"Our teachers deserve better."

Bill Gates begins his TED Talk by focusing on the importance of feedback when trying to improve at any job or skill, even if it’s just bridge playing (Gates’ presentation includes photos of himself playing cards with his bridge coach).

“Unfortunately,” Gates says, “there’s one group of people who get almost no systematic feedback to help them do their jobs better. And these people have one of the most important jobs in the world.  I’m talking about teachers.” According to Gates, “until recently, over 98% of teachers just got one word of feedback: satisfactory.”

“The system we have today isn’t fair to them,” he continues. “It’s not fair to students and it’s putting America’s global leadership at risk. So today, I want to talk about how we can help all teachers get the tools for improvement they want and deserve.”

Gates goes on to look at other countries where there appears to be a correlation between students’ academic achievement and the fact that the country has a formal system for helping teachers improve. He then suggests an evaluation system and tools to help teachers, developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates speaking at TED Talks Education
Bill Gates
Speaker, TED Talks Education

Bill Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 1975, Bill Gates founded Microsoft with Paul Allen, and led the company to become the worldwide leader in business and personal software and services. In 2008, Bill transitioned to Chairman to focus full-time on his foundation’s work to expand opportunity to the world’s most disadvantaged people. Along with co-chair Melinda Gates, he leads the foundation’s development of strategies to take on some of the world’s toughest challenges: extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries, and improving America’s education system.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to ensuring that all students in the United States have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. The main areas of focus in education for the foundation include the College-Ready Education program which aims to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and the Postsecondary Success program which works to increase the number of young people who obtain a postsecondary degree or certificate with labor-market value.

  • starfire345

    I am not happy that the Gates Foundation is supporting the “parent” takeover of a tiny California school. They are not parent supported – they are a for-profit group who manipulated and forced parents to vote for this. And the Gates Foundation was listed as a backer of this push by unscrupulous group. Please look into this and withdraw your support of the tiny California town and school system. The people don’t want it and are not being allowed to withdraw their name from the petition they signed without understanding just what was happening. Many were actually threatened with loss of jobs and by being deported.

  • Douglas Tooley

    Having Bill Gates talk about education is like having Ted Bundy talk
    about women’s rights, the prognosticators only revealing the core of
    their evil. Education for Bill Gates is like his company, not meant to
    empower creative individuals but to build monoliths of bureaucratic

    Curiously, the evidence to both of these malicious individuals arises from the same educational institution, the University of Washington, most notably its School of Law – where the politico Bundy was given free reign and the local lobbyist/bond underwriter firm of Gates Sr made, tellingly, one of its first pre-Foundation forays into
    ‘public relations’. That’s a subject I’ve written on, a story also
    picked up by the more mainstream Rick Anderson, in the Seattle Weekly.

    This comment has been edited for length to keep to theme of TED Talks Education.

  • stefanteach

    I am watching Bill Gates on TEDTalks right now. He is making good points, but make no mistake, every reform he is advocating exists in one form or another in many public education systems, but they struggle to get their community’s attention.. In Rochester, NY, we have a Peer Assistance and Review program that does exactly what he proposes. We have had great success, but we don’t get too much attention as we go about the consuming business of making the program work. I have been working on a Teaching American History grant that takes teachers through a lesson study process similar to one he described. The Congress dropped the funding for the program. All the incentives being encouraged by well-funded foundations (like the Gates Foundation) push a top-down model of reform that is driving out the inspiring teachers who are tired of answering to middle managers who are far more interested in compliance than a passion for students. Everything that is being proposed can be done if we listen to teachers. Despite everything you hear, teachers (and yes, their unions) are interested in reforms that involve teachers in their planning and implementation toward sensible changes that directly solve our most pressing educational challenges.

  • http://twitter.com/r_manca Roberto Manca

    Bill can see this movie with my students ? http://youtu.be/iJp5NfoKaKo

  • Jan Carson

    Interesting that he proposes 5 billion in technology spending. Make no mistake… education “reformers” are all about profits to big tech companies. And that comparison to teacher salaries… grossly propagandized. Not only does he fail to mention any other technology that schools must budget, but it seems to me he’s hoping the television audience is shocked by the amount spent on teachers (Is anyone surprised that he managed to purchase a television audience through his charitable fund?). And the money spent on teachers, by the way, isn’t nearly enough when you consider that our students would be far better served by smaller class sizes and more teachers than by more technology. And more propaganda: “Our teachers deserve…” Well crafted sir… you instill doubt and suspicion in the minds of the public even as you appear generous and kind. Bill Gates isn’t remotely kind or genuinely altruistic; he serves the interest of profit first and foremost, and is willing to take it on the backs of teachers and underprivileged kids. When will he have enough?

  • Craig B. McKee, Hong Kong

    Even an 11th grader can see Bill Gates is WRONG:
    And besides, what “insights” into education can/should we expect from a college DROPOUT, anyway?

  • cricy simon

    i need a help in suporting child hood learning situation and environmental protectio in tanzania ,we face alot of the problems on these issues especially in shelter, food and school uniforms for these students even the lerning materials we are lacking on it… please back to us

  • John Constantine

    These are educators of children who have different needs. This isn’t a business that has only the needs of the business to care about! When an employee fails to meet the needs of the business you fire them. When a child doesn’t need the needs of Common Core, what are you going to do to them? You going to make them suffer and fire a teacher for the inadequesies of a group of children that are under achieving? The best educators in the nation have children that don’t cut it! Over 80% of students failed the standardized test through Common Core. This includes your top honors students. Should we fire every teacher? Common Core cares about one thing and one thing only and it’s not the teachers and more importantly, it’s not the children!

  • Medicherla Venkateswara Rao

    Mr.Gates is practical. People instead of encouraging, try to find out loopholes in every generous program. It is to easy to point out others,but have you tried any thing ever in your life. Do it. You will know how difficult it will be to bring a small change in the Society.
    Sir,you carry on with your ideas.

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