Last week I had the opportunity to discuss Gabriel Sanchez Zinny’s new book EDUCACION 3.0: The Struggle for Talent in Latin America (with James McBride; Books & Books, 2014).  The discussion took place in the Washington DC offices of the Bertelsmann Foundation. Author Zinny was on hand to discuss the book. I offered some observations.

Gabriel’s book pushes the boundaries of education reform in Latin America, and the Americas in general, including the United States.  In addition to discussing the popular topic of 21st century skills, he commends reading to move beyond public versus private; rather, to think outside the box.

He documents the rapid rise of the middle class in Latin America.  This should be a push for better quality public services, including education.  Is it happening?

Zinny discussed the so-called “second machine age” (Brynjolfsson and McAfee). The first was good for labor, for everyone really.  The general benefits of the second one are not so clear.  It will definitely benefit the tech savvy; the point is to make it beneficial to the masses.  In education, that means using technology and better pedagogy, to improve learning outcomes for the poor.

Gabriel discuss the “race between education and technology” a phrase popularized by Goldin and Katz in their book by the same title.  The phrase was first used by Jan Tinbergen, the Nobel Prize winning economist.  Tinbergen was talking about inequality as a product of the race between education and technology.  This is clearly what Zinny means; if we don’t get the education system to equip workers with the skills they need to take advantage of new technology, then inequality will surely rise.  Technology on its own won’t help; not without education and good pedagogy, as well as good policy.  Both need to be in tandem.

Educacion 3.0 gives us hope.  It gives us examples of entrepreneurship in education.  In it, Zinny documents what is happening on the ground by individuals and groups transcending boundaries and contributing to the global search for talent, innovation and quality.  While the book has a lot of examples at the higher education level, we need more at the basic education level as well.