I always enjoy the TED talks and the last part of this one really caught my eye, as Bill Gates was talking about education. In this talk, Bill Gates mentions that traditionally the top 20% of students have always got a good education, leading to the revolution in technology and biotechnology that has kept the US ahead. However he is concerned that the balance of education is getting weaker while the economy is increasingly only giving opportunities to those with advanced education. Bill Gates highlights the inequity: low income students are more likely to end up in jail than getting a university degree.
He goes on to pose the question: How do you make a teacher great? He looks at the top quartile of teachers and notes that once someone is at the top for 3 years they tend to stay there. Interestingly he has found that having a masters degree has no effect at all on performance!
He finishes by saying that education is the most important thing to get right for the country to have a strong future.
I have come back to this blog post again, having now read an article entitled What Makes A Great Teacher from The Atlantic. This article identifies certain traits common in the most successful Teach for America teachers which include: