I think that we should measure and evaluate SOFTWARE companies!
Listening to comments of Bill Gates with regard to QUALITY are like listening to his comments with regard to INNOVATION. Both are subjects that he, demonstrably, knows very little about. Microsoft products have RARELY been known for their QUALITY, and most of Microsoft’s INNOVATION has been purchased, or copied from others, notably Apple in Cupertino. (I don’t even want to go into Microsoft’s anti-competitive behavior. They are a “convicted monopolist,” after all!) The ability to amass large amounts of money does not reflect upon a person’s ability in any area beyond that of amassing large amounts of money. If desktop operating system software were measured and evaluated objectlively, there would be no version of Windows beyond “Windows 2000,” in my humble opinion.
I find it, alternately, humorous and dangerous that we should listen to someone with little expertise in the field of education, merely because he has money to donate.
But what do we mean when we talk about great teaching? In my experience, the vast majority of teachers get zero feedback on how to improve.
That’s because for decades, our schools have lacked the kinds of measurement tools that can drive meaningful change. Teachers have worked in isolation and been asked to improve with little or no feedback, while schools have struggled to create systems to provide feedback that’s consistent, fair and reliable.
That’s why the Gates Foundation supported the Measures of Effective Teaching, or MET, project. The project was an extraordinary, three-year collaboration between dozens of researchers and nearly 3,000 teacher volunteers from seven U.S. public school districts who opened their classrooms so we could study how to improve the way we measure and give feedback about great teaching.
So Bill Gates funded a study. Very nice. Why should the founder of a company that has repeatedly failed to produce high-quality or innovative software be permitted to tinker, through financial influence, with the educational system of the U.S.? Is he somehow uniquely qualified?
I also have opinions about education in this country, particularly with the need for students to pursue higher education in math and the sciences. My belief lies closer to the concept of “natural selection.” When mathematicians and scientists in the U.S. receive the kind of PAY and recognition that they have earned, there will be no shortage of them. So long as people who pursue, for example, business degrees, earn far more than folks who spend more time and hard work in math and science, many potential mathematicians and scientists will take “the easier way out” and, as a result, be better able to support their families, perhaps to the detriment of their country. In some other countries, mathematicians and scientists receive the pay and recognition that they deserve.
As for Gates, I think that he should focus on using his money and influence to clean up the mess at Microsoft and to see whether his opinions and theories can engender high quality and innovation THERE.
Then, perhaps, others outside of high tech will take his comments more seriously.
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