THE BLOG

Charles Leadbeater: Education Innovation in the Slums

Charles Leadbeater went looking for radical new forms of education, and found them in the slums of Rio and Kibera, where some of the world's poorest kids are finding transformative new ways to learn. And this informal, disruptive new kind of school, he says, is what all schools need to become.

Charles Leadbeater's theories on innovation have compelled some of the world's largest organizations to rethink their strategies. A financial journalist turned innovation consultant (for clients ranging from the British government to Microsoft), Leadbeater noticed the rise of "pro-ams" -- passionate amateurs who act like professionals, making breakthrough discoveries in many fields, from software to astronomy to kite-surfing. His 2004 essay "The Pro-Am Revolution" -- which the New York Times called one of the year's biggest global ideas -- highlighted the rise of this new breed of amateur.

Prominent examples range from the mountain bike to the open-source operating system Linux, from Wikipedia to the Jubilee 2000 campaign, which helped persuade Western nations to cancel more than $30 billion in third-world debt. In his upcoming book, We-Think, Leadbeater explores how this emerging culture of mass creativity and participation could reshape companies and governments. A business reporter by training, he was previously an editor for the Financial Times, and later, The Independent, where, with Helen Fielding, he developed the "Bridget Jones' Diary" column. Currently, he is researching for Atlas of Ideas, a program that is mapping changes in the global geography of science and innovation.