Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Disrupting Class

I just finished reading Clayton Christensen's Disrupting Class How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.  I recommend Christensen's thought-provoking work to educators.  Disrupting Class furthers the notion that we need to customize learning.  Christensen points out that the pervasive monolithic approach to education in this country serves as an obstacle towards creating a support structure for  individualizing instruction.  Through an efficient and effective leveraging of technology schools can redefine experiences and present a customized program that better address the needs and interests of individual students.

I wanted to share some highlights from the book as way to share what I think are important points educators need to consider. 

When an educational approach is well aligned with one’s stronger intelligences or aptitudes, understanding can come more easily and with greater enthusiasm

Why do schools work this way? If we agree that we learn differently and that students need customized pathways and paces to learn, why do schools standardize the way they teach and the way they test?

But here is the dilemma: because students have different types of intelligence, learning styles, paces, and starting points, all students have special learning needs. It is not just students whom we label as having disabilities. Or, to put it as singer-songwriter Danny Deardorff did, we are all “differently abled.” The students who succeed in schools do so largely because their intelligence happens to match the dominant paradigm in use in a particular classroom—or somehow they have found ways to adapt to it

Can the system of schooling designed to process groups of students in standardized ways in a monolithic instructional mode be adapted to handle differences in the way individual brains are wired for learning?

Simply put, earlier technological revolutions had to do with transforming energy or transforming materials. This one has to do with the transformation of time and distance, and thus cuts deeply into the fabric of society. At least as important, it has made knowledge and creativity the number one factor of production-far more important than capital, labor, and raw materials 

In the end, the goal is not to decide on the one best model. The ideal education is different for each individual, encompassing both scholastic and empirical knowledge, taking place over a lifetime in multiple modes, with time spent out in the field, working one-on-one with teachers and mentors, batting ideas back and forth with peers, and immersed in solo research and concentrated creative problem solving