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To: P.O. Box 0101110101

February 28, 2011

Bill Gates for the Washington Post, on teacher development.

Dear Mr. Gates,

Firstly, thank you for all the work you’re doing – researching, funding, and supporting education. You are making an effort to improve the educational experience of children all over the world, and that is truly commendable and very helpful.

Although you didn’t specifically put it this way, I think it’s important to make clear that a “crisis in education” shouldn’t be pegged with the country’s economic standing. I hear a lot of politicians justifying spending on education by showing what it can do for our country economically or politically. Sure, if we started doing some in-vitro math drills, we might end up with American 6-year-olds who surpass other 6-year olds on meaningless tests, but there would be a cost, and it would most likely be playing around with glue and paper scraps, which I think is really important. I’m terrified to think that educational policies are being written by those looking out for our nation’s prosperity and economic standing, rather than for, oh you know, our children.

Again, you didn’t put it this way, but when I hear the U.S. being compared to educational systems elsewhere, I certainly start thinking about politics. I don’t think I’m the only one. What does it say for our society if the primary way we justify education is for the economic gain of our country? I think the end-goal of most parents isn’t to raise children that are economically competitive, but to raise children who are happy and have the tools to reach their goals. I hope you agree.

Right on about giving teachers feedback and training to improve the quality of education for students.  In my school, we use videotapes of ourselves to discuss what-went-well and what-was-crap (these aren’t the professional terms), and it is terrifying but extremely helpful as a teacher. When I read this, I thought about the trend in many U.S. school districts of replacing administrative positions traditionally held by educators, and instead, seeking business-oriented resumes. Although delegating business-y things to an appropriately minded person would free up administrators to help in the classroom and give feedback, what I notice is that these people are being REPLACED by people who have little or no educational background. Who will provide the feedback? Who will provide the training? I say this, also, with the pretext that my own administrator has helped shaped my beliefs and strengthened my skills in the classroom, and I can’t imagine what kind of teacher I’d be otherwise. On a side note, have you ever watched yourself on video? It’s truly a horrific experience, but gets better after the first few times.

Also, if you could make a way to embed video into Publisher documents, my student portfolios would be totally rad.

xoxo Lauren

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2011 4:29 am

    lol! Thank you, you speak for many, myself included.

  2. March 28, 2011 2:03 am

    Just catching up on your blog today, and wanted to thank you for this post and the one about being ‘from’ somewhere. I love your blog!

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