Comments for Christensen

October 5, 2010

I am reading Clayton Christensen’s book, Disrupting Class, It is certainly well-written and easy to read; however…

Test scores have not budged…however, the text does not explain that tests are renormed and that in reality, we are continually achieving better as a result.
Is it education’s role to fix society, or society’s to help education. Can education change society?
Recent findings suggest that people have a learning preference, not a leaning style.
Does anyone know how much more it costs a special needs child in the state of Iowa? Does this continue to higher education?
Standardization of schools: is it necessary? In a country that values efficiency over all, is individualized education not valued?
Can capitalism support individualized instruction? (particularly initially)
I certainly think of Foucault’s direct comparison of factories and schools with prison, in Discipline and Punish.

Is the nation really at risk? Some reports say that the US is “achieving well.” Are we using the same means to measure achievement? Can countries be compared, with their cultural and social differences? Would we compare children with differing cultural and social backgrounds in the same way?
Check out the Iowa Public Radio discussion with Joel Best.Joel Best/Douglas Wood. Absolutely eye-opening.

Should education be about liberal learning or about vocation? John Dewey debates. In the end, I believe he suggests that we do both. I try to support vocation through liberal learning. It should not and does not have to be one or the other.
Are we failing? Again, many believe that the US is doing well. International students still flock to the US for post-secondary schooling.
SAT scores drop because of renorming. The questions change, the norms change, the individuals taking the tests change. Can we ethically compare scores from decades ago?
Can and should we be using universal methods of achievement considering differences (language, language ability, cultural values, socio-economic background, cultural capital)?

The analogy with business (and success) is troublesome. Perhaps society needs to shift its thinking from education as a business in order for it to be successful. After all, these examples are discussing meeting market demand and appealing to a broad audience, when in fact, effective education does the opposite. It emphasizes the individual and meets needs in an individualized way.
I suspect, and am hopeful, that the text will address this. Often it appears that educators and administrators are looking to use technology as a replacement.
Page 83 explains that instruction has not changed much since the introduction of computers. If this is true, perhaps before seeking to “replace” traditional instruction with technology, the two can be joined to create something new and innovative.  More to come…


5 Responses to “Comments for Christensen”

  1. Billie Cowley Says:


    I agree that education should not be compared to the business model; however, every other profession seems to be collaborating across networks except teaching. The teaching professionals are still working in isolation in some respects. Until we, as educators, step outside our comfortable zones, changes in education will still be stagnant.


  2. Leigh Zeitz Says:

    I was interested in your comments about renorming the tests. I spent a little time researching and it appears that in 1995 the tests were renormed to actually raise the scores. One reference said that it would mean that if I got a 630 when I took them in 1971, it would be equivalent to a 700 in 1996. Does this really indicate that students are doing better on their tests or that the tests are being changed to adapt to a dumbing down of society?


  3. Jarod Mozer Says:


    You pose some really great questions. I can’t really say I have the answers to any of them. Your posts really make me want to go out and research this information. I’ll see if I find anything and get back to you.


  4. Mikael Says:

    I think that one reason that test scores have fallen is the emphasis that every single students needs or has to go to college to be successful. When students who don’t necessarily have the grades to go on to college are pushed down that road it causes the overall averages of test to fall. If these students tried other avenues such as learning a trade maybe that would solve the problem or maybe students aren’t being tested on things that really apply to life in the 21st century.

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