Maizie Simpson

Company Kudos: How Ideo is Putting Some of Our Favorite Values to Work in Peru

Greetings from the new PR and editorial intern! I’m new to the whole Magoosh blogging scene, so before I dive in, let me start with a brief introduction.

Hi! My name is Maizie. I’m a senior studying journalism at the University of Arizona, I’m 5’4”, pretty fond of cookies (all kinds), and I love all things education. In fact, I also work as a tutor for student athletes at the U of A, and I just returned from a trip to Peru where I taught English for six weeks!

A Company on a Mission

Ah, Peru. That’s part of what caught my attention about this recent article from the New York Times. It’s called “Shaping a School System, From the Ground Up,” and it profiles Ideo, a San Francisco–based design company that has been working for the past three years to improve the education system in Peru.

But what really caught my attention was this: Ideo’s mission in Peru lined up perfectly with some of Magoosh’s most important core values—the values that first compelled me to apply to Magoosh.

But before we get into those core values, let me first answer…

Who’s Ideo?

As I mentioned earlier, Ideo is a design firm based right across the Bay from us. Hey, neighbors! What have they designed, you ask? Well, the first laptop, for one, and the first mouse for Apple computers. Nice.

But for years now, people have been coming to companies like Ideo and asking them to redesign some out-of-the-ordinary stuff, such as “complex systems for businesses, governments, and nonprofits,” according to the article. Recently, they even redesigned the cafeteria system for schools in the San Francisco Unified School District—see ya later, lunch lines—among some other pretty amazing projects.

I’m guessing that’s why Peruvian businessman Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor came to them for a solution to the problems in Peru’s education system.

What’s Going on in Peru?

We’ll get back to Ideo in just a second. But first, a little background on Peru and its education system:

The country may have an endless supply of hilarious llama antics (I got spit on probably three times), but the state of its education is no laughing matter. Peru has again and again scored alarmingly low on the global education survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And I speak from experience when I say Peru’s public school system needs work.

The kids I taught in Trujillo (a city up in the north) were consistently uninterested, unmotivated, and too distracted to learn. And who could blame them? The classrooms we used were ramshackle and cluttered, with no windows—not one. It was too stuffy to close the doors so we left them open, only to turn around and see students from every other classroom huddled, gazing through the entrance. Not an ideal learning space. Here’s a picture of one of my classrooms so you have an idea:

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So, along came Ideo.

Classroom = Problem; Ideo = Solution

When Mr. Rodriguez-Pastor presented Ideo with the daunting task of improving the current state of education in Peru, Ideo got right on it. In 2011, they began sending architects, mechanical engineers, ethnographers, communication designers, and education specialists into Lima and went straight to work. The result was an improved system called Innova Schools.

Through Innova Schools they hired experienced teachers and installed new technology in classrooms across Lima. They also redesigned rooms with sliding walls that allowed teachers to supervise two classes at once in an effort to promote their “blended learning model” that combined tech-driven independent study with teacher-led group study.

Ideo’s goal was to provide education that “emphasized academic excellence and was affordably priced for Peru’s emerging middle class.”

Now, that’s a goal Magoosh can get behind!

Where Values Merge

Challenge > Comfort

This is one value I see fueling Ideo’s efforts in Peru, and it just so happens to be one of my favorite values at Magoosh. Ideo didn’t back down from the challenges that Peru’s education system presented. They dove head first into a project they had never done before, and they came out victorious. We think that’s pretty cool.

At Magoosh, putting challenge over comfort means our team members strive to tackle new tasks they’ve never done before, they understand that the best progress often comes from uncomfortable situations, and they constantly challenge themselves to learn new skills.

Jumping into Peru to change an entire education system – yeah, that pretty much sums up “challenge > comfort.”

Change > Status Quo

It takes passion and courage to change the status quo. Ideo’s team has demonstrated that with the courage and dedication they’ve shown in Peru over the past three years. And their passion to redesign has fueled the positive change that Innova Schools is promoting.

At Magoosh, putting change over the status quo requires us to put heart into everything we do. As Magooshers, we love our jobs too much to call it work and we are passionate about helping students create positive change in their lives. Whether that’s by encouraging them that they can get that higher score on the GRE, explaining in detail how to work through even the most difficult questions, or releasing free practice material for those who need it, we love to generate change!

Having enough passion and courage to change the face of education in a whole other country—we see a lot of “change > status quo” in that, too.

Mad Magoosh Respect

So, a big high five to you, Ideo, for the awesome work you’re doing around the world.

As a former English teacher in Peru, I appreciate the work you’re doing in the communities I fell in love with down there. And I’m excited to see what your system will do as it spreads to more areas.

As a new Magoosh employee, I appreciate your dedication to upholding the same values that inform our decisions every day. Keep being game changers!

And as an education junkie, I say keep up the good work.

If you want to learn more about the work Ideo’s doing all over the world, you can check them out here: (their website is also really neat).




  • Maizie Simpson

    Maizie writes about Magoosh and gets others to talk about Magoosh. A graduate of the University of Arizona (Bear Down!) with a BA in Journalism, she loves nuanced grammar rules, learning strange languages, and traveling to new places. She has an unnatural obsession with Middle Eastern politics and Mexican food.