Talking about Pritchett’s new book, which I really liked. Here is an excerpt from the podcast.
I do mention that Clay Christiansen has this idea of disruptive innovation. Which is where you actually moves to something that looks like lower quality but then rebuild a higher quality on top of that. The classic example of course is the PC (personal computer), which in computing terms when it came out in 1980 was a garage hobbyist toy that no serious computer engineer would pay any attention to. And all the firms that ignored the incipient disruptive innovation of the PC got themselves blown away by this, at the time, low-quality alternative. So I do think technology is going to change the way classrooms are managed in ways that are going to look disruptive, in the sense that they may appear to be de-skilling the classroom. But I think that in the long run there will be a disruptive innovation in the developing world that will rapidly accelerate the rate at which they can close on these higher levels of schooling. But when I hinted at this chaos–it’s going to be very chaotic. It’s going to be lots of people doing things that don’t look like finished classrooms, but produce incredible gains, and they are going to reconstitute a new way of doing education.
Keep in mind that I believe in the null hypothesis, which is that no education technique makes a big difference in terms of outcomes. Pritchett’s book actually offers a lot of support for that hypothesis, in that many results that he reports show little or no difference. However, he does offer one example, from Pakistan, in which giving parents “report cards” on school performance puts pressure on schools to improve and leads to some significant gains in the context of a controlled experiment.