The untimely death of Professor Clayton Christensen at the age of 67 has jarred many of us. He was truly an amazing and influential innovator and disrupter.

I consider myself lucky because I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Christensen at his presentation in Boston many years ago — speaking about education. He was very clear and inspiring, and I’ve continued to follow him from a distance ever since.

I’d like to share some of his thoughts on the limits of data. We in education are directed to collect data, data, data. Our governments demand it. We’ve absorbed the call that is in the air everywhere. We’re supposed to gather data to — we are told — prove our methods and thereby, improve student outcomes.

We mourn the death of Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor who is known as the disrupter — a management guru who assisted so many companies to create anew — many in Silicon Valley credit him for their success. See tributes by Bill Gates and Stephen Jobs, for instance.

And yet, Christensen questioned the primacy and continued piling on — of data. As I read and listened to his two short presentations at the Drucker Forum in 2014 and 2016 — I was so moved and amazed.

While, like many, I’ve taken the idea of data collection as a given, here’s a disrupter who dared to question it and where it’s leading us and which opportunities we are missing. Take a listen. You’ll be glad you did.


Here’s part of

The 12th Annual Global Peter Drucker Forum honored him, as written below.​

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Clayton Christensen.
He was a towering figure — intellectually, morally and physically. We had the enormous privilege to have him as a supporter, mentor and friend of the Drucker Forum. As Steve Blank puts it, we all stood on Clay’s shoulders….

…… Clay spoke at the Forum in both 2014 and 2016, and had planned to be back in 2018. Sadly, as his health declined that became impossible. You will find videos of his memorable presentations and discussions below. These are historic documents, yet hold absolute relevance for today and for future Drucker Forums. At the 2020 Forum, we will continue the celebration of his life by adding our own recognition of the immense value he brought to management thought and practice.

Our thoughts of condolence go most deeply to his wife, Christine, and his children.”

Richard Straub, Founder & President
Angelica Kohlmann, Chair of the
International Advisory Board

Global Peter Drucker Forum

Now back to me….

Here are two of the clips that the Drucker Forum provided which deal iwth the limits of data.

Data collection is a vital issue for those of us who toil in the public school arena –as we are pushed to collect more data and to create programs driven by data. Really? Please share these clips with colleagues who work in schools and who create programs for schools. I believe you’ll be glad you listened to them.

In so doing, we’ll be honoring the memory and legacy of Clayton Christensen.

Innovation and Growth

“Growth comes from (disruptive) innovation and the link between the two is investment” … and how misguided metrics thwart growth. Watch the video.

The Limits of Data

“Data was not created by God. Data is a representation of a phenomenon, but the data is not the phenomenon” … and why that should make you desperate for theory. Watch the video.

This was originally posted on Medium

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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