This Teacher Can No Longer Tolerate Bill Gates’ Ignorance and Apathy

UnknownDear Bill Gates,

This is now the third letter I am publishing on, a website that, by now, you surely must be well aware exists. There have been over 150 heartfelt and emotional posts published in the nine or so months since its inception, yet you have chosen, thus far, to ignore them all.

And that is the reason for my third letter to you today. I don’t know how I can tolerate your ignorance – your apathy – for much longer. Especially when I read “news” that quotes you as saying, “Maybe we can’t answer every tweet or post, but the authoritative voice on this is teachers.” Do you REALLY believe this, Bill? I doubt it.

Because if you had, you certainly would have at least taken a moment to address its existence.  But you can’t. Why? Because you’re too busy touting your claims of all-knowing excellence to the world and selling your products to fix the public education system in America.

I try to see the good in others; I TRY to believe that you really do think you are doing what is right for America’s public schools. Yet I can’t help but ask myself – after all this time – HOW COULD YOU? How could you think what you are doing is RIGHT? How could you really believe that you – a non-educator with a non-education degree and non-education experience – have all the “answers” to the inequality issues within American schools?

Let me help; you DON’T. The bottom line is, you are making a fortune from these reforms, and people are catching on, but not soon enough. Shame on you.

The reality is, Bill (sorry, but I no longer have enough respect to call you “Mister”), you are sacrificing our next generation for your own personal gain. And why do you even need it? Don’t you have enough?

You want to fix the public schools in America? Talk to Diane Ravitch. If anyone has the answers, she does. And I’m often afraid she’s killing herself trying to spread the word. Talk to people like me, to Katie, to Susan – people who have dedicated their lives to educating children. Yes, we might not have all the answers, but, frankly, we know a hell of a lot more than you do.

I’m tired, Bill. I’m tired of reading the BS that you sell to the media. I’m tired of the fact that, because of this all, I have moved myself and my three little boys to Dubai to escape what’s happening at home. It’s not so easy here, and I am homesick. But their lives, and especially their educations, far surpass what I know what they could get from the Boston Public Schools at this point, and so, for them, I persist in my struggle as angry as it makes me.

It’s time you acknowledge your many, many mistakes in education. You want to fix it? You certainly have more than enough money to do so, but for the love of God, let the TEACHERS direct you in how best to do that (like you pretend so very well that you have been).

And remember – we, the teachers – are involved in education because we have chosen to dedicate our lives to teaching children, a job which has little to no extrinsic rewards.
Why are you in it? Can I ask when you will decide to face the fire? It’s only a matter of time before it turns and burns you in the face, so you might as well do the right – the humane – thing, once and for all, before you ruin this country for good.

Yours Truly,
Jill O’Malley Conroy

P.S. In the future, can you please get the quotes you use to support your efforts directly from the teachers who (supposedly) stated them, and not from your “staffers”? Because, frankly, I don’t believe these people (teachers) exist. Thanks.

These quotes appeared in Bill Gates Comes to the Defense of the Common Core, which appeared on Huff Post Politics on 3/14/14.

“One teacher told a foundation staffer, Gates said, that under the current system, even top-performing kids aren’t prepared for college.”
“Everybody in my school is complaining about the lack of curriculum,” another teacher told a foundation staffer, according to Gates. “Now we have to jump all over the place and find extra materials to make things deeper and richer.”

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This entry was posted in Bill Gates, Billionaires, Capitalism, Corporate Education Reform, Edreform, Failing Schools, Invitation to Bill and Melinda Gates to dialogue with Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates, Jill Conroy, Monsters of EdReform, Our Schools Are NOT Broken, Privatization, Schools are not broken, Uncategorized, War on Public Education. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to This Teacher Can No Longer Tolerate Bill Gates’ Ignorance and Apathy

  1. “A New Kind of Problem: The Common Core Math Standards” Common core is anti-intellectual, anti-epistemological. It inverts the relationship between content and method. Between subject matter and pedagogy.

    Historically, mankind has learned to discover the principles of each field of knowledge by first engaging in the content of that field: observing, comparing, ordering, measuring, and classifying. Once content is ordered, it is possible to go to the next level of asking ‘why’ the natural order is what it is? Are there natural laws and principles that can be inductively discovered from the order? Are these principles universal for the subject under consideration? If so, we can test these principles or rules to see if we can arrive at true laws. Later we can apply these laws to new concretes. This is the process for the discovery of the basic laws of nature and of quantification. And all of this requires that the discoverer be deeply knowledgeable of philosophy, languages, arts, instruments, methods of observation, all of which can be brought to the new field of inquiry.

    And here is the key to the advancement of civilization: Once these laws have been recorded and published, they can be taught to others through lectures and, most powerfully, through text books and structured learning materials and instruments (such as one might find in a physics lab, or even a good culinary kitchen). Teaching previously codified knowledge through text books and pedagogical materials and instruments, allows knowledge to rapidly grow and spread across a civilization without requiring all people to go back to the basic gathering of primitive facts and rediscovering the general laws being taught. This is the principle of cognitive efficiency: learn from the knowledge of experts and men of wisdom.

    As for teaching, knowledge should be taught in a bottom up manner, in the same way that concepts are naturally formed, from the concrete to the general, starting with the basic foundations (empirical experiential primitives) of a field, and not by starting with the highest abstractions and treating them as foundational on the erroneous premise that the most all encompassing laws are the most basic laws, which must be taught first. Top-down teaching is anti-intellectual and anti-conceptual. Concepts are not formed top-down, they are formed bottom-up. There is no experiential base for grasping high-level abstract laws at the beginning of our struggle to learn about the world. So good text books start where the student is epistemologically.

    A young child can grasp similarities and differences in shape, size, density, texture, tone, color, etc. so long as the differences are sufficiently large to be easily noticed by the child. With practice, the child can learn to notice more subtle differences and even order them correctly relative to an appropriate dimension. This is the principle of the Montessori approach to sensory-motor learning in children. Her approach to mathematics is similarly incremental from learning to see the incremental differences between the cardinal numbers by using strings containing different numbers of object units (beads), and then encouraging the child to arrange the beads in a natural progressive order of increasing quantities based on ‘bead-string’ length, and later by creating three-dimensional constructions from beads having the same length, gathered into rectangular-like shapes. So here we see the basic concepts of quality, quantity, order, measurement, growing out of a WELL-STRUCTURED SET OF PEDAGOGICAL MATERIALS and a WELL-ORDERED EPISTEMOLOGICALLY SYNCHRONIZED PEDAGOGICAL METHOD based on the natural process of concept formation.

    The new Common Core is a direct violation of all of the above principles, it forces children to try to discover laws, rules and methods of solution before they have learned the basic subject matter and its intrinsic nature. They are asked to intellectualize before they have adequate content, and before they have any knowledge of the principles of theory and methodology.

    Why, you may ask is this happening? The answer starts with a perversion of J. J. Rousseau’s teaching methodology, found in his famous book ‘Emile’. Here Emile is deliberately kept away from civilized society, lest he acquire their thinking and judging habits. It is Rousseau’s model of the ‘Noble Savage’ that underlies this pedagogy. Society and civilization are filled with false idols, false standards of morality, and false social aims. In Rousseau’s view, the child should be allowed to discover the world for himself. But, Rousseau was no fool, for Emile was given a wise and sensitive teacher to guide the child toward this natural discovery process.

    Nothing in Emile specifies the relationship between teaching and concept formation, nor does it properly define the nature of concept formation and its relationship to clarity of perception nor the hierarchical nature of concepts.

    The current Common Core approach is in this sense, undeveloped dogmatic, pure Rousseau (without the wise and guiding hand of the teacher). Instead we see the unguided, frustrated, and angry child rebelling against his teacher’s demands that he ‘think’, ‘observe’, ‘discover’ and ‘invent’, when the child has not been taught the very skills needed to accomplish these things.

    It is important to remember that Rousseau had a powerful influence on the French revolutionaries, who sought to smash all of the institutions of civilization (its principles, its laws, its religions, and its markets) and build them up again based on their own devices (i.e., massive ignorance and arrogance). This model was, by the same motivation, embraced by the first and the current communist revolutionaries, all iconoclasts and utopians. Their goal then and now is to first make the child doubt the powers of his mind, feel totally submissive to the teacher and then, finally, submit to docility, ready to be fully indoctrinated by the the ‘wise’ leader who mysteriously knows the answers and ways of reality and who has such amazing skills to find the answers quickly. The child is told that his creative approaches are good because they are personal, even though they are far to difficult and far to undisciplined to ever be used in the end to teach others. Here we see the self-esteem mystics who believe that self-esteem is the cause not the consequence of achievement. BEWARE OF THE COMMON CORE PHILOSOPHY.

  2. John Young says:

    Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

  3. sahila says:

    funny thing is…. i worked for five months at microsoft and was present/part of beta testing of a new interactive display that was being introduced…. and it wasnt working…. and the reason it wasnt working, which was as plain to me as the nose on my own face, was because the designers had approached the concept and its implementation back to front….. they had created an upside-down pyramid — thrown all the content at the top, the inverted base – for consumers to see first, then offered information on applicability, then offered the pillars that supported the vision and then finally, at the apex of the pyramid – at the end cos they had inverted the pyramid – the vision…. and they couldnt figure out why people felt overwhelmed and didnt get it and lost interest very fast….

    i know how people work with material that’s presented to them (being a journalist and marketing/pr consultant) and i know about patterns…. they had a pattern of 1 , 3, 7 and 21 going – vision, pillars, applications and content …. and had presented that to people in the order of 21, 7, 3 and 1…. i pointed out the issue to them and they fixed it…. and didnt thank me and, in fact, fired me, because i ‘wasnt the face of microsoft’ they wanted the senior global business people and government leaders i interacted with, to see, despite my top of the range daily evaluations!….

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