Monthly Archives: February 2009

Do I Need To Be More Blue?

Do I Need To Be More Blue?

A wise person knows how to make the exception to every rule. A wise person knows how to use moral rules to serve other people, not to manipulate them. A wise person is like a jazz musician, using the notes on the page, but dancing around them, inventing combinations that are appropriate for the situation and the people at hand. A wise person is made, not born. Wisdom requires experience. You don’t need to be brilliant to be wise — but without wisdom, brilliance isn’t enough. It’s as likely to get you into trouble as anything else. — Barry Schwartz, author of the Paradox of Choice, in another great talk from TED 2009, on wisdom, and the dangers of not allowing people to learn it and exercise it

In his presentation last week at TED, Bill Gates talked about two of the most important issues he’s working on. I highly recommend listening to all 20 minutes, and especially the last half on education. I found the parallels between having a good manager and a good teacher interesting. In case you don’t have time for all 20 minutes now, here are a few points to whet your appetite.

o If you are low-income in the US, you are more likely to go to prison than to college.

o If you count those who drop out before their senior year, the high school drop-out rate in the US is 30%, 50% for those from low-income families.

o A good teacher (in the top quartile) raises student test scores so much, that if we had only top quartile teachers in the US, we would surpass Japan’s scores within two years, and blow the world away by the fourth year.

o We do not reward or seek out those factors creating a top quality education. Teachers are rewarded instead for tenure and their own degree of higher education. You’ll need to see the presentation to view the graph showing the impact of that Master’s degree on teaching quality.