Can Customized Education Be Scaled Up?

School of One students learning via “virtual tutor”; that’s Freakonomics Radio producer Aimee Machado getting in there with the microphone. (Photo: Stephen J. Dubner)

School of One, the New York City pilot program that aims to give every student a customized education (and the subject of a Freakonomics Radio episode), is about to grow. Joel Rose, the school’s founder, announced that he’s “departing the New York City Department of Education to launch an independent effort to take the School of One to scale.” Rick Hess, an Education Week blogger, explains why Rose likely made the move: “In leaving the NYCDOE, Rose will find it much easier to raise the capital needed to grow. Insiders estimate that he’s looking to raise $30 million over the next couple years and are confident the money will now be forthcoming.”


Rocketship, a CMO, is also pursuing this model


So, they've poorly rediscovered Maria Montessori's methods and added computers?

There are schools with individually customized education and real (not virtual) tutors all over the world. Is there anything besides using a computer to supplement a person that distinguishes this model?

Without a computer, it can be scaled up (50+ kids per teacher), so I would hope that with computerized assistance it could be done. Of course, that assumes teachers that aren't the product of U.S. education colleges and union rules...

Adrian Meli

I think what is important is that entrepreneurs try to throw a bunch of things at the wall over time and see what works in order to make education better. What we know today is that our current system is suboptimal and we have had very little innovation in decades. The New York charter school movement has been very promising in the way it has tried various models but we need to experiment more with technology, etc. over time. I think if a lot of entrepreneurs enter the space over time we will progress at a faster rate; if people are able to make money innovating then plenty of talent will flood in...