*The Rebirth of Education*, by Lant Pritchett

The subtitle is Schooling Ain’t Learning, and it is excellent, as one might expect.  Here is one excerpt:

In 1976, in Nicaragua, the government tried out broadcasting lessons over the radio.  This innovation was evaluated using a randomized, controlled trial to scientifically test the learning gains of students exposed to the radio-based instruction versus those who were not.  The study, published in 1981, proved conclusively that radio-based instruction was more effective in absolute terms than traditional classroom-based pedagogy and was wildly more cost-effective

So the end of the story was widespread adoption of broadcasted lessons, followed by improved average test scores in Nicaragua, followed by adoption and adaption for other places in the world, right?  Wrong.  Radio-based instruction did not meet the standard of isomorphic mimicry — it didn’t look cool.

You will find some of the underlying research papers on Nicaraguan radio education here.


Comments for this post are closed