Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gates on learning

Bill Gates has some interesting things to say about the future of education in this video. All in all, I agree with what he says, with some additions.


Gates: K12 school is designed to baby-sit kids while adults get on with their jobs/lives. So he doesn’t see much change here, apart from home schooling which is still only 3/4% of provision. In fact, success in schools seems to be on even more schooling and immersion, namely longer school days, summer catch-up.

He’s fundamentally right here, in that the system will remain intact for a long time. However, he short changes the idea that technology may allow us to get better results without simply adding to the length of the school day. The answer to poor schooling has always been more schooling – but do we really want to inflict this on children? I’d say the answer is better schooling. It is not possible to do this through better teaching, curriculum change, revolutionising the concept of homework, vocational recognition, reducing costs through technology?


Gates: Feedback, discussion, video etc make technology an increasingly sophisticated method of learning.

Absolutely, we are nowhere near realising the potential of a) what we’ve already got, b) what’s available for free, c) increasing the productivity of educational institutions through the use of technology to manage and deliver learning.


Gates: Universities/Colleges need to be less place based. A $200,000 education is too expensive, inefficient, outdated and increasingly hard to get. Only technology can get this cost down to, not $20,000 but $2000.

Too true. The tyranny of time and location plague our system and have raised the costs to unsustainable levels. There’s far too many (mostly empty) buildings, far too many 2nd and 3rd rate researchers far too many poor teachers and far too little access to good content and real critical thinking tools and opportunities.


Gates: No room for innovation in the standard system. Some experimentation but should be about 20 times as much.

This is his most profound point and the one that poses the greatest problem. The belief set, structures and funding methods mitigate AGAINST change and INNOVATION. Vice Chancellors settle, not for leadership, but maintaining the status quo. In the UK, as I was told by a retired Vice Chancellor, it’s chasing an OBE, CBE or knighthood by not rocking the boat.

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Blogger MANTEX said...

Paragraph two under schools. That last sentence should start "Is it not ..." - because it's a question.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Is that it?

1:03 PM  
Anonymous vtlau said...

That is the sentence that confused me. Donald did you mean better schooling is a different thing from better teaching, etc.???

2:52 AM  
Anonymous A.D. said...

Only slightly on topic, but I was just looking for somewhere recent to post this for you - have you seen the BBC Two's School Season?

A highlight is the year 5 & 6 "under performing" boys who built themselves a classroom outdoors in Gary Malone's Extraordinary Boys...sounds right up your street Donald!(Still on iPlayer for now)

7:49 PM  

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