Bill Gates Fails Education 101, writes Walt Gardner on Reality Check.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post on Feb. 28, Gates argued that student achievement has remained virtually flat over the past four decades despite doubling per-student spending in K-12 schools because teaching is the one profession that has no clear indicators of excellence. . . His solution is 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.”
. . . First and foremost, inspired teaching is an art and not a science. As I’ve written often before, outstanding teachers often ignore the principles of effective instruction and still get remarkable results.
“Great teachers” are virtuosos, writes Gardner. Trying to imitate them is useless. At best, Gates’ proposal will turn out average teachers.
Great artists (or scientists) of instruction may not be able to transfer their genius to ordinary folk. But surely novice teachers can learn teaching craft from excellent, non-genius teachers. Those who lack the divine spark that makes a great teacher can aspire to be good teachers, maybe even very good teachers.