One key insight about the process of innovation, provided by Amar Bhide of Tufts University, is that we tend to focus too much on the supply side of innovation, and less on the demand side of it. When we talk about the rise of Silicon Valley, or any such innovation success story, the stories focus usually on the great innovators and entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, incubators and other aspects of the innovation ecosystem: We tend to play down, however, the consumers who tried out those innovations, those early people who ordered on Amazon, tried out Webvan, embraced eBay and Google. The central point of Professor Bhide's argument is that we should go beyond the usual narrow view of the innovation ecosystem. And, this is not about consumer co-creation, or open innovation, which, despite their appeal in management literature, remain quite rare; the point is whether the wider economy is ready to embrace innovation.
As we prepare for the London event on Education Innovation (see the event details here), this is one question that we may need to pay heed to: While we build an ecosystem for innovation in Education, do we have 'venturesome' learners to sustain such innovation? And, particularly, do we have 'venturesome' learners in the areas where education innovation is most needed, such as India? And, if we don't have them, what policies should be adopted to encourage 'venturesome' educating?
If 'venturesome educating' sounded odd, it is: In education, which is standardised, regulated, fragmented along national boundaries, standardisation, rather than innovation, is the thing to do. In fact, in many ways, innovation is seen as a bad thing - something akin to 'creative accounting' which sounds bad - some kind of global conspiracy to undermine the purity of learning! However, this assumed 'pure' learning is nothing but, in most nations, a failed formula for producing clerks - failed because the clerks are not needed, and failed because it must reject most people to make a few who complete look valuable. These structures of education, standardised and frozen in time, thrive on exclusivity - education is only valuable because most people can't achieve it.
But there is something else happening in the world. There is a media revolution under way, and this has led to, among other things, a global convergence of aspirations. Now this makes the failure of education even more glaring, because, without the hope afforded by an inclusive and accessible education, and one that really delivers, building democratic societies around middle class prosperity, will fail. Since there is nothing within the current formats of educating, which really still depends on industrial age structures, finding new ways of educating is an urgent necessity.
It is noticeable that the supply side of such new thinking is coming together. The old institutions are trying out new things, new institutions are being created, there are investors and technologists building newer ways of doing things. However, all these are done with a spirit of 'disruption', that of defying and breaking the old structures - with the expectation that solutions facilitated by global capital will ultimately overwhelm the national systems that are so clearly failing. However, the national systems control the demand side of education, and without this, innovation in education is likely to be limited.
The Indian context is of special interest here. India is the fastest growing markets in the world, and lack of good education is indeed imposing a real strain on a fast modernising economy and accentuating the divide in a deeply stratified society. Yet India remains an unrelenting conservative society as far as education is concerned (some regions of it more than others), essentially carrying on the colonial formula of education and social privilege through a paternalistic regulatory system and traditional formats of middle class life. In this setting, despite rapid expansion of private provision of education, innovation has not happened. Rather, intrusive regulation and dependence on 'black money' in funding education has led to pervasive criminalisation of education, endangering the whole edifice, and over longer term, the 'Indian Dream'.
One way to create the demand for innovative education is to create the sources of funding that sustains the demand for such solutions alongside the innovation. Dependence on national systems of funding, or even private students paying, would invariably impose limits on new ways of doing things. Such innovation may indeed bring its own demands for efficiency along with it - if someone is creating funding for education, they would be keen to reign in costs and ensure effectiveness: Hence, thinking about how to fund the demand side of education innovation may be the start point of any conversation about innovation in education. And, India, above all, provides, as with many other things in education, one great opportunity and its greatest challenge.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
Italy recently apologised to Libya for its occupation of the country between 1911 and the Second Word War and offered an investment deal of $5 Billion over next 25 years towards reparation. This is largely symbolic, and investment deals could have been done without adding this moral halo . But the apology itself is an important step. The key question is one of principle, indeed. It is about whether the occupying countries do accept that their colonial exploits did enormous harm to the occupied, and whether they are ready to accept the responsibility. As the world becomes more sensitive towards the wrongness of occupation [even George Bush was heard saying that occupation of Georgia by Russia is unthinkable in the 21st century!!], and the world justice system gears up to try the leaders causing genocide and violence, paying for past crimes - including occupation - becomes ever more relevant and important. There are several issues which are still hotly debated - slavery, for example,
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.