Yesterday morning I flew to DC to interview Obama's new Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Since there's still no confirmed Deputy Secretary of Education, we chatted in the Deputy's empty office next door to Duncan's own. Duncan's about my age (43) with a freshly scrubbed face that makes him look even younger. He surprised me right off the start with his enthusiastic endorsement of using digital tools like video games and cellphones in the classroom. He's a pragmatist; his attitude is that kids are on this stuff all day anyway, so why not put them to educational use?
I knew that Duncan was a big believer in standardized assessments, but those didn't come up in our conversation. He came off as solidly on the side of those who think that schools need to move with kids instead of against them, and that means using the toys kids love--games and cellphones--to teach them, inside and outside the classroom walls.
Here's a brief excerpt from our conversation. We'll post the rest of the interview on this website in the next week or two.