Public education is huge. It is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Considering K-
12 education alone, here are some recent facts from the U.S. Dept of Education.
Such a colossus cannot be easily manoeuvred in any realistic way as a single
entity. To have any hope of effecting change, it must be approached on a much
smaller scale, with a specific target in mind, most likely a single target involving a
single school in a single district.
The obvious target is literacy as it relates to reading and math. Literacy is
essential to any real success in school and is a persistent and seemingly
intractable problem as depicted in the data from numerous studies.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “Tipping Point” writes about how small, seemingly
innocuous changes can quickly gather momentum and result in huge effects. In my
view, his model is an approach that could be adopted to improve literacy levels nation –
wide. There are a number of conditions required for these initial small steps to gather
the speed and power that result in dramatic change. To reach the tipping point, a
specific environmental conditions must exist and three types of individuals are required.
For anyone who is seriously interested in being involved in such a project, it
would be extremely helpful if they had read the complete text of Gladwell’s book. I will
provide snippets here that might entice you to read the original text.
Gladwell documents tipping points as an indicator of an emerging epidemic. He
describes several cases in which tipping points have been created, sometimes without
the actual knowledge of the participants who created them. As with all epidemics,
Gladwell characterizes them as emanating from a very few people and spreading
quickly to the masses.
Question: Can We Create a Literacy Tipping Point?
Gladwell notes that there three distinct types of individuals required for a tipping
point to occur; connectors, mavens and salespeople.
To launch such a project in one or more places, there are a number of
requirements, such as the necessary environmental conditions, one or more connector,
a maven or two, some salespeople, and a result that can be repeated so that the effect
The context of what it means to be a teacher also needs to be considered. The
context will shift to the notion that reading is not the special domain of schools and the
education industry, that in fact it can be done by almost anyone. If you cna read you
can teach someone else to read.
I will describe the requirements more fully in the next blog and provide a case study to
show how such a project can be done.
"If your child is having problems at school, run, don't walk to QLC Educational Services. It was miraculous for our son."