Disrupting Class Means Future Change for School System, Teacher Unions

So with this new year of 2010, I’m really thinking all futuristic. Yesterday it was brain skills testing. But what about technological changes that promise to transform our education system?

That’s what Harvard professor Clayton Christensen writes about in his 2009 book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. If you can’t afford the time or the money for the book, then you’ll at least want to check out this audio/video presentation on the topic by Dr. Scott McLeod (H/T Mike Antonucci).

What’s most fascinating is that Dr. McLeod’s presentation is made directly to the NEA Board of Directors, representing the nation’s largest teachers union and one of the most powerful political forces in existence. Toward the end of his presentation, he candidly tells his audience that the implications of disruptive innovation for the NEA are:

  1. More teacher duties can be outsourced, so there will be a need for fewer teachers; and
  2. With a smaller and more dispersed membership base, the NEA’s political and financial power will be weakened.

Nothing like a little frank talk to help stir the union to adapt to new realities or face the threat of future irrelevance. Interestingly, McLeod’s message is very similar to the one I shared with you from Dr. Terry Moe’s iVoices podcast interview last summer. His book Liberating Learning — co-authored with John Chubb — is another one you may want to get your hands on.

We’re boldly heading into the future, but that doesn’t mean we all can’t get in some more old-fashioned reading, too.