Larry Cuban writes in his latest blog on “Paradoxes of Efficiency in Education “:
In applying Baumol’s Cost Disease to education, additional paradoxes of efficiency turn up, for example, around class size and applying technologies to teaching and learning.
In the quest to make teaching and learning faster and better, a wealth of technological devices and software have been mobilized and put into classrooms. In the name of efficiency and effectiveness, current students have far more access to technologies than students 35 years ago when they were initially introduced. Yet test scores and other measures of academic achievement have not climbed as more machines and software have spread through U.S. classrooms. Nor have the amounts of money being spent on these new technologies decreased as they have become ubiquitous. Another instance of the quest for efficient teaching and learning leading to inefficiency.
Introducing an innovation to increase efficiency ending up with more inefficiency is a paradox. Most obviously, it occurs in transportation: fuel efficient cars that get more miles per gallon of gas than before end up multiplying demand for more such vehicles putting more cars on roads spouting gases into the air. And in medicine–see Part 1. Such paradoxes of efficiency occur as well in education.
Are there jobs in which there are few gains in productivity–that is, workers produce more at less cost–yet wages of these “unproductive” workers rise over time. None?
Think of a string quartet playing to a live audience 300 years ago. The number of musicians and the time they needed to play a Beethoven sonata in the late 18th century haven’t changed, yet today’s quartets playing the same sonata in the same amount of time make far more than those four musicians centuries ago. Why…
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