Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Creating an Innovation Dynamic in Education

Sometimes people try to convince me that there are very good public schools right now, and very poor private schools right now. I do not disagree with this point at all. Of course there are good public schools and bad private schools.

My core point has much more to do with the importance of creating a large scale process of ongoing mutation and development.

Silicon Valley was built on math, sand, and freedom. The Soviet Union had the best mathematicians and lots of sand, but no freedom. By the mid-1980s a decent U.S. university had more computing power than the entire Soviet Union.

For me, this is a profound parable for educational freedom as well. There were individual Soviet computing projects (i.e. a supercomputer project) that were actually quite good. But while the Soviet system, by means of individual exceptionalities or devoted state power, occasionally did manage to do great things, it was utterly incapable of creating a massive, evolving system of creation that could result in ubiquitious, cheap computer power and ever-more amazing applications and advances.

Sure, there are great individual teachers, principals, and public schools. But a sufficiently open market in education would create an innovation dynamic in education that was just as powerful in education as has taken place in the IT industry in the last forty years.


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