¶ Consider one other point at the outset. Curriculum issues arepresently controversial, with different visions of how educators shouldselect elements of the culture for presentation to students at the heartof the controversy. To construct a curriculum, one must evaluate andselect from the sum of human acquirements, narrowing the infiniterange of possibilities to a finite field, one that nevertheless exceedsthe power of acquisition of any individual by a wide margin. Debateabout such selection now splits between proponents of "culturalliteracy," who seek a fairly narrow, canonical selection, and advocatesof "multicultural" approaches, who call for a broader, more inclusiveselection. In thinking about making a new educational system throughthe material agency of digital technologies, our purpose should notbe to advance one or the other side of this debate. The positionswithin it do not stand above the implementation constraints of thecurrent system. The terms of the debate between cultural literacy andmulticultural education will be reshaped substantially by theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 55. development of a new system of education that uses informationtechnologies with full effect.217¶ Within the current curriculum, we squeeze WASP culture as if itwere in a cider press and then we sprinkle in cloves and cinnamonfrom here and there, casting Hispanic and other great literaturesaside to rot unused. If very serious constraints on the scope of thecurriculum did not exist, few critics would call for a canon nearly asnarrow as that being now propounded. The real canon of worthwhilebooks by dead, white males who wrote in European languagesgreatly exceeds the capacity of any single student to master, but itdoes not exceed the capacity of the collective student body. So too fordead white females, or for blacks, or Asians, Indians—whatever theadjectives. To put material into the traditional curriculum, one had tolimit every field drastically, excluding most of what was valuable in it.To do that, one had to generate ludicrous arguments—something tothe effect that Dickens, or some other author, one among manypeers, is the nineteenth-century English novelist that all our juniorsmust read, in one or another selected text.218¶ If one can give students access to all the canons, each in theirfull scope, accentuating the works of greatest formative power ineach, then students will have much better resources from which tochoose. Where all the canons, in their full complexity, can beincluded among the working resources of the school, it is hard to faultthe multicultural argument, that each student should be able to starther ascent through the resources of her culture at a point thatrecognizes and celebrates the ethos of her origins. We can acceptthe schema theory that proponents of cultural literacy advance, theidea that people need complex frames of reference, filled withsuggestive particulars, in order to apprehend complex ideas actively.But it is only in the context of a culturally impoverished school thatanyone need consider the proposition that a robust culture, engagingmillions in its participant creation, need be founded on a singleschema shared by all. The school should vibrate with variety. Theelectronic school will support numerous cultural literacies, betweenlanguages and within languages. With new technologies we can fillthe school with a wealth of materials on a scale hitherto notcontemplated, providing each student with resources for finding herunique way, in the light of her animating interests, through thewonder of possibilities. This is the promise of networked, intelligent,multimedia.219¶ We can create a new system of education by redesigningschools to take advantage of networked, intelligent, multimedia. Eachof these terms signifies technical developments that will havesignificant effects on the cultural selection of the curriculum. Thateverything is networked will radically change, for practical purposes,the cultural resources available on the students desktop, displacingthe sequential curriculum with a cumulative one. That "intelligence,"the ability to calculate all manner of expressions, resides in thoseresources will alter the allocation of effort that traditionally educatorshave devoted to inculcating such skills, de-emphasizing formalacquirements in favor of intentional achievements. That the systemmakes it easy to store and retrieve multimedia, as easy as ittraditionally has been to store and retrieve printed works, will broadenthe forms of representation used in education, reducing the relianceon verbal skills, expanding multi-modal study. These three changeswill aggregate into a change of major significance in the culturalpolitics of curriculum design—through the era of print, the tightconfines of the curriculum have entailed a politics of exclusion, whichwill now give way to a more expansive, creative politics of inclusion.Let us look at these developments in turn, remembering that inactuality they coexist and function in reciprocal interaction.220¶ Let us begin by noting the effects of networking, which willRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 56. displace the sequential curriculum with one that is cumulative incharacter. As we have seen, the logistics of working with printed textshave imposed the sequential property of the existing curriculum.Developmental psychologies delineated the sequences of majorstages in the childs growth. But educators should not exaggerate thedegree to which psychological development determines theircurricular sequences. That world history should be a tenth-gradesubject and American history a eleventh-grade one, or that biologyshould precede, or follow, physics or geology has little to do with thedevelopmental characteristics of children. It is largely a conventionalsolution, one among many, arising from the need to divide thecurriculum up into discrete subjects that can be presented in somesequence, according to the school calendar. The need for sequenceis inherent largely in the constraints of print, not those of psychology.And whether it should be this sequence or that sequence iscomparatively an inconsequential question.221¶ What does it mean to move from fifth to sixth grade? A child whodoes so usually changes teachers and rooms, sometimes even abuilding, but these are not the essential changes—the child couldmove from fifth to sixth grade while staying with the same teacher inthe same room. What changes from one grade to the next is thecurriculum, and most importantly the set of textbooks the pupils use.Sixth-grade texts differ from fifth-grade texts and so on and as thechild progresses through school she does not cumulatively carry thetexts from prior grades around. Students in any particular grade find ithard to regain access to the materials studied in prior grades, withoutsomehow going backwards, and they find it even harder to anticipateaccess to materials slotted for grades higher up. Unable to moveeasily, back and forth, pupils experience the curriculum as a set ofsequential studies. The costs are high. If a pupil did not get one partof the sequence, the omission can be portentous, not because thesequence is the only way things could be reasonably mastered, butbecause, once missed, the opportunity to make it up may be veryhard to regain.222¶ Students will have a very different relation to a computer-basedcurriculum, assuming that the whole body of culture and knowledgerelevant in education has been integrated into a comprehensivesystem, any element of which they can access at any time from anyplace in the school. With continuous and ubiquitous availability, thesequence of grades would loose much of its meaning and studentswould experience study as a cumulative effort. If we think of learningas a causal problem of production, a metaphor of linear sequence, inwhich one thing leads to another, will seem natural. In this context itis easy to believe that what frequently comes early in the sequencemust come there. If we think of learning, however, as an interpretativeproblem of comprehension, we will generate a different metaphor,one of extended envelopment, with the inquiring mind moving on abroad front, an advance here and another there, until it hasconfidently occupied the whole field. The sequences by which peoplecome to understand a subject through continuous envelopment areinfinite in number and unique to each person.223¶ A smart, computer-based curriculum should be able to sustainan infinite number of paths through it, and it should be able toprovide each student with clear reports about what she has so farcovered, regardless of the path and sequence she has taken. Thislearning should not simply produce knowledge, but further elicitcomprehension. Educators will develop such a cumulative curriculumas they ask questions such as these:What technological resources will best make all the knowledge,skills, and ideas in the curriculum continuously available to allstudents at all times?Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 57. If the subjects of the curriculum become more cumulative, willthe mix of activities that are useful to students change, and if so,how?Will there be a set of essentials, that must be mastered in amandatory sequence, with the new system, and if so, how willthis component of the curriculum relate to less sequential, lessmandatory parts?What will happen to distinctions between subject-matter areas ifall components of the curriculum are accessible to all studentsat all times?What tools of access, orientation, and expression will be neededby students to sustain their work with such a comprehensivecurriculum?224¶ In addition to the shift from a sequential to a cumulativeexperience of the curriculum, a computer-base for education will shiftemphasis from formal elements to intentional contents. "Formalelements" refers to the myriad tasks in which students are required tolearn to do things the "right way." Insofar as intelligence can be buildinto computers, it is this kind of intelligence. They are good at formaloperations. They multiply accurately and fast, and they can spellunerringly although they are not good at discerning whether the wordthey have spelled is indeed the one that conveys the sense theauthor intended. Computers thus are generally correct but dumb,pedagogically very desirable characteristics, for that can free studentsto concentrate on being approximate but smart. If students can learnto combine the best of each, they will become both correct and smart,and for this purpose, stress on the intentional contents of the culturewill become educationally very important.225¶ Take the example we just introduced, proofreading. Skills ofgood proofreading with word processors have been radicallychanging. Not long ago, good technique encouraged proofreaders todisengage entirely from the sense of what they were correcting. Onehad to look separately at each word and punctuation mark, ideallywith one person reading the master copy aloud with the correctorverifying that each word and mark that had been read was correctupon the proof. With a word processor, the allocation of effortbecomes significantly different. The computer is an attentive demonat picking up typos and outright errors, but it is a complete boobwhen it comes to situations where the wrong word appears, a "wither"in place of "either," a "structure" in place of "stricture." To pick up thissort of error the proofreader needs to attend closely to the sense ofthe text, to treat it as an intentional work the meaning of which shouldmake sense.226¶ As intelligent tools become ubiquitously available to people, thetraditional stress in schooling on learning how to perform correctcalculations will diminish in importance. But in its place, a premiumwill attach to the ability to perceive when something that is formallycorrect is nevertheless wrong because someone made a mistake inentering one or another element in the calculation. To do this, oneneeds to be, like the new style proofreader, alert to the intentionsassociated with the matter in question, able to see that the resultgenerated is absurd relative to its controlling purposes. The risingdemand that educators concentrate less on inculcating low-level skillsand attend more to higher-order thinking skills reflects the importanceof this shift, and a good deal of experiment will be needed to discoverhow to effect it well in the process of making a new educationalsystem.227¶ A third shift will be a function of the use of multimedia, replacingthe dominant verbalization of our culture with modes of thought andexpression that are more fully multi-modal. For five centuries, writtenmaterials have been the main channels of access to culturallyRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 58. significant knowledge. This dominance of written communicationarose because printed texts afforded a level of accessibility radicallygreater than did other modes of cultural expression. Access to printedmaterials could be general, efficient, and enduring. Access to otherforms of cultural embodiment was comparatively restricted,troublesome, and transient.228¶ To grasp this point, consider the theater, the drama, and itsplace in education. Selecting the drama reminds us that multimediaare not new. Their significance pedagogically may simply be growingof late, however. One often encounters the text of ShakespearesHamlet and other great plays as works taught within the curriculum.Producing one or another drama may be a significant extracurricularactivity, and teachers will often encourage students to see aprofessional staging of plays, should such performances beaccessible. Nevertheless, the performance, whether produced bystudents or professionals, has been generally less importanteducationally than the text of the drama because access to theperformance has been highly idiosyncratic and temporary, whereasaccess to the text has been general and enduring.229¶ In the era of print, written materials have dominated educationaleffort from the most elementary to the most advanced levels becausethese have been the materials to which access has been general,efficient, and enduring. Engravings, woodcuts, and other forms ofprinted images might seem to be a partial exception to this assertion,except that accessing them required one to manipulate the writtenlanguage, not pictorial images. Thus, to retrieve pictures of ChartresCathedral, one uses written catalogues and indexes. A radicaldeparture is afoot because now electronic information technologiescan provide general, efficient, and enduring access to a muchbroader range of culturally significant materials: recordedperformances of a play can be as easily retrieved as its text, and theretrieval process need not be mediated by words. Explore for a bitwhy the educational consequences of this development will be vast.230¶ Networked, multimedia systems will provide general, efficient,and enduring access to cultural works of nearly every formconceivable. In the era of print, written works had a culturalusefulness superior to other resources. People could distribute, store,cite, retrieve, and use printed resources far more effectively than theycould work with other forms of cultural expression. Essentially, printedmaterials have long been subject to logical retrieval, whereas othermaterials have still entailed physical retrieval. A printed work would bedistributed in many different locations, and one could refer people toit without knowing the particular physical location of the particularinstance of the material that they would consult. Thus one citededitions—Plato, The Republic, Book IX, 592b—the numerousinstances of which are scattered at many places. One could notreference paintings, plays, sculptures, and buildings, in contrast, inthis generalized way—they exist in unique locations and access tothem can require taxing trips, even a pilgrimage. Owing to thissuperior accessibility, printed materials, usually written materials,have more and more mediated the production and communication ofknowledge in modern culture.231¶ Let us sum up this development: in the era of print, verbalizationincreasingly dominated education. "Verbalization" here refers not onlyto the spoken word, but even more essentially to the written word andeven conceptualizations communicated through the symbolicnotations of mathematics and the like. In its most comprehensiveform, the basic proposition of verbalization is that higher-orderthinking consists in manipulating symbolic notations that have beenwritten down and reproduced through printing.232¶ Slowly through the twentieth century, and building rapidly at itsRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 59. end, other modes of exchanging information, ideas, and knowledgebetween people are gaining cultural power relative to printed text. Forcenturies, texts have been available "at any place at any time"—thathas been their power. With the rise of the broadcast media, firstspeech through radio and then the moving image through televisiongained part of the power of print, becoming available "at any place,"provided one tuned in at the right time. The recording industry gavemusic full accessibility, independent of particular place and time.Video tape is giving the same accessibility to the moving image,enabling one to view a film at any place at any time, and very soon,with fully interactive multimedia systems, the superior accessibility oftext compared to other forms of expression will completely disappear.233¶ When people speak about interactive, multimedia systems, theyare speaking about a process by which the full gamut of humanexpression will integrate into one complex system, with allcomponents, regardless of form, being generally, efficiently, andenduringly accessible. This integration, enhancing the accessibility ofall forms of expression, we will call multi-modal, as distinct fromverbal. As "verbalization" describes far reaching assumptions aboutthe relation between words and symbolic notations to higher-orderthinking, so we here use "multi-modal" expansively to situatereflective thinking in pre-linguistic forms of perception and awareness,which may then be expressed through words and symbolic notations,or through images, sounds and all manner of associations andactions. In this sense, the multi-modal is not a mere opposition to theverbal, not a simple alternative to it, but a Hegelian Aufhebung of it,the upheaval of it into something else in which the original formremains nevertheless included and preserved in the new. Themulti-modal in this extended sense thus includes the verbal as oneamong a number of different forms of reflective thinking: it challengespeople to integrate all those forms into a comprehensive andmany-sided culture and education. A discernible trend towardmulti-modal education is already beginning to take hold with thespreading use of videotapes in schools. This trend will accelerate withcomputer programs that provide for the multiple representation ofimportant concepts and then with the full-fledged introduction ofnetworked, intelligent, multimedia. Its historic effect will be to broadeneffective participation in the culture greatly.234¶ These three shifts—from the sequential to the cumulative, fromthe formal to the intentional, and from the verbal to the multi-modal—will combine to reshape the cultural politics of the curriculummost profoundly. One of the least attractive implementationconstraints of the print-based curriculum has been the cultural politicsassociated with it. The narrow scope of the curriculum has structuredthis politics, which has been, from the sixteenth century on, highlyexclusionist. When the core contents of the curriculum narrow downto a restricted set of materials, dominant groups will use their powerto exclude exemplars of competing visions. Humanist schools quicklybecame pervasively humanist, insisting that all materials in thecurriculum pass muster according to standards of good Ciceronianusage. Protestant schools became pervasively Protestant; Catholicschools self-consciously Catholic. And the process continues.235¶ Even as principles of political and cultural toleration havespread, exclusion has remained the controlling principle of curriculumpolitics. Dissenters have not rallied for inclusion; rather they createdtheir own separate academies. Thus we now have schoolsrepresenting the interests of many minorities, each with a tightcurriculum reflecting the sponsors parochial preferences. Whereminorities have addressed the dominant curriculum, they generallyhave tried to exclude material they found offensive, keeping pejorativereferences to themselves out of textbooks or condemning theteaching of threatening ideas. One might expect minority groups toRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 60. follow a more positive course, to seek inclusion in the curriculum ofthe most powerfully educative resources associated with theirexperience and vision, but that rarely happens, for the logistics of theprint-based curriculum are simply too constrained. In truth, theprint-based curriculum cannot comprise a full, comprehensiveselection of the best that has been thought and said, but only anarbitrary subset of it, one defined by a nationality, a religion, a class, arace, or a gender.236¶ For centuries, the necessary narrowness of the curriculum hasdistorted discussion of the educational value of the cultural tradition.In assessing the worth of its myriad elements, educators must makeludicrous claims that a particular work stands above all others. It islike our great art museums that stash away in vaults vast numbers ofimportant paintings because they have space to hang only a smallpart of their collections. The case for showing this and storing that ismarginal, yet its significance for what the public sees is absolute. Themost copious anthologies leave out much more of substantialeducative worth than they include. A good sequential curriculum willreflect clear choices and present to students a coherent, authoritativeselection because the print-based education functions that way. Anew educational system will, however, develop a different way.237¶ A curriculum based on networked, intelligent multimedia willencourage a different cultural politics. It will be greatly more inclusivein scope. Gone will be the finite body of subject matter, which thesystem holds to be teachable in its entirety and which it thereforeauthoritatively holds students responsible for learning. The idea thatgood learning consists in mastering precisely what has been taughtwill no longer hold. With multi-faceted curricular resources, which cansustain many valid paths of inquiry within them without any inquirerexhausting all their contents and permutations, one cannot specifyprecisely what has been taught. The computer-based curriculum willcomprise far more material, all of it educationally worthwhile, than anyindividual will master. The process of education will be one in whicheach student develops his unique selection of it all and the task of hiseducators will not be to determine exactly what he selects, but to helphim extract the fullest education from those elements that he doeschoose.269 In such a curricular environment, the thrust of culturalpolitics will be inclusive. Groups will find it hard to compel theexclusion of things they dislike. Instead, their task will be to ensurethat the curriculum includes their visions in the most effectivelyeducative form possible. In order to grasp what this task may entail,we need to turn our attention from the question of curriculumcontents to the pedagogy that may guide their study. In making a neweducational system, the processes of learning may themselveschange.Toward Computer-Based Educational Methods238¶ With the print-based system, education has consisted primarilyin imparting an authoritative selection of material to students who areresponsible for learning it. True, the print-based school in factpresents to each student much more than he can learn, and thebetter the school, the more this is the case. Yet the controlling idea ofthe good student is not that of the wily navigator on the open sea ofinformation and ideas. Rather the controlling idea is that of thestudent who masters, fully and efficiently, the materials sanctioned bythe syllabus, the text, and the test.239¶ With the electronic system, the scope of the authoritativeselection of material will jump significantly and the student will nolonger be responsible for simply learning it in full. Instead the studentbecomes responsible for intelligently exploring it and taking from it aunique but sound and useful sampling. Formal learning thusbecomes much closer to experiential learning. The student needs tobecome a skilled explorer, not a docile learner; the teacher becomes,Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 61. not the master, but the native guide, like Vergil to Dante, interpreting,elucidating, cautioning, exhorting. Good teachers have always workedthis way, but they often find themselves in tension with the systemwhen they do. That tension will diminish with the full development ofcomputer-based education. A different pedagogy will be at work.240¶ Working pedagogies are like mutts on the loose—both gravitateto a mongrel type, mixing traits in a rough and ready way, adapted toits milieu. The pedagogical prescriptions of educational research arelike the pedigreed breeds of show dog, strains carefully selected andmaintained with extreme vigilance, but quite incapable ofself-preservation when loosed at large. To change the mongrel type, itavails little to pursue selective breeding; one must significantlychange the milieu. The computer as a system will so change themilieu.241¶ In the current milieu, the pedagogical task starts from anauthoritative, finite selection of material that each student is supposedto master. The working pedagogy divides the material into lessons,each with its controlling objectives. The teacher presents the material,trying to engage the students interest; she explains it, encouragesstudents to practice their mastery of it, and finally tests that masterythrough recitation or other means. A computer-based milieu will differsignificantly in that it will present to students far more material thanthey will or can learn, separately or collectively. In that milieu, thecurrent working pedagogies are not particularly useful.242¶ When students confront more material than they can learn, theconcept of lesson looses its pertinence. The alternative to the lessonis familiar in the pedagogical literature of this century—the project.Progressive educators prematurely introduced the project method in amilieu in which it could not thrive. They propounded it for reasons oftheoretical preference in an educational milieu that was stillunchanged and conducive to a textbook pedagogy. The projectmethod required more extensive intellectual resources than theaverage school or teacher could command. As soon as the projectmethod went much beyond the laboratory schools, it reverted to themongrel type. Networked, intelligent multimedia will bring to schoolsthe conditions conducive to the project method. A new system ofeducation will surround each student with extensive intellectualresources, whereupon the project method will come into its own, notas the pedigreed breed of educational researchers, but as the heartymongrel of the new environment.243¶ Where more is presented than can be learned, the projectmethod will thrive. What are the key features of a project, particularlyone that takes place in an unbounded cultural environment? To beginwith, a project has a defining task, an energizing challenge, astructuring assignment. This starting point presents certain givensthat define the nature and scope of the project. These givens are theground from which the participants project their activity, forming aplan of work, extending their attention to potential resources, directingtheir effort outward. All of these matters, to which people tender theirexertion, constitute the materials of the project. The materialssurround the givens, so to speak, and move out from immediatematters of obvious relevance to items of more and more distantbackground significance, which, for one or another reason, aparticipant chooses to include in the field of attention. In addition tothese materials, the givens also define relevant tools and resources,processing strategies, characteristic questions, standards controllinginquiry, heuristics for generating hypotheses and interpretativeconcepts. In a project, the set of relevant tools, while not rigidly fixed,is relatively stable, and participants use these repeatedly upondifferent materials. The materials, in contrast, are more extensive,bounded really only by the time and effort available and the law ofdiminishing returns.Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 62. 244¶ Project pedagogy has thus three main components: the charge,the field, and the tools. The charge sets forth what the task will be,and it should do so in a way that is concrete, explicit, unambiguous,and energizing. It also determines who will pursue the project,whether it is an individual or group project, and when it will start andend. The charge also indicates what field will be pertinent and whattools will be relevant, not by circumscribing these but by providingentry ways into them. The field consists of the information and ideasthat may be mobilized in carrying out the charge. When we say thatthe curriculum of the new system will include more materials thanstudents will learn, we indicate that the field of resources relevant toany charge will always comprise more possibilities than a workinggroup can usefully exhaust. The tools consist of intellectual strategiesfor bringing information and ideas to bear upon a charge. —Eachdiscipline consists of materials and techniques and the formerconstitutes its field and the latter its tools. As much as possible in thenew system, the tools of every discipline should be ready at hand foruse: mastering the discipline will consist not in learning how to makeits tools but in putting them to constructive use.245¶ Consider some examples of charges that might be put tostudents. Since the curriculum resources to support such inquiry arenot yet in place, we do not have working instances to study, but wecan imagine possible projects in different fields. Soon, when we canput them to the test of practice, some will prove more effective thanothers, but for now, their function is not to stand as a list of perfected,or preferred, exemplars, but to exemplify a type with a set ofhypothetical instances, some of which may stand the test of practice,others of which will not.Students in the upper school Spanish group have as anon-going project developing a multimedia usage guide tocontemporary Spanish. They have access to an extensivecollection of Spanish and Latin American movies and televisionprograms, recordings by literary figures and interviews withcontemporaries describing school life in Buenos Aires, MexicoCity, Bogot—, and Toledo. They have on-line grammars anddictionaries, as well as video and audio editing tools. Somestudents have been working on the project for three years andthey manage the whole team. Essentially the team divides itselfup to study new material, checking the existing version of theGuide to uncover examples of new usage, or variant usage, andwhen they find either, the y log them into the Guide, providingexamples and relevant geographical and cultural backgroundmaterial. Via the International SchoolNet, students at many otherschools make use of the Guide and frequently send in queries,comments, and suggestions. Students working on the projectdevelop a subtle understanding of Spanish usage and a wideappreciation of the cultural contexts of the language.Students, aged ten to twelve, work in teams excavating theTimbuktu site, a hypothetical, but carefully designed, computersimulation of ruins from the Ghana, Mali, and Songhaicivilizations in West Africa from the eighth to the sixteenthcentury. The students use a program called Archaeotype, toexcavate, describe, record, and interpret several hundredsignificant objects that they slowly fit together like a puzzle toreveal long-lost civilizations. The site is somewhat oblong,divided into seven sectors, four running west to east on thenorthern tier and three on the southern. A team of three workson each sector, with one student specializing in dating andchronology, another in tracing cultural influences and patterns,and a third in reconstructing the human ecology and economy.Sometimes all seven teams meet together to discuss theemerging over-all picture of the site, and sometimes theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 63. specialists from each team meet to correlate their findings and todiscuss explanatory hypotheses. In addition to containing thesite and the tools for its excavation, the program they are usingprovides them with powerful links to the archaeological andhistorical sources that can help them make sense of what theyfind. Increasingly as the project goes on, participants realize thatthey need to develop an extensive historical horizon in order tomake sense of the cultural influences of Islam over manycenturies that they are finding evidenced and to understand theremarkably far flung trade relations evident in the artifacts.Computers will get the word right, but people will need to knowthat it is the right word, le mot juste. In mathematics, thecomputational prowess of the computer will devalue humanabilities to calculate precisely, but precision is not tantamount toperfection: numbers can be rung up wrong and blunderingformulas entered. Sensing that, in various instances, eventhough the computer gets the answer right, it is not the rightanswer will be an increasingly important skill. Estimationtechniques will become the stuff of ordinary mathematics. As aresult, one can imagine among the many ways that skill atestimation might find its way into the curriculum, development invarious sectors of the popular culture of the Reckoning Race, acommunity contest replacing the old-time Spelling Bee. Anextra-curricular group would recruit the schools reckoningracers, the best numerical estimators in each age category. Thecompetition might have three events. First, in the FastAppraisals, students estimate approximate answers, underintense time constraints, to a sequence of calculations of varioustypes. Second, in the Error Identifications, they track a series ofmachine calculations, trying to identify which ones, althoughformally correct, are nevertheless contextually wrong owing tosome sort of input error. Third, in the Bug Hunt, they diagnosefor a panel of judges the probable cause of the wrongcalculations, suggesting steps that might prevent or correctthem, and the judges rate the astuteness of their diagnoses. Inthe emerging computer-assisted culture, reckoning will be a skillall need, and reckoning racers could develop some peerprestige.The Poetry Club has become something more than a club.Participants regularly contribute video readings of workscomposed by them and by their favorite poets. Their friends, andsupervising teachers, critique these readings with voice mail,linked to the appropriate places in the video. The Poetry Corner,a conference on the network has a full collection of videos,recordings, and texts on the major poets of the world, living anddead and one afternoon a week a group meets in an assemblyroom to watch, listen, and discuss. As their graduatingpresentation, six students work together studying majorproductions of popular culture from 1950 to 1980, trying to testthe hypothesis that during that period composers of music,poetry, and film shifted away from techniques of compositionconditioned by the processes of writing, reverting to thoseassociated with oral-epic performance. In three months they willpresent to the school a booming multimedia documentary ontheir findings and they are asking a Public BroadcastingCorporation scout to come, hoping she will want it for theirnational cable list.A group of middle and upper school science students have as aproject, conducted with several teachers specializing in differentaspects of science, an inquiry into the relationship betweenobservation and theory in the development of science. How doscientific instruments shape scientific knowledge? In theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 64. historical development of the sciences, how have limitations onthe capacity to take and record observations of different kinds ofphenomena influenced theoretical explanations of thosephenomena? The project team works with simulated instrumentsand communication resources characteristic of differenthistorical settings in the development of science. They assembletypical observations pertinent to a problem and research thehistorical theories explaining solutions to it. They brainstormabout alternative theories that might be based on theobservations they can assemble and write up these theories inscientific papers that they submit via network to the Academy ofSimulated Science, which includes interested adults and othersuch groups at other schools. They criticize the contributions,usually showing that the proposed theories would not reallyhave been possible given the state of observation andunderstanding that then prevailed, but occasionally analternative stands up to the criticism, revealing a possible pathof theoretical development in the history of science andtechnology that might have been taken but was not. Studentsengaged in this project develop a keen appreciation of thedifficulties in carrying out scientific inquiry, as well as extensiveknowledge about key scientific problems and the strategiesused to solve them.Students eight to twelve years-old take part in the Children inWorld Art Project. The younger ones start by picking severalperiods and cultures and browsing through the included imagesof children, working on a presentation explaining their sense ofwhat childhood would have been like in those times and places.Doing this, they begin to research the geographical andhistorical contexts and start to learn how to empathize with theirsubjects and to use contextual information to check and testtheir understandings. The older children help the younger andevaluate the set of images for redundancy and gaps, developingan acquisition search list that they can circulate to curators ofmuseums and collections that may have the sorts of imagesthey want. The project participants use the InternationalSchoolNet to find historical documents that help inform anunderstanding of the experience depicted in the images. Inaddition to extracting the representational information aboutchildhood that the images contain, the children will need torespond aesthetically and emotionally to the images, interpretingwith them something about the subjective, qualitativeexperiences that they reveal.As satellite based telescopes become more numerous, powerful,and diverse, a tremendous problem of logging all theinformation sent back will develop. As a solution to that,scientists initiate the National School Space Mapping Project.Each school recruits several teams of three students each toreceive and assess data. The scientists overseeing the projectassign to each team a small, specific quadrant of thesurrounding universe. As data comes back from its diversesources into various repositories, the International SchoolNetroutes all data pertaining to a quadrant to the team that handlesit. Each team collects and monitors the data it receives andmaintains a full descriptive and explanatory catalogue of whatappears in the observations in its quadrant. To do this the teamsneed to understand the various sorts of telescopic observationtechniques and how to apply standard astronomical andastrophysical theory to the astral population of their quadrant.Should a team receive new observations that do not fit within thestandard theories, the team will need immediately to alert itssupervising scientist. The participating students will learn a greatdeal about the content and practice of astronomy and they willRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 65. help absorb into it the wealth of new data that is beginning toflood back to earth.246¶ With such projects, the teachers role will be to oversee, tomanage, and to facilitate inquiry. To start, she will need to mobilizethe resources of the profession to set the charge and put it to herstudents. Defining the mandate for her students will be much likeplanning a course, although the particulars will differ somewhat. It willbegin by selecting a set of particulars that will put a significantintellectual problem to students. This intellectual problem should besuch that students will acquire knowledge, skill, and understandingby working to solve it. The problem needs to be put in such a waythat students can grasp it and work on it productively. For that tohappen, the teacher must ensure that the field within which she hassituated the charge has in it a genuinely open-ended range ofresources that students can use effectively to fulfill the charge.Likewise, the tools at hand for working on the problem need to beappropriate, usable, and effective. A fascinating charge situated in arich field without good tools will not lead to an effective project, forstudents will find themselves unable to exploit the materials beforethem. Similarly, a good charge and powerful tools deployed in adeficient field will not sustain interest or development. Finally, despitea well-stocked field and first-class intellectual tools, students given aweak charge, one that does not put an energizing, orienting problemto them, will not do much with either the field or their tools.247¶ Some may object that a computer-based project method suchas this seems more like the methods used at advanced universitylevels than something appropriate for elementary and secondaryschool. The observation would be correct; the inference that this shiftwould be ill advised may nevertheless be unsound. In many ways,basing education on advanced information technologies will movestrategies of college and graduate education down to lower levels.The intellectual context of advanced instruction is not the textbook,but the library and the laboratory, which in the era of print have cost agreat deal to assemble and to avail to students. The basic pedagogychallenges advanced students to inquire into the sources ofinformation and ideas through study and experiment and thenexpress their results to a public of peers. Learning occurs in three keyactivities—putting the question that generates the inquiry, selectingand evaluating materials potentially relevant to it, and expressingresults in ways that others will find clear. Young children can performthese activities. Project methods at their best will transfer thispedagogy for use with less advanced students working on morefoundational areas of inquiry.248¶ Why has a project pedagogy been primarily restricted toadvanced students? Again, the answer to this question lies, not in thenature of learning, but in the implementation constraints of theprint-based system. Does the long selective ascent to graduateschool winnow from the many those few who can uniquely learn fromopen-ended inquiry in a well-stocked library? Well-stocked librariesand well-equipped labs are very costly, and they have low carryingcapacities in the sense that only a few can use them at any time lesttheir usefulness be destroyed. While one person uses a text or labinstrument, others cannot. If, for instance, the scholar working in anacademic library too often finds that the text he needs now is in useby someone else, he will find his inquiry slowed significantly and willquickly declare the collection unfit for serious use. Academics restrictaccess to advanced intellectual tools, not to ensure that someonedoes not waste his time trying to use tools he cannot productivelyemploy, but rather to ensure that the tools will be in a productive statefor those few granted access to them. We very reasonably do not fillthe stacks of research libraries with hordes of fifth graders, notbecause the fifth graders could not learn in the process, but becauseRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 66. a rare resource of advanced scholarship would lose its usefulness forthat purpose.249¶ Access to information and ideas encoded in digital form willhave different constraints from that of print. Provided the networksleading to them have sufficient carrying capacity—and they soonwill—open access to source collections will not diminish theirusefulness for serious scholars. Whoever uses an electronic text usesan ad hoc copy, and it does not matter how many ad hoc copies arein use. All sorts of materials can go to all sorts of users withoutdevaluing the intellectual effectiveness of the work. Climate readingsfrom stations round the world will go simultaneously to the LamontGeophysical Laboratory and Miss Jones fourth grade class at PS92in Harlem and wherever else someone curious about the readingsmay be. Project pedagogy often failed in the past because studentsdid not have access to the resources needed to inquire effectively intothe questions posed to them. That is one of the great limiting factorson human inquiry, whether conducted by the young in their efforts toappropriate their culture or by the expert in their attempts to advanceit. Ptolemy got it all wrong, not because he was dumb, but becausethe observations he could study were too few and too imprecise.Access to information and ideas is opening astoundingly andeducators at every level will need to adapt their strategies to theproject method to make use of it.250¶ A second reason the project method often failed was thatyounger students lacked suitable means of expression to carry theirinquiry through to some conclusion. The cartoon stereotype of nakedchildren wiggling around the progressive schoolroom, imitating spermin search of the ovum, reduced the problem to an absurdity. Withoutadequate tools of expression, inquiry-based learning culminates in aninarticulate collapse. The digitization of our culture, however, providesgreater access, not only to information and ideas, but to tools ofexpression as well. This process is evident with what young childrencan do with word processors and desktop publishing systems, butthat is simply the leading edge of what is in store. Design tools,graphics tools, video production and post-production tools, analyticaltools of the most sophisticated sorts, all will be ordinary resources ofordinary schools. Educators will need to adapt their strategies tomake use of these as well.251¶ Furthermore, a significant shift of advanced pedagogies to moreelementary levels is not unprecedented in historical experience. In theeducational transformation of the sixteenth century, the pedagogicalactivity of the universities shifted downward to the schools much inthe way here envisioned. Prior to print, studying subjects for theirmeaning and significance was the work of the university. Havinglearned through an arduous preparation to make a dependablewritten text on hearing it read aloud, the advanced student could thenturn to reading and absorbing its significance. The work leading up tothat ensured that a student could, hearing complex ideas read aloudin Latin, transcribe them accurately. With that skill acquired, thestudent could then hear Aristotle, make the text, and discuss itsinterpretation with others. With print, Aristotle and many otherauthorities became available in inexpensive editions. Making the textceased to be the aim of preparatory education; as a result, readingand interpreting the text became a major activity much earlier in theeducational process than it had previously been. That, precisely, wasthe agenda of the newly invented Gymnasium.252¶ Of course, in the sixteenth century, many reasonable peopledoubted that the substantive study of authority could be done byyounger students, for experience had shown that it was the properconcern only of advanced students. For instance, the University ofBasel took offense at the curriculum of Thomas Platters school,because it included the interpretation of texts usually reserved to theRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 67. university. Over several years the academic authorities maneuvered torequire Platter to bring his students to the University for publicexamination, expecting to prove that his students did not understandthe subtleties of the texts he recklessly assigned. When theexaminations took place, Platters students showed a robustcomprehension and the University had to accept the idea thatyounger students could usefully study substantive content. In likemanner, as a new system of education emerges, pedagogicalconcerns hitherto associated with advanced study will becomeincreasingly important throughout earlier stages. This will have deepimplications for the profession of teaching.Improving the Conditions of Teaching253¶ Teaching in the print-based system has required skilledprofessionals. The earliest Protestant theorists of schooling pointed tothe importance of well-trained teachers, if the system were to beeffective. And the need has been constant since then. Nevertheless,the conditions of educational work within the print-based system havehad significant deficiencies. Teaching a set curriculum with set textstends to be highly repetitive, year to year, and teachers often findtheir work routinized. They cannot do much beyond the text and aftera few times through, the text becomes a familiar locale that ceases tochallenge their imaginations. This is the basic process of routinization,too often evident in the career of teaching.254¶ Allied to routinization is deskilling, which is a kind of routinizationthat happens, not as a by-product, but as the purposeful result ofpolicy. When work requires higher levels of skill than the averageworker may possess, managers have often tried to simplify the job,believing simplification to be a more economical way to match job withskill than it would be to improve the skills of the worker. Complextasks once performed somewhat unpredictably by high-paid skilledartisans were analyzed into component steps that anyone, followinginstructions, could passably perform. Unskilled workers replaced theartisans with the process tightly managed according to the principlesof Frederick Winslow Taylor, and the output became predictable andthe production costs minimal. Curriculum developers have sometimesused these techniques to seek a "teacher-proof" curriculum, hopingthereby to better guarantee results and to get by with lower pay forless-skilled teachers. In many industrial walks, such processes havereduced numerous artisans to mere machine-tenders, mindlesslyrepeating dumb tasks as products wend toward completion along theline.255¶ An industrial system that achieves production efficiencies bysteadily lowering the skill requirements in many forms of work overseveral generations can find itself in trouble should the skillrequirements of work suddenly increase. Advanced technologies inthe work place have caused precisely this shift in recent decades. Infactory and office, deskilling jobs had made much work diseducative.And educational preparation for work in such jobs put a premium onrote learning and routinized teaching in the "factory school" wherestudents were primarily acculturated through drill and practice tofollow instructions with uncomprehending accuracy.256¶ Increasingly, high technology reverses the polarity on the skillneeds of labor in the industrial and service sectors. Machine-tendingjobs, performing a single task according to a prescribed manner in acomplex division of labor, are growing scarcer. Process-managingwork, controlling a complex system by monitoring information aboutthe condition of its parts, has become more prevalent. In them, amindless mistake can prove most costly. This shift in polarity carriesall the way through the educational enterprise. Learning to learn andcritical thinking are fast becoming important educational results, notonly for the most successful, but for all who go through the system.In such a situation, the demand arises for more highly skilled, fullyRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 68. engaged teachers. Hence it is becoming socially important, not tosimplify instruction so that any teacher, no matter how unskilled, canmake it work provided he follows instructions, but to structure it sothat the teacher will continually develop his skills, growing more andmore adept with more and more experience.257¶ As heuristic guides, nurturing the work of inquiry groups, usingpowerful intellectual tools in complex fields of information, thechallenges on teachers will be great. It is tempting to object that theordinary teachers will not be well-prepared to perform this role. Thespan of pedagogical possibility is not fixed forever for teachers, anymore than it is for students. How a teacher develops over the courseof her career, managing teams of students working with advancedtools of scholarship in open-ended fields of inquiry, may be verydifferent from the way she develops instructing five classes of eighth-graders, year after year, in a set survey of ancient history. Thepedagogical shift making advanced methods appropriate at earlierlevels will affect teachers as well, making the content of their workmore like that of the college professor. Not only will the educativeeffects of the work itself be different, but with that change, peopleattracted by the work to the career may alter in ways currently difficultto predict. For better or for worse, work shapes the worker far morethan the worker shapes the work. If a new system of educationbecomes structurally possible, teachers will adapt to its conditions,which, fortuitously, seem expansive and humane.258¶ Changes in these areas—in the organization of time and space,in motivational strategies, in the presentation of the culture, in thepedagogies guiding its study, and in the character of the teachingprofession—will arise, not as a causal sequence, but as a set ofreciprocal interactions. The secret of historical initiative, of voluntaryaction, lies in this reciprocity—we can initiate change anywhere withinit and once started the changes will propagate interactively aroundthe system. Nevertheless, one needs some sort of starting point, away to begin. What might be a good way to initiate changes that canreciprocally reinforce themselves and spread through the system,transforming it all around?298 Consider as a possibility the potentialsof computer networking. Networks are essential components of thecomputer as a system. They are developing rapidly in power; they areproliferating, squirming wires quickly wrapping the globe in a pulsingmesh of messages. Telephones, television, and computers are fusingtogether in ways that can pervade the schools and provoke keychanges in them. Advanced networks can trigger changes in theenvironment, motivation, cultural organization, educational method,and the teaching profession in ways that will reciprocally propagate.259¶ Lets look briefly at how networks can influence each of theseareas. No one domain will come first; rather they will all come at once,each reinforcing the others.If the entire school plant of the nation had to be rebuilt in orderto accommodate alternative groupings in time and space,thorough-going change would be impossible. But networks willmake possible the "virtual rebuilding" of everyday schools.Networks will enable computer-based work groups to functionwell without being together in space and time. Sub-groups indifferent classrooms will link together electronically and functionas a unit. E-mail, voice-mail, and video-mail will give a measureof interpersonal immediacy to the collaboration. Currentstructures that seem to rigidly impose set routines will becomesites of great flexibility, if effectively networked.Networks will greatly facilitate collaborative activities amongstudents working on projects. Asynchronous communicationimproves the ability of people to work together without loosingtheir autonomy. Networks further ease the sharing andRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 69. managing of common information and ideas. Students canmanage the logistics of cooperation more effectively andnetworks will help them work together to interpret mutualresults.Networking is, of course, fundamental in achieving the curricularcondition where all cultural contents and pedagogical resourcesare accessible to all students and all teachers all the time.Networking, however, is not only a necessary condition forbringing this condition about; it may more interestingly be asufficient condition—in a well-networked school, all academicresources will be available to all at all times unless authoritiesimpose access restrictions to prevent it. Thus, should powerfulnetworks proliferate into schools, very probably the informationbase for the cumulative curriculum will be in place, whether ornot the managers of those schools intended to construct it.Intensive networking of schools will encourage a shift ineducational strategy towards the project method. One canimagine using a network as an infrastructure for group recitation,and there will surely be times when such uses of it will beimportant and valuable. But networks are switching systems thatdo not particularly conduce to actions in unison, but ratherfacilitate branching out and linking by people who are doingdifferent things while working together on a shared project.Powerful networks that give lots of people access to lots ofresources will sprout projects spontaneously—interest groupson this and that—and educators will scamper to capitalize onthese spontaneous energies by shifting instructional emphasismore and more to a project method.Networking, in and between schools, will also shift theprofessional ethos in teaching away from routinization. Teachingis now rarely a highly collegial profession because the structureof the curriculum and the classroom tend to seal teachers offfrom intensive interaction with their peers. Networks will helpteachers collaborate with each other, within the on-going flow ofdaily activity, much more than they do now, to pool classes, toshare problems and techniques, to develop specialcompetencies and interests, and to refer students with specificneeds and concerns to each other for help. Networks will allowteachers to work together through the walls of their separateclassrooms and across the periods of their schedule.260¶ In these ways, introducing powerful networks, and all theassociated computing resources that might come with them, canforcefully prod the system to change. But can the polity rouse itself toinitiate such investments? To what degree would the public sustainthe costs of such efforts? We turn, thus, to our concluding question,what civic agenda for education will best actualize the pedagogicalpotentials of digital technologies?Chapter Six - Education and the Civic Agenda261¶ Computer-based schools and the cumulative curriculum willcost money. In order to construct a technology-based educationalsystem, the level and structure of educational expenditures mustchange. Let us estimate some numbers.262¶ Currently, kindergarten through twelfth grade, spending forinstructional materials per pupil amounts to a small fraction of thetotal. Most goes instead for salaries of teachers and staff. With aheavy infusion of technology, educational costs for salaries, plant,and the like will probably not decline. Assume that technology makesit possible to have fewer teachers, a questionable assumption: thelevel of the teachers average salary would likely rise proportionately,keeping labor-related costs even. Hence to implement atechnology-based educational system, we should expect totalRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 70. per-pupil costs to increase significantly, with a big rise in spending forinstructional materials and equipment. "Other expenditures forinstruction," a mix of many things, now amount to a bit over 9 percentof expenditures per pupil, and of these, about 2.5 percent, onaverage less than $100 per pupil per year, go for instructionalsupplies such as textbooks, library books, and instructionalresources.263¶ Assume that special investments saturate the schools withtechnology. This saturation will require a computer notepad for eachstudent with wireless network link; a high-function workstation forevery four students; a substantial infrastructure of servers,networking, teachers workstations, and special displays; and asignificant complement of software and digitized contents. We cannotpredict exactly what these will cost as the technology matures. Costsof $2,000 in each of the four categories, amounting to a per-pupiltechnology investment of $8,000, would probably be high. Costs of$750 in each, a total of $3,000, would probably be low. Accountantswill treat this investment as property with a five-year useful life. Forparts of the investment, the actual life might be shorter, owing both tointensity of use and rapidity of obsolescence. The upshot is anannual, per-pupil technology cost between $600 and $2,500, mostlikely, let us guess, around $1,250, which, when added to currentexpenditures, would increase per pupil costs about one-quarter overcurrent levels. This increase is sufficiently large to require acompelling public justification.264¶ Having to develop powerful justifications for substantialincreases in educational expenditures is not a novel challenge.Universal, compulsory school systems evolved as nations foundreason to devote increasing percentages of their GNPs to such costlyinstructional efforts. Over the past five hundred years, educating theperson and the public has never become more efficient, providingequivalent or increased output for substantially less input. Rather ithas become more important, more valued, with parents and politiesdeciding that increased educational results are worth increased costs.Great educational activists like Horace Mann and Henry Barnardproceeded by developing a civic consensus to increase the level ofeducational expenditure and effort. In precisely this way, policyjustifications for a computer-based educational system will need toconvince the public that the increased costs bring benefits that justifythe added expenditures.265¶ To justify increased educational effort we need to arousepassion and commitment; we need a will to believe. Prissy punditsfind it easy, retrospectively, to disclose the interplay of self-interestwithin transforming movements, but prissy pundits rarely workchange in their own world. To build the existing educational system,many people had to act counter to their narrowest self-interests.Educational reformers needed both stratagems to rationalizeparticipation along with visions to inspire it. In building a neweducational system, we cannot demand purity of purpose, but wemust call for greatness of vision, for the changes needed will entail farmore than simple readjustments of existing efforts. To institute a newsystem of education, educators will need to marshal large argumentsof broad public purpose. To do that, leaders will need to excitepedagogical passion, to articulate an educational vision, to risk failurefor the sake of a novel, untested, yet moving future, for an educativepolity.266¶ To change the pedagogical world, educators need both materialagency and humane vision, both power and pedagogy. To change theworld, people need reasons to take risks, to incur resistance andhazard failure. They need forceful agencies with which to stakesuccess, to grasp the opportunities for action that their vision availsthem. New agencies will be at hand with the development ofRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 71. computer-based education. To what degree can we provide ourselveswith the historic vision that will enable us to put this power toworthwhile use? What reasons do we have for taking the educationalrisks inherent in the pursuit of fundamental change? As Poor Richardsaid, "would you persuade, speak of interest, not of reason." Inlooking for these reasons, let us speak first to interests, then we canturn second to established civic goals and third to novel aspirations.267¶ In diverse ways increased educational expenditures can bringsubstantial offsetting benefits. Broadly speaking these benefits are oftwo kinds. One consists of improvements in well-being that resultfrom educational success. Throughout the population, a bettereducation translates, to some degree, into increased productivity anda greater ability, personal and public, to capitalize on opportunities forbettering the quality of life. The other kind of benefit consists ofsavings accrued by reducing the mounting costs, public and private,that result from educational failure. Costs of crime, unemployment,even aspects of health may be considered, to some degree, as costsincurred because the educations many receive are insufficient toprepare them to deal with the world they inhabit. Less educationalfailure would lower the cost of coping with calamities. Let us look atthe costs of failure more closely, and then return to the improvementsthat educational success can bring.268¶ Resist at the outset the parsimonious effort to put the wholeburden of social policy on educational reform. Much educationalfailure is not a failure of education. Many problems in schools are notproblems of schools. Hungry children, the tired, the sick, thebrutalized, the frightened, the homeless: they will not succeed, onaverage, in any school. Despairing, disillusioned youths, whether richor poor, will see no reason to develop their abilities. Without realleadership and without social policies that address the extracurricularcauses of educational failure, large-scale educational reform can be acruel hoax for the disadvantaged. The schools fail them, first, forreasons that are extrinsic to education and improving the educationalefforts, without addressing the extrinsic problems, will benefit thedisadvantaged little. In effect, educational reform without strong socialpolicies will improve institutions that work best for the children of themiddle and upper classes, while leaving in place a system ofcausalities that make the schools work poorly for the poor.269¶ Resist likewise, however, the short-sighted effort to put thewhole burden of educational reform on social policy. Mucheducational failure is a failure of education, and many problems inschools are indeed problems of schools. Intensive use of educationaltechnology can make schools more effective for all and more effectiveespecially for those currently floundering in our print-basededucational system. If we are serious about social betterment througheducation, we will not finance educational reform by diverting intoeducation expenditures needed for other social services.270¶ Assuming decent policies in those other social services andeffective school reform, however, reducing the failure andinsufficiency of education could eventually lead to significant costsavings to society. Jail is expensive. Welfare dependency costs asubstantial amount and it withdraws talent and energy from the workplace. Long-term joblessness keeps the economy in a state of under-employment and may slacken incentives to innovation. If, overdecades, the frequency of failure and under-achievement in theeducational system can be diminished significantly, then it would bereasonable to expect these large social costs to be substantially lessthan they would otherwise be.271¶ Likewise, positive benefits from improved education would ariseover the long-term as better performance affects relative nationaladvantage and fundamental economic prospects. In the late 1950sRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 72. the pursuit of relative national advantage through education resultedin the National Defense Education Act. Now the quest for militarypreparedness is giving way to the problems of remaining competitivein a global economy. A fully developed computer-based educationalsystem can have three types of significant effect on the over-allcompetitiveness of the American productive enterprise.First, insofar as the computer-based system is substantiallymore effective than the print-based system, the general level ofAmerican preparation for productive effort within aknowledge-based economy will rise.Second, insofar as the economy itself is increasingly acomputer-based system, a computer-based educationalexperience would align more effectively with the skills needed inthe job market than a print-based experience would, even if theabsolute level of attainments through the former were notsignificantly better than they are through the latter. At least thestudent would be acculturated to the significant tools needed inthe work place.Third, insofar as the organization of work in advanced sectors ofthe economy places a greater premium on persons abilities tofunction cooperatively in groups, a computer-based educationalsystem that substantially extended opportunities for cooperativelearning would better prepare students for working together inways that the economy needed than the competition-proneprint-based system would. We can hypothesize that all thesebenefits would develop with a shift to an intensive use ofinformation technologies in education. Their aggregate effectscould be considerable on the economic well-being of personsand the public.272¶ It would be premature, however, to estimate from currentexperience how the educational transformation would increaseproduction and save on social costs, or to attach precise dollarbenefits to them. Large-scale structural changes in education will taketen to twenty years to develop and introduce. Their benefits willaccrue over the ensuing decades, becoming fully evident only in themid-twenty-first century. It is like planting oak trees—our children andtheir children will be the beneficiaries. Is it worthwhile to takeexpensive initiatives, when their outcome will long be uncertain?273¶ Consider the wager. If substantial improvements in educationcan be wrought, their long-term future benefits will be great. If theycannot be achieved, the long-term future consequences may beserious, driving a wedge of inequality deeper and deeper into society,separating those that the educational system benefits further andfurther from those that it fails. The opportunity to improve educationthrough investment in digital technology is quite new. Conditions areripe for reaping a high payoff. Since no society presently spendsmuch for educational technology, added investment in it is unlikely toencounter the law of diminishing returns for a significant time. Hence,spending on educational technology would seem to be thereasonable bet for substantially improving education, but to take therisk out of the calculation, to convert the bet into a certain benefit,would require that we claim more than we can presently justify.274¶ When all is said and done, rational calculations of advantageassociated with major innovations are wagers, fraught with unknowns.Retrospectively, the highly successful innovations seem to have beensure things, but prospectively they were not. Entrepreneurial andtechnological vision consists in acting wisely yet decisively in the faceof uncertainty. Why take the risk? In this case, the risk may be worthtaking for multiple reasons. Chances are good that indeed thepractical consequences of the effort will be highly beneficial.Additionally, the social and human effects of the changes may beRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 73. both significant and desirable. We turn to the second set of reasonsjustifying the risks of innovation: intensive use of technology ineducation may lead toward fulfillment of established civic goals.275¶ Although the agenda of freedom has taken great strides inrecent history, that of equality has not. Each year during the 1980sthe percentage of Americans living below the poverty level was higherthan in any year during the 1970s. Significant portions of thepopulation are addicted, nearly unemployable. Uncounted familiescling to survival—homeless people hawking Street News, begging,and scamming, and groveling through the refuse of the middle classfor cans and bottles redeemable for a nickel each. Many, prideful onhaving made it, blame social failure on the failings of those who sufferthe failure, and espouse social policies designed primarily to helpthose already adept at helping themselves. In our willingness to bailout bankers who mismanaged the savings of the middle class whilewe cut back on programs to serve those most in need, we poorlyrepresent the centuries of humanitarian progressivism that hasanimated our traditions. Pascal put it well: "we do not displaygreatness by going to one extreme, but in touching both at once, andfilling all the intervening space." Freedom without equality does notsum to greatness: the agenda of equality requires renewed civiceffort.276¶ Educationally the agenda of equality appear in the prevalenceof drugs, dropping-out, and the difficulty of making schools work inareas of chronic urban and rural poverty. These are big problems andthey will require complex solutions. Substantial issues of distributivejustice complicate these problems, but they do not inhere simply inthe unjust allocation of resources. Pedagogically, the problem is oneof recognition, a feeling of control over ones own education.Regardless of race, class, gender, religion, or ethnicity, each childshould have an equal opportunity to participate in a school that heperceives as an institution that has been designed specifically for him,that serves him, that is his own. If the school appears as a hostilepower to the youth, he will see it, not as a resource, but as a threat tobe neutralized. School choice may help diminish the prevalence ofthis situation, but choice between schools may not be as significantas engaging options within schools. Those who feel school now to bealien influences may simply use school choice as a new opportunityto neutralize the threat.277¶ Unfortunately, the current system of schooling is part of thecycle of causality, not a means of breaking it. Interpreters of theeducation system tend to be people who have done well within it.They experienced schooling as a happy system for self-developmentand self-advancement. Interpreters often therefore have difficultyseeing how the experience of the less successful was fundamentallydifferent: for many others, the same system functions as a powerfulsocial sorting mechanism, frustrating their self-development andreinforcing their disempowered status. They experience schooling asa system by which the society at large, even they themselves,legitimate their impoverished prospects. Choosing the "wrong" schoolwill continue to work this way. To counter the causalities of inequality,choice is essential in education, but within schools, not betweenthem. A computer-based system of education may help break thecycles holding the truly disempowered in thrall by creating threeforms of significant choice within schools, which they and everyoneelse, can use to good advantage.278¶ First, the way the current system handles subject-matter isinvidious. Size constraints on textbooks require that a very limitedselection of ideas and information be packaged together. Thematerials chosen become, ipso facto, sanctioned by inclusion in thestandard texts and tests. The result will harmonize with theexperience of some children and be at odds with that of others; someRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 74. will find more with which they can identify emotionally, and othersless. Interest groups realize that what the selection includes andexcludes has import, good and bad, for their interests. However, sincetextbooks have a seriously limited scope, the politics of textdevelopment has been a contest to exclude any particulars that mayoffend some articulate sensibility. Increasingly, such efforts to excludeall possible cultural bias tend simply to render the curriculumpedagogically impotent for all.279¶ In contrast, computer-based curricula can be comprehensiveand inclusive. The politics of a computer-based system has thepossibility of opening the narrow confines of the standard curriculumto genuine multicultural possibilities. With the new system, the politicsof curricular development will cease to be exclusionary, becominginstead a many-sided effort to ensure that what may empower this orthat interest finds its place within the spacious system. In acomputer-based system, diverse racial and ethnic groups should jointo develop multicultural curricula through which high levels ofdisciplinary mastery can be achieved along numerous paths ofinterest and inspiration.280¶ Second, reliance on printed sources in the current educationalsystem provides a narrow access-path to the power of knowledge.Those who experience the existing system as disabling do not do wellwith book learning. To be sure, in theory the system offers themvocational tracks, which put greater stress on learning to makeproductive use of hand and body. But these tracks have a stigmaassociated with them because everyone knows that in a print-basedculture the only real access to knowledge is through verbal facility: nomatter how manually skilled one becomes without high levels ofverbal knowledge one will be held mentally second-rate. Insofar as acomputer-based system can complement the verbalization of printmedia with the multi-modal powers of electronic media, multipleaccess paths for acquiring and manifesting mental excellence willopen. This will not do away with distinctions between people withrespect to intelligence and intellect, but it can broaden the existingstructure of intellectual opportunity.281¶ Third, the way the existing system motivates educational effortthrough pervasive competition creates a sorting mechanism thatdeprives disempowered groups of their more able members. Thosewho succeed in the competitive assent often assimilate to thedominant elites. Imagine an educational system that did a better jobat fully developing the potentialities of each person while lesseffectively grouping and sorting the members of age-cohortsaccording to their performance on a narrow set of mandarinacquirements. Such a system would be a very different response tothe Jeffersonian idea that talents distribute randomly through apopulation. Rather than co-opting those talents to the service ofpower and privilege, it would preserve those talents in their randomdistribution, leavening the whole through a multiplicity of communalexcellences. By putting a premium on cooperative learning and byoffering a multicultural curriculum with many paths to mastery withinit, a computer-based educational system can function in this moregenuinely Jeffersonian manner.282¶ Here, we should shift attention from established civic goals tothe third set of reasons for incurring educational risks, thoseconcerning novel aspirations. Truly significant change in educationmay have the potential to redefine the polity itself. If the computer asa system constitutes a fundamental shift in cultural communication,then we should expect concomitantly a significant re-definition ofcontrolling purposes. Values have an historical relativity, withoutbecoming arbitrary and meaningless, without being "relativistic" in thepejorative sense. At any time and place, the given historic context ismandatory, and it entails the importance and validity of some valuesRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 75. and the irrelevance and wrongness of others. But across time andplace, the given historic contexts change, and with those changesthere follow changes in the values that compel allegiance. Politics ina digitized culture may differ in significant ways from the politics in aprint culture. As Aristotle observed, "the end of the state is not merelife; it is, rather, a good quality of life." As the contexts change and wecome to inhabit a fully digitized culture, we may find ourselvesobliged to define "a good quality of life" differently than we did before.283¶ Soon the ethos of "More!" must give way to an ethic of"Enough." As that happens, problems of public purpose will remain,but they will undergo revaluations. In the era of print, those justifyingthe support of education have contended that schooling is a useful,efficient means for achieving publicly sanctioned ends. For the pastfew centuries, those publicly sanctioned ends have often beenvariations on "More!"—more power, more wealth, more influence,more adherents, more law and order, more consumption, moregarbage too. What good did the print-based system serve as itmobilized competitive energies, distributed broadly a level of literateskills through the population, and sorted the young effectivelyaccording to the quality of their performance within the system? Itserved best as a means in the pursuit of "More!" It energizedexpansion and legitimated the allocation of less to those who faredpoorly in the schools. Would the print-based system serve well insupport of an ethic of "Enough"? A system that relied on cooperativelearning, one that could attract participation in educationalself-development, not as a means but as an end itself, one thatenhanced a students quality of life, her bonds with others, hershared experiences of personal meaning, would be an education welladapted to the ethic of "Enough."284¶ A competitive ethos of "More!" can take hold among peoplewhen they feel they can safely compete for possession of finite,limited goods. Where the competitors become aware that thecompetition is fundamentally unsafe and unstable they withdraw fromthe unbridled continuation of it. In the late twentieth century, theage-long competitions for national advantage, pursued through thepursuit of more population, more armaments, more material output,has become increasingly unsafe and unstable as armaments becometoo destructive to use, populations too large to feed and nurture, andmaterial output exhausts natural resources and threatens todestabilize world climates and ecologies. A thoroughly cooperativeeducation can lead to a thoroughly cooperative society in whichpeople realize that a good quality of life depends, not on standinghigher in the hierarchy of advantages, but on all joining together torealize their common potentials. It leads to an ethos, not ofcomparative advantage, but of mutual support.285¶ Unlike the various forms of advantage, which are finite andrelative, education is not a limited good. More education for one neednot mean less for another. This unlimited quality will especiallycharacterize education in a computer-based system, for the dynamicsof digitization allow unlimited instances of works and resourceswithout diminishing the originals. In such a situation, education canbe a public purpose, one pursued by each and all, without provokinga limiting competition, without one person being pitted against theother. Taken as a means to relative advantage, people have aninterest in acquiring learning and withholding it from others. But takenas an end in itself, a controlling definition of "a good quality of life,"education gives people an unbound mutual interest—the educationalattainments of others enrich the educational possibilities that I enjoy.286¶ An educative polity will be a polity adapted to a world of finitematerial resources. An educative polity will be one with infinitespiritual resources, one in which the unlimited potentialities of thehuman spirit provide the endless frontier. As Heraclitus said long ago,Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 76. "You could not in your going find the ends of the soul, though youtraveled the whole way; so deep is its Logos!"287¶ A computer-based educational system is not the only possiblebasis for an educative polity, but insofar as it can supplant competitiveeducational motivations with cooperative ones, and insofar as it cangenuinely broaden educational opportunity by opening multiplechannels to knowledge, it will facilitate the emergence of one. Thecomputer as a system will make all educative resources available toall people at all times, and it will greatly expand the scope andsubstance of those materials. In those conditions, education ceasesto be mere a means to extrinsic ends and becomes an end itself. Withthose conditions, power and pedagogy may join to redefine politicalpurpose, making education its central aim, the object of the good life.The stakes are worth the risk.Appendix - Device Independent Referencing288¶ Interactivity is the ballyhoo of hypertext. Its theorists decry thelinearity of the printed book. They do so thoughtlessly, and therebymiss both the problem and the opportunity. Books are highlyinteractive tools. Moreover, as interactive tools they are even veryefficient. Despite this interactive characteristic of books, many printedtexts are "linear," meaning they have a beginning, middle, and end.This sequentiality, which writers carefully compose and readersusually follow in a full reading, is an attribute of the text, not the book.The reason many texts are linear has nothing to do with thetechnology of print.289¶ A book as a technological artifact is highly interactive andnon-linear. Grab one and you can flop it open in the middle, skiparound, and thumb through its pages forwards or backwards. Youcan consult it in all sorts of odd sequences and quite often you do.With the index, a 500 year-old tool, you can hop around from topic totopic, nearly instantaneously. Publishers have long designeddictionaries, directories, and encyclopedias specifically for nonlinearaccess, and reference books work well. Our fingers quite naturallyapply enhanced binary-search algorithms on such volumes as welook an entry up. Books have little in their structure that is inherentlylinear.290¶ Why then do we decry, with a seeming plausibility, the linearityof books? The answer is simple—the text in most books is linearbecause writers and readers have chosen linear presentation, overthe years, despite technical freedom to do otherwise. Proponents ofhypertext should pay close attention to this fact. Encyclopedias areinteractive documents. Writers craft entries for them assuming nocontinuity with what lies before and after. They include numerouscross references, links in the jargon of hypermedia. They are mostuseful works, but rarely do they hold us spell-bound by the suspenseof the tale or the force of the argument. Good writing of many types islinear, not by technological necessity, but by the nature of thediscourse.291¶ Interactivity is not the special purview of text on-line. Linearity isnot the curse of printed text. All books, as such, are interactive; sometexts are interactive, when people specially design them for thatpurpose. Technological constraints do not determine the interactivityof such texts. No book is inherently linear, unless one were to tracethe book back to its predecessor the scroll, and readers could evenwork scrolls interactively, back and forth. Many texts are linearbecause writers make them so, linking each paragraph to itspredecessor with lineaments of artful diction, logic, and narrativetension. Thus, as with interactive texts, technological limitations donot cause texts to be linear. Quite the contrary, their linearity is atriumph of linguistic artifice over technologic artifact.292¶ Such reflections suggest that we should rethink the hype aboutRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 77. hypertext. If text on-line is to develop and flourish, it will probablyrecapitulate many virtues of printed text, especially those that writersand readers have imbued in text despite technological invitations toshape the work differently. One of those virtues is intelligiblesequence, narrative form, compelling argument.293¶ This virtue pertains, not only to text, but to other media as well.Most examples of video-oriented hypermedia seem sophomoric forthey consist of brief, flashy clips, designed apart to stand alone. Theemotional power of media lies largely in their cumulative effects, builtsequentially over time. To randomize the shots of a great filmdissolves it into meaningless sights, just as randomizing the notes ofa symphony would turn it into cacophonous sounds. Those who areinterested in using computers to communicate culture and ideas needto develop command, not only of interactivity, but also sequentialityand form.294¶ As theorists of hypertext over-emphasize interactivity, so too theyexaggerate the divide between text in-print and on-line. Few can anylonger participate actively in contemporary culture without usingdigital information technologies, and fewer still can do so withrecourse exclusively to those tools. For several generations, printedtext will co-exist with electronic text. The crucial question is not whenthe latter will displace the former, but how the two can work mosteffectively together.295¶ Readers will work with text both in print and on-line for manyyears to come. Currently they do so with a strange gulf between thetwo forms of presentation. Electronic information technology has hadlittle effect on the conventions of print presentation. A well-designedbook often has the same appearance it did several centuries ago.Readers of printed materials still use the conventions developed longbefore electronic technology. The few recent innovations inconventions, for instance APA citations, predate digital technologies.As we will argue, this situation should change, but for now computershave had no influence on the presentation of text in print.296¶ Since printed text has not changed, users of on-line text face anannoying situation. To work with text on-line, they must either importthe old conventions of print awkwardly into the new medium or theymust struggle with new conventions of hypertext that are too oftenunpredictable and ineffective. Hypertext conventions simply do notintersect well with print conventions. The information that can lead areader to a passage in print may not help get her to the samepassage on-line, even if it exists in that form. Likewise, encountering atext on-line often leaves the reader with scant clues about how to findit in print. We need to change this situation.297¶ Print conventions harbor anomalies that were trivial as long asprint was the sole medium of presentation. With print, presentationpertains partly to text and partly to the paper page. As theconventions of print developed, for the most part they soundlyintegrated text and page layout. Things pertaining to text receivedappropriate textual conventions—chapter and section breaks,paragraphing, sentence punctuation, spacing to visually separatewords, footnoting and the like. Things pertaining to the page receivedpage conventions—page margins, running heads, text justification,and so on. A few things got confused, with textual concerns metthrough page conventions, the most significant of which involvespagination.298¶ Page numbers are attributes of book layout that have nothingintegral to do with the text. Yet, since the early conventions ofprinting, readers and writers habitually use them to indicate locationsin a text. As scholars increasingly work with text both in print andon-line, this anomaly becomes more and more problematic.299¶ Quite apart from electronics, any serious user of printed textsRobbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03
  • 78. has at one time or another encountered the basic problem. In thecritical essay you are reading, the author cites something interesting;you have the book on your shelf; oops, your edition is not the one theauthor cited. The page references do not work and you are leftthumbing in frustrated hope that you can chance upon the cited text.The problem is simple: page references do not really addresslocations in a text, even though we habitually use them for thatpurpose. That is the basic confusion and its consequences aresubstantial.300¶ Pages, and page numbers, are attributes of books, not the textspresented in books. Page numbers in texts are a major inconveniencein an environment in which readers will work with text both in printand on-line. Citations and quotations rely for the most part onelements of the text—author, title, chapter divisions, the words of thetext itself. A crucial part of the citation—the actual location of thematerial cited—depends on the edition, not the text, for we use pagenumbers to address locations in the text. With a few great works ofreligion, literature, and thought, standard page references havebecome established—Plato, Republic, 492b, will take one to a keypassage for understanding its educational theory regardless ofedition. But the great majority of citations are edition dependentbecause we use pagination, unique to each edition, to specify thelocation in a text.301¶ A simple alternative will assign each paragraph in a text asequential number. —Unlike the page number, the paragraphnumber is an attribute of the text and it will be thoroughly device andedition independent. With such numbering, a citation need give onlyauthor, title, and paragraph number. The citation should work for allversions of the text, whether it is in print or on-line, a first edition or anexcerpted reprint. The technique is simple: a sequential numberbecomes an attribute of each paragraph and pagination drops fromuse. "Paragraph," of course, can broaden its base significancebeyond written text here, referring, in addition to a distinct unit ofthought in writing, to an image or composition in graphics, asequence in animation, a shot in video, and a phrase in music.Creators should number their "paragraphs," whatever the medium.Power and Pedagogy prototypes these techniques.302¶ Device independent referencing will benefit readers, whetherthey use printed or electronic texts. Most serious readers now haveaccess to a computer and a good printer. With these tools, thedichotomy between printed and electronic media should breakdown.We talk about "printed books," but really what we mean by printedbooks are "pre-printed books." Before they are read, before they aresold, before they are even published and distributed, books getprinted in quantity, usually with the full press run bound as well. Thisconsumes much paper and labor, requiring substantial capital, and itcreates bulk, costly to inventory and to ship, and then to shelve inbookstores and libraries. A significant portion of the cost of booksarises from the practice of pre-printing them.303¶ With device independent referencing, publishers can distributebooks electronically via networks and disks, and readers can printthose books and parts of books that they want to have in hard copy,in a form that suits their needs—large type for one, big margins foranother, even a synthesized audio reading for a third. With deviceindependent referencing, each can cite the text in a way that workseasily and accurately for all. Best of all, for those willing to work withelectronic text, device independent referencing will enable readers toexecute hyperlinks across complex networks without needing to knowmuch about the location or format of the work they seek.Robbie McClintock in the Reflective Commons of 78 31-05-2013 20:03