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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Bill Gates and The End of An Era.

Foreword from Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert.

Recently Bill Gates posted his note where he is reflecting on 2018 and looking forward in 2019.
The note contains 2665 words.
Word “Education” was used only three (!) times and very close to the end of the note.
Here is the quote: “How can we use data to gain insights into education … The use of technology in education. How much can software improve students’ learning? For years we have been hearing overheated claims about the huge impact that technology would have on education. People have been right to be skeptical. But I think things are finally coming together in a way that will deliver on the promises.” 

And that's that. 

And this is after spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
I read this as the sign of a defeat.
Transforming education turned out to be much harder than it was originally thought, and now Bill Gates does not know what to say about it, and what to do about it.
That is why in 2018 he has been focusing on such projects like:
* Alzheimer’s disease

* Polio

* Energy

* The next epidemic

* Gene editing

* Reinventing a toilet.
Of course, Bill Gates could say that he was not alone in his endeavor to reform education, he had advisers. But that would only tell us something important about his advisers, and also about Gate's associates who found those advisers, and again, about Bill Gates who hired those associates, wouldn't it (the "team of non-rivals", I guess)?

I expect that in one way or another eventually Bill Gates will re-turn to education, but when it happens he will be much more careful in making his claims. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to be brave enough to start from openly accepting his defeat, but that would have been the best first step in the new direction (there is a general pattern/algorithm for solving difficult problems).
There is, however, at least one area where his experience, even if it is mostly negative, could have been very helpful (in science a negative result is the result worth to be analyzed; this approach works in science, but it also could work in making a society better).
Bill Gates could have become the center of attraction and a reflective mentor to other rich philanthropists, like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos – of course, if those would like to join their forces. 

The chance of that happening, however, is very slim. As I have mentioned before in various publications (see some links below), our the most rich and powerful are more interested in feeling good about themselves than about the social results of their philanthropic actions. Why else every one of them wants to change the world singlehandedly?
  (From Five Projects Critical for Education)
It's not like "I want to help making the world a better place." 

It's more like "I, ______, want to make the world a better place!"

And BTW, there is nothing wrong with that

Wrong would be pretending that one is infallible.

But can you imagine what could they - our rich and famous - do together?
Together they could finally move a needle in reforming education and start the slow process of elimination of intellectual segregation in America (or another possible term "educational segregation").
This could mark the beginning of a new era in education.
This is a so lazy strategy - “We, philanthropists, call on all the innovators, come to us, apply for a grant - but follow all this restrictions we put in place, we will chose those who jumps the best through all our hoops”.  Want to do something really visionary? Create a team of professionals who would be traveling across the country seeking the actual talent - teachers who actually do an extraordinary job. Like an art treasure hunt, or like baseball scout do.
Another visionary project would be - saving the pockets of high intelligence. Americans are getting dumber and dumber. Not just less informed, not just more ignorant, but they are loosing their ability to reason. Maybe AI will eventually make this ability obsolete, and  robots will treat people like their pets. But I wold rather formed an institution solely responsible for study human intelligence and the ways to boost it on a mass scale, or at least to prevent its massive decline. So, I call on anyone close to Bill Gates - don’t be shy or scared - make him read some of my publications about him, and about education.

For curious people (the only people responsible for progress): Links to some publications on the matter (followed by a short slide presentation) which could help to design a better strategy for reforming education (naturally, some posts might share similar themes; I will fix it if I will decide to make them in a book):

Seven Reasons Why Rich Philanthropists Fail at Making Systemic Changes in Education

When reforms are due, too much of experience may be as bad as too little of it.; the case of Bill Gates.

A word of advice to Mark Zuckerberg: “You are not Steve Jobs, and that’s a good thing.”

The Beginning of The End of The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative

To Dr. Priscilla Chan (and everyone who is hungry): food for thoughts.

How much of the NSF funded fundamental scientific educational research is really fundamental?

Publicity v. the Mission, a Tough Decision For the NSF

Five Projects Critical for Education

Will the Yidan Prize Affect the Evolution of Education? Most probably - not.

"Backpack Full of Cash": pointing at a problem, not offering a solution

The Role of Education in The Contemporary World

One Education Trend That Will Revolutionize The Workplace.

On the science of teaching science

Vision v. Imagination: What Does a Venture Capitalist Use? 

Is The Cat Worth Be Saved? or A Curious Case of a Risky Entrepreneur.

Treat Education Like Space Exploration - the diagram

An Open Classroom; An Open School - a Concept of a Movement

The full list of the publications on the methodology of teaching science

=>>click HERE for the full list of posts on this blog


What is the difference between an expert and a professional?
A professional does what is needed to be done.
An expert explains - why.  
How do people become professionals?
By accumulating professional experience.
How do people become experts?
By reflecting on accumulated professional experience.
(C) Valentin Voroshilov
The mission (i.e. the reason for existence) of science as a human practice is making reliable predictions.
The mission of a scientist as an agent of that practice is discovering truth and presenting it in a testable form
The mission of a teacher is fostering in students his/her love for learning. 
The mission of a science teacher is sharing with students the feeling of pleasure from thinking.
The mission of a mentor is sharing with students the feeling of pleasure from doing the right thing.
The mission of a parent is making children feeling safe, loved, and confident.
The mission of humanity is making world a better place
(C) Valentin Voroshilov

In her book “Ghosts in the schoolyard” Eve L. Ewing talks about racism in education (I call it “intellectual segregation” or "educational segregation"); watch the interview at Racism has been there for hundreds of years. It is still here. And almost nothing is being really done about it. Click here to the link to the book.
am not an idiot or a reckless person. The reason I can allow myself writing what I think, even if that is perpendicular to commonly adopted and conventional views, is that my financial situation is sufficient and stable. Of course, as a normal person, I wouldn't mind making more money, or being involved in more interesting projects (as described in my generic resume). But I do not have to pretend to be someone I'm not to make my living. 

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