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Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns


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“A brilliant teacher, Christensen brings clarity to a muddled and chaotic world of education.”
―Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great

“A terrific read; it must become a blueprint for educational transformation.”
―Joel Klein, former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education

Studies in neuroscience reveal that the way we learn doesn’t always match up with the way we are taught. To stay competitive―academically, economically, and technologically―we need to apply the proven principles of disruptive innovation to our educational system. Disrupting Class will show you how to:

• Help more students succeed through customized learning
• Meet the demand for new technology, especially computers, in student-centric classrooms
• Use disruptive innovation to circumvent roadblocks that have stood in the way of reform
• Compete in the global classroom—and help students get ahead in the global market

Filled with fresh and surprising ideas, outside-the-box strategies, and straight-A success stories, Disrupting Class will make you rethink your understanding of intelligence, reevaluate your current school program, and reinvigorate your commitment to learning. The future is now. Class is in session.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781259860881
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 10/21/2016
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 729,499
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Clayton M. Christensen is one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth. He is Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Christensen is cofounder of Innosight, a management consultancy; Rose Park Advisors, an investment firm; and the Clayton Christensen Institute, a nonprofit think tank. His bestselling books include The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, and The Innovator’s Prescription.

Michael B. Horn was named one of the 100 most important people in the creation and advancement in the use of technology in education by Tech & Learning magazine. He is cofounder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a nonprofit think tank, and serves as a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions, which offers innovation services to higher education institutions. He is the coauthor of the bestseller Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools.

Curtis Johnson has extensive experience working in education as a teacher, a college professor, and a well-respected consultant. He is a managing partner of Education Evolving, a project of the Center for Policy Studies, which originated the concept of charter schools. Johnson was chief of staff to former governor Arne Carlson of Minnesota. He is the coauthor of three books that explore how metropolitan regions have to adapt to new realities to be successful places.

Read an Excerpt


How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns


The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2011Clayton M. Christensen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-175910-6



Why Schools Struggle to Teach Differently When Each Student Learns Differently

Maria slides into her seat two seconds before the bell rings and curses her alarm clock. She's already behind. Class starts practically before the bell rings because Mr. Alvera likes to cram the period full with as much information as possible. Maria glances over the handout waiting on her desk—it's a bullet-point recap of last night's reading, which she digested easily. She shoots a glance over at Rob and mimes the gesture of taking off his hat. Catching her eye, Rob complies before Mr. Alvera has a chance to say anything.

Rob tugs a hand through his mussed dark red hair and pulls out a notebook as the chemistry teacher explains the formula for the thermodynamic behavior of a gas. He tries to focus on the scrawled chalk that says "p V = n R T"—and diligently copies it into his notebook, as though that will change the fact that he doesn't get it. Mr. Alvera has spent some extra time trying to help him out, but there's limited time for that, and Mr. Alvera only seemed able to explain the same concepts in the same ways—just slower and louder. If Rob's grades keep slipping, Mr. Alvera is required to report him. And if that happens before tomorrow night's soccer game, he suspects he'll be riding the bench. But he's got soccer down: he actually feels worse about the fact that after spending last night poring over the textbook, he still doesn't get the concept.

Across the aisle, Maria sits up and raises her hand to ask a question. "Using p V = n R T, how would I find the density of a gas at standard temperature and pressure?"

Beside her, Rob's soccer teammate, second-stringer Doug Kim, looks like he's taking notes. Rob's heart sinks. Doug plays forward, too. Rob never used to think of himself as stupid, but these days, he suspects, most people at Randall Circle High School think of him as a dumb jock.

Rob's slumped shoulders in the third row of the classroom do not escape Alvera's notice, but Alvera has little time during the class period to dwell on one kid. His experience as a teacher has taught him to triage: some students get it, and others don't. In a school this big, what can he do? He's already met with Rob several times after class and given it his best shot. In his own school days, he'd been a miserable English student. Even now, Alvera is not a confident writer; yesterday, he'd had another teacher read over his draft of the memo to Stephanie Allston about Rob's class performance. He didn't want to give the new principal a bad impression. And he's not looking forward to talking to Allston about the school's star soccer forward. But Alvera can't afford to pay too much special attention to Rob; he likes the kid and admires his willingness to work hard, but Alvera's got 120 students in his five classes. All he can do is teach the theory as best he can and move on within the time they have. Alvera allows himself a fleeting moment of regret. Despite hours of extra assistance, he can't get through to Rob. But he knows that Rob isn't dumb.

And Rob knows he isn't dumb. He heads home that afternoon after soccer practice pleasantly sweaty from running sprints in the hot fall afternoon. Unusually, though, the exercise hasn't made him any less frustrated. Maria had been busy during study hall, and Mr. Alvera had another meeting already scheduled after school. Now Rob's going to have to face down a problem set with no idea how to tackle it.

Rob is still sitting at the kitchen table, head propped in hands, when his father arrives home from work. Rob doesn't even look up at the sound of the door opening and closing. Flipping through the pages of his textbook to check the answer to a practice problem, he groans.

"What are you working on?" his dad asks. He sets his briefcase down and starts going through a stack of mail.

Rob looks up at his father. Keep getting the problems wrong, or ask his dad? "I don't understand this thermodynamic gas stuff," he says after a long pause, "and Maria wasn't around to help."

"Let me see," his father says, and Robert shoves the textbook over to his father, who seems surprisingly undisturbed.

"OK, Rob, this isn't so bad," his father says. "Tell you what. Go down to that store that sells the balloons with helium and bring a few back here."

The tightness in Rob's chest eases. Soccer game tomorrow night! By the time he has dashed to the corner store and back with a set of balloons, the evening has started to cool, but it's still in the 90s. His father is waiting for him in the garage.

"Now take one of the balloons and put it in the car and close the door," his father suggests. Frowning, Rob does as his dad says, and the two loiter in the waning light until a bang makes Rob jump. His father laughs.

"It's the balloon! OK, now, I want you to think about the effect of temperature on pressure," his father says, "and think about how that expands volume beyond the breaking point of the balloon's rubber ..."

Rob grins. He's starting to get it.

* * *

Rob struggled in chemistry class because his brain is not wired like his teacher's or Maria's. It's not that Rob is not smart. He mastered the chemistry concept when the teaching was customized to the way he learns. So why can't schools customize their teaching? As we'll show, schools have a very interdependent architecture, which mandates standardization. So how do we get customized learning for each student? Modularity allows for customization, so the solution is to move to a modular architecture in schools. Only then can Rob have a learning solution customized to how he learns.

Most of us intuitively know that we all learn differently from one another—through different methods, with different hooks, and at different paces. We remember not being able to pick up a concept at the same time someone else grasped it instinctively. And we remember that occasionally a teacher or parent or another student would explain it in a different way, and it clicked. Or perhaps it just took more time. Other times we figured things out faster than our classmates. We grew bored when the class repeatedly drilled a concept for those who struggled to get it. And most of us had friends who excelled in certain classes but struggled in others. Our experience is that we learn differently.

In the last three decades, increasing numbers of cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists have acknowledged this, too. Researchers have produced a multitude of schemes to explain the straightforward idea that people learn differently from one another. This research has bubbled up under different rubrics. Although there is considerable certainty that people in fact learn differently, considerable uncertainty persists about what those differences are. At the moment, the only sure thing is no one has yet defined these differences so unambiguously that there is consensus on what the differences specifically are. Food fights periodically erupt in academia about what the salient differences are. As our understanding of the brain improves, we will better understand how it processes information—how neurotransmitters fire across synapses, which parts of the brain do what, how these develop, and so on—so we can better understand how different people learn. As neuroscientists help us to understand these underlying causal mechanisms, we will then be able to understand some of the mysteries of how human beings learn and what role our environment and experiences have on that ability. For now, however, the uncertainty persists.

In this book, we consciously avoid the controversies about whose definition of these differences is correct by making a simple assertion

Excerpted from DISRUPTING CLASS by CLAYTON M. CHRISTENSEN. Copyright © 2011 by Clayton M. Christensen. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents



Randall Circle High School

chapter 1:

Why Schools Struggle to Teach Differently

When Each Student Learns Differently

chapter 2:

Making the Shift: Schools Meet Society’s Jobs

chapter 3:

Crammed Classroom Computers

chapter 4:

Disruptively Deploying Computers

chapter 5:

The System for Student-Centric Learning

chapter 6:

The Impact of the Earliest Years on Students’ Success

chapter 7:

Why So Many Students Seem Unmotivated

chapter 8:

Improving Education Research

chapter 9:

Organizing to Innovate



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