May 1, 2010

Goldstein on Gates

While some of us have been taking on Albany and Wall Street this past week, Arthur Goldstein has been aiming at a whole other target over at Gotham.

Bill Gates — for whom we don't have to look very far for appropriate metaphors.
GOLDSTEIN: "I don’t trust him, and I don’t think he knows much about education, despite the millions he throws around imposing his pet projects on us."
I got a little harsh with Gates myself back in January of last year, when I called him an Ed-Dabbler. So, it shouldn't be any surprise that I agree with Arthur completely, and with the comments people have been posting.

Gates's Measure of Effective Teaching project does smack of big brother and omits inconvenient factors like class size. The UFT's collaboration on this project is misguided, if not downright harmful, and Leonie Haimson is right when she says NYC teachers should boycott the whole darn thing.

No matter how hard anyone tries, Gates's dupes will not come up with any suggestions for good teaching that haven't been around for centuries:
Know your stuff thoroughly

Speak clearly

"Tune in" to the students

Set and hold standards of behavior and scholarship

Mark lots of papers

Call parents, and

Teach from the heart.
Do all this all of the time and you'll really be good at your job. Do anything more than this and you'll be spectacular. But for that, you'll have to have the kind of talent no one can measure, no one can duplicate, and no one can evaluate separately from the group of students in front of you at any given moment.

Because all good teachers know that great teaching is an ephemeral mix of all the talent in the room, not just the teacher's. What each student brings to each class is part of the whole experience, whether he or she has a positive influence on the room or a negative one, whether he's gifted, challenged, introverted, extroverted, healthy, out of sorts, lovelorn, hungry and all the rest.

It is a dull drudge who will follow a rubric designed by a committee paid to come up with something.

Good teaching doesn't change. Only politics does.

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