Home Book Reviews Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns


Clayton Christensen, the author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, and Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson team up on this recently published book.  In Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, Christensen and his co-authors apply sound theory, research, and practicality to a subject that no one wants to tackle: reforming K-12 education in America.

Some of the prescient points that the authors make in the book are:  increasing spending on the wrong items (like more computers) won’t necessarily help improve K-12, blaming the problems solely on the teachers’ unions won’t improve K-12, and unless students and teachers are motivated, problems won’t necessarily get solved.

I have already recommended this book to several people I know who serve on Boards of Education at the state and county levels.   My reason for recommending the book is that it presents a well-organized and researched approach to resolving some of today’s biggest educational dilemmas.  The authors provide cogent reasoning about students learning in different ways, the positive force behind disruption, and how K-12 education in America is constantly changing.  They provide examples of how technology can be harnessed to develop student-centric teaching, tailoring the education program to a specific student’s learning style.  Christensen’s expertise is in innovation, and he and his co-authors discuss the difficulties in getting to stage two learning by implementing the disrupting technologies outside of K-12 education before bringing them inside the K-12 classroom. 

A fascinating read for me was the research supporting the fact that changes in education need to occur before individuals reach the age of three, primarily citing the work done by Drs. Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley.  The authors add that education research in schools of education in higher education have not consistently supported consistent results with consistent improvement.  Lastly, they provide a toolkit for administrators to implement a successful improvement plan.

For those of you looking for a thoughtful read on K-12 education improvements, this is one of the best that I’ve read.  With improvements in technology leading to disruption in how children are educated, Christensen and his team predict that by 2019, half of high school classes will be delivered online and 25% will be online by 2014.  Reading the book will provide an understanding of the factors influencing his prediction, but it will also provide educators with some thought-provoking ideas that are not out of the realm of practical possibilities for implementation.



Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.