Transforming education

Via the blog of:

Often the rhetoric concerning higher education reform is so heated that it becomes unhealthy. After all, there’s a lot of money riding on the outcome.

But for those who want a thoughtful, reasoned—even gentle—approach to the extraordinary opportunities (and massive problems) facing higher education, there’s Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring’s new book, The Innovative University.

I’ve had the honor of knowing Clay—one of the finest business minds since Peter Drucker—through serving on various Harvard Business School committees and boards for the last sixteen years. Clay’s simply one the finest, most inspiring people I’ve ever known, as both a scholar and a human being. I’ve only known of Henry Eyring through his work with former Harvard Dean and now BYU-Idaho President Kim Clark. But what I do know is that both Henry and Kim are extraordinary leaders, and have worked wonders at BYU-I.

The Innovative University is beautifully written, and based on Clay’s work ondisruptive innovation. Any serious follower of the modern university who reads this book will realize that the status quo is in deep trouble.

Sadly, I predict that few traditional universities will be bold enough to seize the opportunities Clay and Henry describe. The incumbents in an industry usually cling to their failing paradigm all the way to collapse, a tragedy described years ago by my former professor (and the world’s best Socratic teacher) Ben Shapiro in Why Bad things Happen to Good Companies.

My guess is that academia will face an even darker future than other disrupted industries, simply because of its governance problems. It’s as if US Steel, when trying to respond to the disruptive threat of mini-mills, not only had to face its unions, but had to contend with management at all levels elected by the unions—just as the tenured faculty effectively elect its Department Heads, Deans, and Presidents.