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The Impossible Dream

Education and the Search for Panaceas


Thomas C. Hunt

The history of American schooling is replete with evidence of the American proclivity to seek the panacea. The American education landscape is dotted with educational reformers, who in their zeal proclaimed that the sure-fire remedy they were proposing was a cinch to completely solve a given challenge or problem. Their proposed magic elixir, advanced with total confidence, would take effect after the time of its implementation and would bring paradise in at least part of the educational world. Indigenous to this position is educators’ steadfast unwillingness to learn from the wisdom of the accumulated past resulting in a never-ending parade of reforms. Though these reforms are often worthwhile in themselves – with some of more worth than others, they share the same fate and suffer a similar unhappy ending, only to see the process born again and begun anew.