This is a teaser of things to come, but I could not keep it to myself. Over the last few months I have conducted workshops attended by hundreds of educators: teachers, business officers, and school CEO’s. One of our collaborative exercises is to look critically at this institution we call “school” and ask what aspects are utterly irreplaceable and which could be shifted to, or subsumed by, a competitor or collaborator, often at a lower cost. I started asking this question after my discussions with Shoshana Zuboff of the Harvard Business School who argues compellingly that education is undergoing an industry-wide mutation characterized in part by the shift of non-unique assets from higher cost to lower cost actors.
I will be reporting more fully later, but here is the short and VERY compelling tale of the tape: the list of what “school” provides that is truly irreplaceable is really short. It is about relationships, mentoring, social interaction, and coaching that takes place between students and adults, and students and their peers. According to the collective input of a growing number of respondents, virtually EVERYTHING else that takes place at “school” can be replaced by some other entity, usually at a lower cost. And in each workshop it took these educators less than 15 minutes to arrive at this conclusion.
Is it the apocalypse for “school as we know it”? Or is it an opportunity for rapid evolution of a new and stronger species that is better adapted to the current learning ecosystem? Stay tuned.