Surowiecki on Teacher Training

November 10, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

James Surowiecki takes his time getting to the punchline in this sports/education analogy and makes a loose assertion or two of the journalistic sort, but is still worth a look. Cliff Notes version: sports training has vastly improved in the last 40 years, most everything has done the same, but our training of teachers still stinks.

One thought that occurred to me in reading this article. Let’s assume that teacher training is a rotten as this and many other articles assume. The former dean of Columbia Teachers College laid out in painful detail the shortcomings of American teacher training in a series of searing reports, so I can’t see much reason to believe otherwise.

Having said that, I’ve always been a bit mystified by the Finland narrative. If someone brought the Finnish Minister of Education over to the United States to run the show with the imperial power of fiat, it seems to me that the first thing he or she would do would be to close the nation’s Colleges of Education and start over. What am I missing here?

I’m all for attempting to improve teacher training, but the system we send new teachers into has plenty of other problems. It would be great to be able to train people to overcome all to often dysfunctional district systems of schooling marred by low-turnout elections heavily influenced by organized employee interests, but that sort of immunization sounds a bit far-fetched. Best to train teachers well and give them a reasonable system in which to thrive imo.




So Put All the Blame on VCR…

October 11, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Interesting read from James Surowiecki on how Netflix killed Blockbuster, and how Netflix itself could be next. Blockbuster’s “Clicks and Mortar” strategy turned out to work about as well as “balanced literacy.”

I suspect however that “Clicks and Mortar” has a brighter future in education if we can get the education market to reflect a small fraction of the dynamism of the movie rental market.