What makes reinventing school so hard? Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not just inadequate funding or uninspired leadership. 

Schools operate in ‘value networks’—a web of external influences that shape their priorities. Think state agencies, students’ families, employee unions, etc. 

The value networks of most schools push them to prioritize things like covering state standards, preparing students for college, and offering all the things we’ve come to expect from the “typical” version of school.

But what if students want to move ahead at their own pace? Or learn through on-the-job experiences? Or pursue passion projects full time? Reinventing an established school to meet these students’ needs is like trying to escape gravity. The school’s value network keeps it grounded in convention.

The only way to really reinvent schooling is to create new programs with new value networks centered on different priorities.

Want to dive deeper? Check out the link below.


  • Thomas Arnett
    Thomas Arnett

    Thomas Arnett is a senior research fellow for the Clayton Christensen Institute. His work focuses on using the Theory of Disruptive Innovation to study innovative instructional models and their potential to scale student-centered learning in K–12 education. He also studies demand for innovative resources and practices across the K–12 education system using the Jobs to Be Done Theory.