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This Just In: Education is Difficult to Disrupt

November 23, 2020

In the Forbes article below, Derek Newton reviews a new book by MIT’s Justin Reich that describes how difficult it is to disrupt public education. Mr. Newton summarizes the book’s premise in this paragraph:

Very few understand, as examples, that education simply isn’t susceptible to disruption the way some markets may be. They miss that truth because they don’t understand that education isn’t a market or, at a minimum, they misunderstand what is being bought and sold in it. They likewise routinely and predictably miss that, in nearly every example, what they are building and investing in is not new but recycled, having failed to disrupt, democratize or scale education many times before.

Newton cites a series of spectacularly bad predictions, (some of your humble blogger has echoed, albeit conditionally) to underscore the failure of edu-preneurs to disrupt schooling. If the pandemic has taught us anything about education it SHOULD have taught us that you cannot replicate the old model of schooling remotely AND that the old model on the internet amplifies the inequities that are a feature of that model. If we ever hope to disrupt education we need to disrupt our mental formation about the “need” to sort and select children into winners and losers. If we used technology to make learning constant and time and methodology variable we would accomplish the disruption the tech prophets predict want… but not the profits the marketeers are seeking.


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