In a commentary in Education Week, Arthur Wise writes that the primary force resisting change in public education is "neither the union nor the school board nor any of the other usual suspects." Instead, it is the antiquated, self-contained, four-walled classroom, with a fully qualified teacher for every 25 or so students.
Continued adherence to this design reinforces the status quo, in Wise's view, making it a "tyrannical" force against change. Under this model, educators must teach 100 percent of the time, standing in front of or in proximity to the class. Students must be supervised 100 percent of the time by teachers in fixed groups. Technology has not bred innovation, since schools have added hardware, software, courseware, and technical support in ways that continue familiar forms of teaching and learning.
Wise proposes we define "classroom" as 150 students served by a team of professionals and others. At the cost of six fully qualified teachers, a team of 17 full-time members, led by a well-compensated, board-certified or otherwise accomplished teacher, could serve the class. Senior teachers would remain accountable for the learning of the 150 students, but many other human and technological resources would be available to help students. He proposes this new model because "it is clear that we have reached the limit of student achievement using the old paradigm."