In the fall of 2011, an eclectic group of people from the San Francisco Bay Area began making regular trips to Lima, Peru. Among them were architects, mechanical engineers, ethnographers, communication designers and education specialists.
They were all employees of the design company Ideo, which is perhaps best known for designing the first laptop computer and the first Apple computer mouse. But now Ideo had been hired by a Peruvian businessman, Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor, to work on a new type of project: designing a network of low-cost private schools from scratch, including the classrooms, the curriculum, the teacher-training strategies and the business model.
Mr. Rodriguez-Pastor was “trying to break the traditional school model,” he recalled in a recent interview. “We thought, why not get different perspectives rather than build on what we think we know?”