Non-consumers of educational offerings are typically framed as having access problems. Getting schooled is regarded as an unquestionably good thing. Getting there can be problematic. People living in poverty cannot afford the costs or provide children with the nurturing needed at home. Children working long hours to survive cannot take time away from their labors. People in war torn or disaster areas lack the infrastructure to set up classrooms and provide safe passage to school locations. Solving these access problems would be sustaining innovations for the families, neighborhoods, local economies and regional governments. On the other hand, these same solutions could be disruptive to pathological enterprises such as child prostitution, slave trade, domestic violence, drug trafficking, and street crime.
There's another population of non-consumers in situations where access is available. These are learners who opt out, stress out, act out, cop out, flip out, flunk out or drop out. They cannot handle getting prepared for the real world by putting in seat time, reading for meaning or doing school work. They are a handful for teachers, administrators parents and law officers. They are wired differently, better acculturated to the recent wave of technological advances and ready for the future real world that is not here yet. For this population, getting schooled is "so last century" and as useful as a set of encyclopedias.
These post-literate, post-industrial and post-modern non-consumers need an education unlike any schooling can provide. They are already separate from the incumbent providers and consumers of schooling. They are ideal for a disruptive innovation to serve immediately. Redefining school work to match their profile could launch the new commercial system and subsequent advances. In time, this education without schooling could replace the hard copy, industrialized and modernized schools we now subsidize.
In my next post, I'll explore the profile of this dropout demographic as I foresee it.