Bill Gates and Education... What's the Grade? | Mom Blog: written by a teacher-mom, but not just for moms- a blog for everyone

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bill Gates and Education... What's the Grade?

Just a tad perturbed here at Bill Gates as I finished reading a blog that focused on some of his recent points dealing with education. So disappointing, as I think Bill has earned a failing grade. (my opinion, of course)

Bill, Bill, most would say, you are a gifted man. But here is the deal. Gardner's Multiple Intelligences state that there are multiple intelligences and that we are not typically gifted in all areas. You, for one, seem to be gifted in the area of Logic and Mathematics. In case you are struggling with what that means, you have the .....

ability to use reason, logic and numbers. These learners think conceptually in logical and numerical patterns making connections between pieces of information. Always curious about the world around them, these learner ask lots of questions and like to do experiments.

problem solving, classifying and categorizing information, working with abstract concepts to figure out the relationship of each to the other, handling long chains of reason to make logical progressions, doing controlled experiments, questioning and wondering about natural events, performing complex mathematical calculations, working with geometric shapes

Possible career paths:
Scientists, engineers, computer programmers, researchers, accountants, mathematicians

A teacher on the other hand is typically gifted in the area of Verbal/Linguistic. They have the....

ability to use words and language. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and are generally elegant speakers. They think in words rather than pictures.

Their skills include:
listening, speaking, writing, story telling, explaining, teaching, using humor, understanding the syntax and meaning of words, remembering information, convincing someone of their point of view, analyzing language usage.

Possible career interests:
Poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, translator

Back to Bill Gate's points on education as referred to in the blog Get Schooled.

One point made is that research teams are analyzing videos of more than 13,000 lessons – focusing on classes that showed big student gains so it can be understood how the teachers did it. At the same time, teachers are watching their own videos to see what they need to do to improve their practice.

Big student gains.... ????

I will agree that there is a lot to say about having a great teacher in the classroom (kudos for that point), but there are so many factors that I do hope are being looked at. Kids have so much going on in their lives... divorce, deaths, teasing, friendship problems, not eating a good breakfast... the list goes on. I have had students lose parents.  It does affect them academically.  I have taught kids where a parent was arrested at school.  It does affect them academically. So, before you look solely at lesson plans and a select group of teachers and their accomplishments, you won't get to the root of it all until you look closely at each individual inside AND outside the classroom. Take a look at how many of those kids had parents helping them with their homework, how many of those kids have a mom that stays home, how many of those kids were involved in sports as well as academics. You have to look at the whole picture, Bill.

Another point made was that other professions have success based on performance.That's great for professions such as an engineer (kids... computers.... I don't see a resemblance), but are you going to pay a doctor based on whether his patient took the medicine that was prescribed? Use your logic to figure that one out, Bill.

The points go on and on... the next one being that another standard feature of school budgets is a bump in pay for advanced degrees. Such raises have almost no impact on achievement, but every year they cost $15 billion that would help students more if spent in other ways

If I am not mistaken, the only degrees Bill Gates has are honorary degrees from schools such as Harvard and a few more. Um.... at least some of us earned our degrees by going to class. I think Good Ole Bill is basing this point on the fact that he has earned so many millions, or is it billions, without having ONE degree, so obviously they are worthless in his eyes... makes sense, right? Oh, that one deserves a LOL.

I just have a problem with a college drop-out giving advice on education. I don't care how much money you have or the math/logic giftedness, my logic tells me that just doesn't cut it.

NOTE:  I hope I did my research properly... everything I read on the internet related to education for Bill Gates said he was a college drop out.  Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.  I didn't have access to Bill to ask him personally.

Yet another point I read from Bill Gates was that the most expensive assumption embedded in school budgets – and one of the most unchallenged – is the view that reducing class size is the best way to improve student achievement. This belief has driven school budget increases for more than 50 years. U.S. schools have almost twice as many teachers per student as they did in 1960, yet achievement is roughly the same.

If that's the case Bill, let's just build a lecture hall and teach with a podium and microphone. Oh wait, that would go against hands on learning.  But, that does sound like something a powerhouse mega millionaire would do when he is lobbying for change in education... speak from behind a podium to a bunch of politicans that haven't been in a classroom since their graduation, and then they darted out so fast, you would have thought someone lit a match under their a**. Here is the deal, Bill....have you ever seen one of those clown cars where the clowns just keep piling out? It works in the circus but not in the classroom. They don't build lecture halls in schools today, they build classrooms, and classrooms hold a select number of students. Just ask any teacher if it is a more productive classroom when you have five fewer students. But, wait!!! Here is another point. There are some students that are equal to teaching five students (you may not know what that means Bill because you have never been a teacher), so just take one kid out and save some more money..... but no, we teachers take all kids and we vow to do the best we can do.  It's just in our nature, Bill.

And a last point is that approach is to get more students in front of top teachers by identifying the top 25 percent of teachers and asking them to take on four or five more students. Part of the savings could then be used to give the top teachers a raise. (In a 2008 survey funded by the Gates Foundation, 83 percent of teachers said they would be happy to teach more students for more pay.)

Wait, Wait.... I can be in the top 25% if you give me all the kids that are highly motivated, have loving caring parents who work and care about their education.  Top that with my desire to teach and excel in the classroom and I will make the top 25%.  Ohhhhhhhh,  you see, that won't work because the only thing I have control over is ME and what I do in the classroom. I can't control all of those other factors that were mentioned above.

Plus, how many teachers participated in that survey? Where did those teachers reside? What was their current teaching environment? Bill, I have taught in some schools where I had kids bashing each other against the dryer in the bathroom, looking at each other across the classroom caused a fight, food was not to be eaten, it was to be thrown..... you probably don't have that happen in fine restaurants where you wine and dine.
On a final note, I love the profession of teaching, as I have been in the classroom for fifteen years. I strive to be the best teacher I can be. I think anyone that has ever taught with me would agree. Good teachers make a greater difference than poor teachers, that is a no-brainer. You don't even have to have that college degree to figure that one out. Just get your facts straight Bill, and learn a little more about what it is like to be a teacher before you go increasing class size and basing our salary on performance.

Final thought to Bill:  I do think your intentions are good, but the next time my computer fails me, your pay should be docked!

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sandbox gems said...

I wasn't familiar with Bill Gate's take on education but I enjoyed reading your response to it. You brought up excellent points and I would tend to agree with you wholeheartedly. Teachers are facing some really tough environments right now and more and more good teachers are burning out and leaving for other professions. It's really sad to see. Too much is dumped on the teacher's plate when parents can't or won't step up to taking control of their children. Then teachers are getting squeezed from administrators and policies that bind them to ridiculous rules. It's not one size fits all. I'm not a teacher but I have a BF who is and a sister in law who is and I hear a lot!

Molly said...

Thanks so much for sharing. This is a topic I have many opinions on, as you very well could see :-)I appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog!!

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PragmaticMom said...

Amen to your post! I am not a teacher but as a mom who volunteers at lot at school, your points are absolutely true including bill gates failure to graduate. Adding more kids to a classroom is ridiculous and there are classrooms at my kids schools that max out at around 28 kids. Yes, each kid needs a desk Bill and no there aren't bunk bed desks.

Bill, there is also a large increase in Special Needs kids since you graduated from elementary school and they are now integrated into the classroom not segregated like when you were a kid.

Maybe Bill should take some time teaching as a substitute teacher in various schools incognito. He can test his theories out that way.

Seriously, I think he should do that.