Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice

Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice Change Without Reform in American Education

Larry Cuban
Pub. Date: March 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-558-9
paper, 280 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-556-5
Price: $34.00

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2015 Outstanding Book Award, Association for Educational Communications & Technology (AECT)

A book that explores the problematic connection between education policy and practice while pointing in the direction of a more fruitful relationship, Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice is a provocative culminating statement from one of America’s most insightful education scholars and leaders.


For forty years, Larry Cuban has been a voice of thoughtful analysis amid the overwrought rhetoric of American education reform. His distinctive contribution—updated, deepened, and extended in this book—has been to focus our attention on the persistent gap between the misconceptions of policy elites and the realities of daily practice in the classroom. One hopes that the next generation of American educators will learn the essential lessons of Cuban’s analysis more deeply than the current generation. Young people considering a career in education should hold the lessons of this book close to their hearts. — Richard F. Elmore, Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Larry Cuban’s well-written book convincingly demonstrates why current education reforms don’t work, can’t work, and won’t work. — Diane Ravitch, research professor of education, New York University

Anyone with a deep interest in public schools should read Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice. Cuban takes the reader through the history of earnest efforts to improve our schools—through technology, structural reforms, and accountability systems—and shows why they have met with mixed and often disappointing results. His recommendations for us are both cautionary and hopeful, and always respectful of the dilemmas that teachers face each day they walk through the classroom door. — Gary Yee, board director, District Four, Oakland Unified School District, and retired vice chancellor, Educational Services, Peralta Community College District

Timely and thoughtful, Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice would be a marvelous work for introductory and seminar classes or any level in between. — S.T. Schroth, Choice Magazine

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About the Author

Larry Cuban is professor emeritus of education at Stanford University. He has taught courses in the methods of teaching social studies; the history of school reform, curriculum, and instruction; and leadership.

His background in the field of education prior to becoming a professor included fourteen years of teaching high school social studies in big-city schools, directing a teacher education program that prepared returning Peace Corps volunteers to teach in inner-city schools, and serving seven years as a district superintendent.

His most recent books are As Good As It Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin (2010); Hugging the Middle: How Teachers Teach in an Era of Testing and Accountability (2009); Partners in Literacy (with Sondra Cuban, 2007); Against the Odds: Insights from One District’s Small School Reform (coauthor, 2010); and Cutting Through The Hype: The Essential Guide to School Reform (with Jane David, 2010).

E-book available through online booksellers

Table of Contents

Other books in School Reform, General

A Dream Defaulted

Jason N. Houle and Fenaba R. Addo, Foreword by Ayanna Pressley

Other books in School Reform, General

Race and Culturally Responsive Inquiry in Education

Edited by Stafford L. Hood, Henry T. Frierson, Rodney K. Hopson, and Keena N. Arbuthnot

Other books in School Reform, General

Equality or Equity

Jeffrey M. R. Duncan-Andrade