At first glance, the Growth Model can look quite intimidating with all the numbers and operations involved. In essence, it is quite simple: In the long run, growth reaches an equilibrium (steady output) when the investment is equal to the depreciation - a pattern typical of many economies.
Interestingly, economics in the classroom is no different. For instance, the push for smaller class sizes - a fad that returns every so often - is similar to adding more workers to a production line - there comes a point where it reaches an equilibrium. However, opponents against small class sizes ought to take into consideration Bloom's 2 Sigma Problem. The class size at which equilibrium is reached isn't far from a one-to-one ratio.
The problem with a steady output is the absence of growth. That is where both innovation and technology is required to reach higher levels of output - growth.
While Scott did not explore the difference between innovation and technology, its distinction is important when applied to teaching and learning. Technology is the tool which enables and empowers innovation while innovation is the creation of value. Thus, it is possible to have one without the other: tools without value; value without tools.
Itzkan's three stages of ICT in education provides a useful framework to assess the extent technology is used to innovate:
- Substitution - Replacing tasks of the teacher
- Transition - The start of change
- Transformation - Conceptual change in teaching and learning
Therefore, how much the equilibrium changes is significantly dependent on how much innovation is taking place - not the amount and level of technology owned. The trouble with innovation and technology is that it introduces creative destruction. At its most basic, technology and innovation improves efficiency which means less workers are required. Disruptive innovations - think iPod, iPhone, iPad - are the ones that cause the most destruction, sometimes completely destroying traditional markets and models.
Has the equilibrium for education changed significantly? To a certain extent, students today are learning, doing and experiencing more than students decades ago. Yet, are we producing better people than those decades ago? It is tempting to succumb to chronological snobbery and assume that the present is better than the best.