Lean Start-Up Methodology – What Can Education Learn?

I just finished reading an article about Eric Reis  who is the guru of the lean start-up method for developing a business.  The basic idea is to build a baseline business strategy, test it immediately in the marketplace and then improve or rewrite or abandon or pivot (as he would say).  The idea is that failure drives success.

This got me thinking about the place of failure in education. As classroom instructors we can structure our days so that we get immediate feedback using one minute papers, or clickers and the like and then change the course of the session based on what we have found out.  We can analyze our tests for weak sections and resolve to change certain lectures or homework exercises.  All this on an individual basis but wouldn’t it be useful to know how other instructors failed with the same material in similar classes.  Science researchers don’t get recognition for publishing their unsuccessful experiments and doctors  certainly are not rewarded for admitting an incorrect diagnosis. The education system doesn’t encourage teachers discuss their unsuccessful methods of instruction.  This is unlikely to change since teacher evaluations are biased toward find things wrong instead of applauding those people who willingly takes risks and therefore often fail.


About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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