Larry Cuban is a Professor Emeritus of Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. He's also a former Stanford GSE student. He's had a long history in and out of the American education system, as a teacher, superintendent, and professor. He is a past president of the American Educational Research Association and a widely published author. He's now 82 and he still posts regularly on his own blog.
I've been assigned to read two of his books this term for two different classes: Tinkering Toward Utopia, a classic on the history of education reform in America (that he wrote with his mentor and friend David Tyack), and The Managerial Imperative and the Practice of Leadership in Schools, a book assigned in my Leading U.S. Schools class.
There's a chapter in the middle of The Managerial Imperative about Cuban's personal journey from high school social studies teacher to student at the Stanford GSE (and then to district superintendent, and ultimately back to Stanford as a professor).
When I read this paragraph, I couldn't help but smile:
"There had been little applause when we parked in front of 83B at Escondido Village, the housing provided for Stanford graduate students, in early September 1972. We were excited and scared. Each of us had so many questions about living on a campus, making friends, living within a tight budget, doing new things, and a dozen other concerns that flitted in and out of our minds. As it turned out, the two years that we lived at Stanford were ones that we recall with great affection."
Forty five years later, here I am.
I'm not sure what this chapter of my life will end up looking like, but I know it started like Cuban's. And that makes me feel happy, and like I'm part of something -- a place, a process -- bigger than me.
It was just a few weeks ago that I parked in front of Studio 4 at Escondido Village -- early September 2017. I, too, was excited and scared. I, too, had so many questions -- I'm sure many of the same ones that Cuban had. Like Cuban, it didn't take long for my concerns to be washed away and replaced with appreciation and gratitude. I already have great affection for this place and the people who study and work here.
"It was a movable feast, an intellectual smorgasbord that immersed me in a community of like-minded practitioners and scholars, who differed among themselves about aspects of public schooling but possessed in common a passion for understanding."
Some things haven't changed much, I guess.
I have no idea what will come after my time at Stanford. It's still (a little) too early to be worrying much about next steps. But it definitely ignites my imagination to think that not too many years ago, Larry Cuban was in a similar place, asking himself the same kinds of questions I find myself thinking about today.