A Tale of Two Teachers – Part 1: How the Cascade Approach Fails Teachers like Ismail


“For those not familiar with it, the cascade approach attempts to build a core group of master trainers or champions through one or a series of “trainings.” Those who are trained then train others, who train others, and so on. Think of the cascade as education’s version of supply-side economics, if you will, (Yes, I’ve been reading Picketty, too!) in which knowledge doesn’t simply trickle down but rather “cascades” from the top of the pyramid to teachers at the bottom of the pyramid.

As a purely theoretical model of diffusion and capacity building, the cascade has much to commend it. It promises scale—an exponential increase in the number of teachers trained.


Unfortunately, in practice, the cascade often fails to attain any, or many, of these outcomes…”

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