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Showing posts from November, 2008

By Way of Balance...

This post is going to read like I've had a complaint!  I haven't had any negative comments in fact, but on reflection I've decided that my last post could be construed as an attack on the motives of educational gurus, and I didn't mean it to be one. So...

As I said, I believe that enduring inequalities in the education system present a more pressing case for change than the fact that society needs different things from young people than it did 60 years ago.

In my presentation of this position, I may have seemed to suggest that educational gurus are not concerned about redressing social inequalities.  This is certainly not the case.  Stephen Heppell, for example, chairs The Inclusion Trust, which is making a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged youngsters.

With that caveat added, I'm happy to stand by my words!

When were schools ever ideal?

I guess that most teachers would agree, deep down, that schools represent a far from ideal solution to the education of young people. They are institutions - institutions which struggle to cater for the individual needs of young people and in which it is all too easy for the suffering of individuals to be overlooked. These are systemic problems, which persist despite the hard work and dedication of those employed in schools at all levels.

Ever was it thus.

If you listened to a certain brand of education gurus, you might imagine that there was once a time when schools represented a perfect solution, and that it is only now, as the digital generation passes through school into a digital society, that schools and the "factory education" that they offer are failing to provide young people with what they need.

Rubbish! The profound failings of schools have nothing to do with the nature of the current generation of students, and nothing to do with the kinds of careers that young …

Disrupting Class

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I don't read very many books about education, and when I do I am often disappointed.  There are too many snake-oil salesmen offering simplistic solutions.

"Disrupting Class" by Clayton M. Christensen is different.  It provides the perfect balance between moments of "yes - that's what I think", "oh wow, I hadn't thought of that, but it makes sense" and "hmm, not sure about that at all."

The central tenet of the book is that the success of schools has been measured in many different ways, and that the transformations required to succeed in terms of these successive measures require disruptions the magnitude of which would kill any business - to be replaced by new businesses that introduce disruptive innovations.

Christensen argues that every disruptive innovation in business begins by selling to non-consumers of the current product.  Apple began by selling their personal computers to children, whereas DEC were selliing mainframes to huge …