Nonconsumption in New Orleans

By:

Oct 9, 2008

There’s a fascinating article in the August 17, 2008 New York Times Magazine by Paul Tough. It’s titled “A Teachable Moment” and is well worth the read.

There are many strands in here worth unpacking, including the ongoing debate about can good schools be enough to turn around children or do you need all parts of society coming together if you are to have any hope. Our book discusses this in part, and Innosight Institute will address this question with a more comprehensive paper in the coming months.

For now, I want to focus on this line: “The city’s disastrously low-performing school system was almost entirely washed away in the [Katrina] flood –- many of the buildings were destroyed, the school board was taken over and all the teachers were fired.”

The total lack of options resulting in New Orleans from this tragedy created vast nonconsumption of schooling, as described in the article. Nonconsumption, as we stress, allows for disruptive models to emerge to address jobs needing to be done. This is a unique opportunity in the U.S., and indeed, there is a lot of innovation happening in New Orleans schools –- just as we would predict. It’s a fascinating laboratory, and one in which even more innovative ideas could be tried to really make an impact and improve children’s lives. We hope others, like this blogger, see that opportunity, too.

– Michael B. Horn

Michael is a co-founder and distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute. He currently works as a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions.