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Charter Schools, Education, Effecting Change, Find Out More, Funding Schools, GERM (Global Education Reform Movement), Good Teaching, Government Policy, New Zealand, Partnership Schools, Privatisation of state schools, Research on Education, School Funding, SOSNZ, USA Schools

Education Entrepreneurship Innovation Freedom


I have two passions.

The first is education – that is the thing I am thinking of when I wake and when I go to sleep (bear in mind I am not even teaching at the moment).  I love to research learning methods, and consider how to improve my own learning and my teaching.  I love to trade information with great teachers on Twitter, forums, blogs and Facebook – and, yes, even in real life!

My other passion is Lean Startup and entrepreneurship.   This was foisted on me somewhat by my husband, who lives and breathes such matters, much like I do with teaching.

I love how there is room to think out of the box but there is focus on a goal and how to get there.  I love the freedom to create and evolve past creations.   This is a vicarious passion – I hear from Dan what is going on, I watch the odd TED talk and read the odd blog, or dip into Techcrunch for a nosy.

So it is interesting when these two worlds collide.

Not least of all when that collision also involves a charter school, which I am working so hard against here in New Zealand for so many very good reasons.

So here is one of those times when they collide: education meets entrepreneurship.

This is a talk by Diane Tavenner about her US charter school in SIlicon Valley and how it is using the Lean Startup model to inform its teaching methods.

A couple of things struck me, but the most interesting thing is that all of what she described in terms of teaching methods and evaluation could be undertaken in a public schools if the government here were willing to allow us to innovate more.

Sure it would mean teaching teachers and senior staff about Lean Startup methods, and getting them on board.  As with anything, you have to believe in what you are learning if you are to learn it well.  But it is promising.

I know loads of teachers chomping at the bit to learn more, try different methods, change how things are done if they don’t seem to be the best way, and they would be up for this or any other innovation in a heartbeat IF it truly was aimed at helping the kids learn both their subject matter and good ethics and behaviour for life.

However, government are not giving public schools’ the freedom they are planning to give charters here –  for public schools they are leaving the shackles on.


fairnessWhy not drive positive change in the very good system we have, to improve it even further?  Why not make it easier to partner with business   Why not allow more funding for teachers to get professional development and be flexible about what that development is?

Why not allow the same funding criteria for public schools that charters will enjoy so that public schools have the freedom to choose where to spend their dollars best?  After all, a public school can only spend on the the school and those within it – unlike a charter that can take some of that money for profit – so the money would be well spent.

That is what I find unacceptable.  The double standard.

If such innovation truly can help children, and if helping children is the goal, then why not allow all schools the same freedom and see how it works out?

No experiment can be properly evaluated without a control.

Food for thought.

Thank you to Rory Ford for sharing this video with me.

PS, if anyone knows more about Diane Tavenner, her schools, her methods, or anything similar, good or bad, I would love to hear from you.  Email me or post a comment.  Thanks, Dianne

About Save Our Schools NZ

"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." Gandhi


One thought on “Education Entrepreneurship Innovation Freedom

  1. You asked “why” and there’s a simple reason. Why would they? Why would any bureaucrat think that this particular new, risky, unproven method is better then other methods?

    Put yourself in the shoes of the bureaucrat who could make this decision. Would they look like an idiot if they tried and it didnt work? Yes, they would. So its better (ie for the bureaucrat) to leave everything as it is.

    Take no risks, avoid blame, avoid decisions altogether if you can. Because there is no imperative for any individual decision maker to make change.

    They don’t have your passions, or mine. They don’t have any passions at all, at least not work related, thats why they work for the government.

    And this is exactly why we should have charter schools, so awesome people with awesome ideas who WILL NEVER work for the government can take risks, try new things, sometimes look like an idiot, but go on to make change and find a better way, and eventually to provide awesome education. And also some weirdos will do it, and probably some special interest groups. Thats a problem, but also an inseperable part of the solution.

    And really, how do you tell the difference between an awesome-revolutionary-ideas person and a freaking weirdo or special interest group? Just look at the results. Some succeed, other fail, the way it should be!


    Posted by brad | March 8, 2013, 12:41 pm

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