Disrupting Class | Clayton M. Christensen

Summary of: Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns
By: Clayton M. Christensen


Step into the complex world of education and dive into how disruptive innovation can drastically change the way we learn. ‘Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns’ by Clayton M. Christensen examines the current crisis in the American educational system, the challenges faced by various stakeholders, and the need for an individualized and student-centric approach that leverages technology. Delve into the disruptive innovation theory, witness the inefficient use of computers in the classroom, and examine potential transformations as technology becomes more integrated with personalized learning. This book summary will enable you to rethink traditional educational models and explore groundbreaking methods that can reshape the future of learning.

Disrupting the Classroom for Better Education

American schools are failing to prepare students to become active citizens in a diverse society and contribute to the economy. The blame is often misdirected, and the education system faces several problems, including the lack of extrinsic motivation to learn and the outdated factory model of teaching. By disrupting the classroom, educators can break through the obstacles and provide customized learning that caters to each student’s unique learning process, making education more student-centric and satisfying.

The American education system has set lofty ideals for schools, which include guiding students towards becoming active members of a participatory democracy, understanding the value of diversity, and contributing to a thriving economy. Despite these goals, American schools are falling short of expectations. Several factors contribute to this failure, including a lack of funding, insufficient technology, uninvolved parents, a faulty educational model, and the blame never getting assigned correctly due to the wrong ways in measuring scholastic performance.

The book explains that the disruption theory and a brief history of schooling in the United States show that schools consistently improved over time. To foster learning, educators rely on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Unfortunately, students today have little extrinsic motivation to learn, so their progress depends mostly on their intrinsic motivation. In the past, extrinsic motivation used to be more robust as people sought to get ahead economically. However, prosperity has weakened the need to study hard, as demonstrated in Japan and South Korea.

The American education system is also ill-equipped to provide a satisfying scholastic experience due to its hierarchical structure that limits educators’ ability to innovate. Schools are caught between lateral and temporal interdependencies, meaning that changing how people teach information in one subject requires changing how they present it in another, and altering the curriculum for one grade level requires changing it for another. Moreover, the public education system is based on standardization, and its roots in industrialization give it an inherent “factory model” of how to do things for maximum efficiency.

The education system’s unwieldy nature faces even larger problems, such as the failure to teach material in the way human beings learn. The system operates on outdated assumptions about the nature of intelligence and optimum learning processes. The monolithic model does not reflect reality since each person learns differently. Howard Gardner’s 1980s research into “multiple intelligences” demonstrated that there are eight distinct intelligences, each requiring a customized learning method. Educators need to focus on these differences and provide customized learning to become student-centric. However, it is challenging to personalize education within the factory model.

Disrupting the classroom is the way forward for better education. By doing so, educators can break down the obstacles and provide customized learning to cater to each student’s unique learning process. This move towards student-centric education fosters intrinsic motivation and improves the scholastic experience. It is time for schools to embrace this change and ensure that students are better prepared to become active citizens in a diverse society and contribute to the economy.

Disruptive Innovation in Education

Disruptive innovation theory can provide potential ways to reform the education system. When you look at the evolution of a product or service, there are two types of changes: sustaining innovations and disruptive innovations. Industry leaders focus on sustaining innovations, but disruptive innovations can eventually overtake them. Public education is currently under threat from disruptive innovation, which is improving at a faster rate than traditional education. While those involved in education are desperate to change it and improve their schools, their institutions are tied to their current practices. Disruptive innovation can be an effective way to reform the education system.

The Disruptive Innovation of Computer-Based Learning in Education

The introduction of computers in public education highlights the struggle of established systems to integrate disruptive innovations. The system simply “crammed” machines into the existing structure, with minimal impact on the status quo. However, online classes provide a model for integrating technology effectively into curricula. With the rise of student-centric technology, computer-based learning will replace basic methods, aiding in the U.S. teacher shortage. Individualized education plans and assessment will replace monolithic testing, while student-centered education will lead to a shift in textbook marketing and distribution. Homeschooling, with the first step being computer-based learning, will further benefit from these trends.

Rethinking Education Research

Education research needs a new paradigm that focuses on individual students rather than specific systems. While descriptive research helps understand data, it has limited benefits. To advance further, deductive reasoning and seeking anomalies are essential. Researchers must also move beyond correlations and delve deeper into the causes of specific relationships. Education reforms must address the root cause of students’ inability to learn. School districts can leverage chartered and pilot schools as heavyweight teams and R&D labs to create new school architectures accessible to everyone. By evaluating the reliability of research-based statements, educators can adopt a research-based approach that best serves their students’ unique needs.

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