Home > Uncategorized > Gates and Zuckerberg ALMOST Have it Right This Time… Bottom Up is Better Than Top Down… BUT… $$$ Still Matters

Gates and Zuckerberg ALMOST Have it Right This Time… Bottom Up is Better Than Top Down… BUT… $$$ Still Matters

May 18, 2018

A recent Fast Company article by Jim Shelton, president for education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Bob Hughes, director of K–12 Education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shows that both tech entrepreneurs are on the right track… but they are still missing one key point. In the article, Mr. Shelton and Mr. Hughes are reaching out to educators and parents seeking specific examples of programs that are working to help students learn three key skills for success: mathematics; non-fiction writing; and executive function, the skill set concerning memory, self-control, attention, and flexible thinking. They hope that by identifying practices that work in these areas they will be able to establish an R and D element to education that is lacking. And… if their concluding paragraphs are any indication, they realize that hands-on grassroots approaches identified by actual teachers are better than top-down technological approaches devised by code writers:

The purpose of the initiative is not to mandate anything. It’s to learn from the work that’s currently happening in classrooms, universities, entrepreneurial efforts, and research centers throughout the country. We hope to see a wide range of approaches and ideas; technology is not a primary focus, but we recognize the role it can play in affordable access to high-quality education for all. No personally identifiable student data will be collected in this RFI.

In the months ahead, we’ll share what we learn about the crucial work being done in the three named areas, along with ideas for how to accelerate progress, breakthroughs, and scale. We believe these findings can guide potential grant making as well as bolster the entire field through a better understanding of breakthroughs now taking place in and out of traditional education. We’re excited to find ways to increase collaboration and lift those breakthroughs out of isolation so that everyone can benefit.

I wish that politics and money didn’t matter in public education… but both will undoubtedly play a role when the time comes to apply research and collaborate. As long as politics is in the picture, though, students flexible thinking skills might be students if they want to question the history being presented to them, the science behind climate change and (ahem) even evolution, and the notion that all students learn at the same rate of speed in all content areas. And as long as money is part of the equation, the affluent districts will be able to accelerate progress, introduce breakthroughs, and move to scale much quicker than their poorer colleagues in districts that are strapped for money.

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