Showing posts with label Bill Gates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill Gates. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Might Be the Worst Idea for "Fixing Education"

I cringe whenever I see a popular blog like Mashable run posts about "fixing education." Last week they ran a  post titled An Idea for Fixing Education: Skip College, Work at a Startup. The author of the article, Sarah Kessler,  proposes that students would be better served by spending two years in internships for these technology start-ups than they would be by going to college. I am all for students getting practical experience in the fields that they have an interest in working in, but to suggest that students can learn everything they need to know through a two year internship is ludicrous.

Internship experience is valuable if it is done correctly. Student teaching is a good example of internships done right because students get actual experience performing the job of teaching. Internships that turn students into glorified personal assistants don't benefit students. I'm not saying that these internships will do that to students, but even at their best good internships don't supply all of the other skills taught and experiences gained by spending four years college. 

Even if you think that spending two years in an internship is better than spending that time in college, committing to two years with an tech start-up is still a risky proposition. Tech start-ups rise and fall with remarkable speed. What happens to a student when the start-up fails one year into his internship? 

Yes, four years of college is expensive and students are increasingly taking on enormous amounts of debt, but the knowledge and experience good students gain are invaluable. An internship can be a part of that four year experience. An internship should not be a replacement for four years of education. The internships with which I am familiar expect that students already know how to write, research, and communicate. The internship is where those skills are refined and put to use in a career field. The internship is not where you learn those skills.

For the writers and editors at Mashable, please stick to making lists of Adorable Google Doodles for Valentine's Day and leave "fixing education" to educators before you send more students down a dangerous path. I know that you all think that anyone can become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates by dropping out of college and working on their tech start-ups. Just remember Zuckerberg and Gates graduated from exclusive prep schools and dropped out of Ivy League schools, so on some level they were already exceptional before they became exceptional. If you can afford (financially and personally) to go to and drop out of Ivy League schools then maybe you should just spend a couple of years at an internship. The rest of us should stay in school, graduate, and then work on building the next big thing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bill Gates Talks About Education

Through Kristen Swanson's Trail Blazer's wiki, I discovered this interesting TED Talk (they're all interesting) in which Bill Gates discusses mosquitoes, malaria, and education. The education part of his talk (the last eight minutes) presents some interesting fodder for conversation. One of the statistics that I found interesting was that obtaining a Master's degree in education does n0t significantly improve a teacher's effectiveness. In response to that statistic, Gates points to teachers reflecting on their practices and sharing their best practices with others. To encourage honest reflection on classroom practices, Gates advocates for video cameras in the classroom. While you may not agree with everything that Gates proposes in this talk, it will definitely make you think about what does and doesn't work in education. The talk is embedded below.


Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Doing What Works: Research-Based Education
TED Talk: 3 Ways the Brain Creates Meaning
Ten Trends to Affect Teaching in the Future (and now)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Bill Gates Speaking at Stanford

Earlier this week I wrote a brief bit about an interview Bill Gates did with CNET News. In that interview Gates stated that the value of Yahoo was in the engineers and their ideas not in the technology and market share already in existence.

In this video of Bill Gates speaking at Stanford, as you might expect, you will hear him speak about the future ubiquity of software applications. Toward the end of the video though you will hear Gates take a turn toward more humanitarian topics. Gates talks about world wide poverty and the role of technology in teaching students about poverty. Gates also speaks about the potential ability of technology to help lift world-wide living standards. Is Gates right, will technology help educate students about the plight of others? Will technology help to improve living standards?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Bill Gates Reminds Us That It's About People

Earlier this week in an interview with CNET News Bill Gates spoke about Microsoft's bid to take over Yahoo. As an educator what I found interesting was Gates's statement about the value of Yahoo being the staff of Yahoo engineers not Yahoo's current technologies, market share, or list of advertisers. Click here to read the full transcript of the interview.

Application for Educators
Gates reminds us that technology is very useful, but the people developing and using technology are what is really important. Gates is not interested in buying Yahoo for its current technologies instead he is after what has not yet been developed. Preparing students to be innovators and developers is an important aspect of our jobs as educators. Yes, we need to teach students to use and understand what is already available, but we also need to teach them to think outside the box.