Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bill Gates and Teacher Spaghetti Sauce

Bill Gates is at it again.  For such a smart guy, it is amazing how dense he can be when it comes to education reform. To wit:
We can “flip the curve,” raising performance “without spending a lot more,” if we “measure, develop and reward excellent teaching." ... of all the variables under a school’s control, the single most decisive factor in student achievement is excellent teaching. To flip the curve, we have to identify great teachers, find out what makes them so effective and transfer those skills to others so more students can enjoy top teachers and high achievement.
SO, Billy, we have to identify great teachers and find out what makes them so effective. Then we have to transfer that to other teachers. That will flip the curve.

Hey !  "Find out what makes them so effective"???

If you don't know WHY the great teachers are great, how in Bloomberg's Bloomers can you say definitively that
  1. You can identify these great teachers and find out what makes them so effective.
  2. These unknowns are transferable.
  3. This transference will raise performance “without spending a lot more."
Sometimes life is like judging pasta sauce.

There might not be a best, only a best for you. That teacher might not be the BEST because you can't define best for more than one type of student. There are more types of teachers than there are types of spaghetti sauce. Go watch the Malcolm Gladwell talk at TED.

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