Gates Foundation: Lessons From Education Entrepreneurs

Valuable insights are gained by Bill and Melinda Gates since embarking on a philanthropic mission via their foundation. They recently discussed this on PBS’ Newshour
Warren Buffet with Bill and Melinda Gates
The Interview
Judy Woodruff posed challenging questions to the couple entrusted with billions in other peoples money:

“There’s been some improvement, but in terms of academic achievement, improved only slightly, and in math, it appears to have gone down. What lesson is there from that?”

From the mouth of Melinda:

“It would be great to work in just new schools or new models of schools, but we’re realizing that you have to work at the district and the state level. You have to have policy changes that support these 1,800 schools that we’re working in.”

“It would be nice if the curriculum that was there really worked, but, as you start to look at it, we’re realizing that the gains we’re making are in reading and in English[…]But you’re absolutely right: Math and science, there needs to be a curriculum change, and sometimes even teacher training to make sure that we’re teaching the right things to students.”

Bill provides an interesting insight, linking the foundation’s dual causes of promoting global health and modernizing the education systems:

“The impact of improving health is that the population growth goes down, and so you can educate more kids, feed more kids. It’s paradoxical that, when you have better health, families choose to have less children, because they’ve been having enough children so that they can be sure that a few of them will survive and take care of them. So as health improves, then all the other problems are dramatically easier to tackle.”

Listen to or read the full transcript of the interview.

Some Thoughts
A sure-fire attention killer is learning math for math’s sake; this was true for me in most subjects. As for todays youth, I’d bet that things haven’t changed much. I was lucky enough to be shown the “light”…the practical application of this knowledge opened a new world of possibilities. My motivation came as the result of finding more effective strategies to get what I wanted.

What Motivates a 10 Year-Old
G.I. Joe and He-Man
Those blue and white ticker tapes run across the TV every night my father (a banker) gets home – I eventually had to ask him, “What could possibly be so interesting about this that you watch it like it’s your religion?” I was facinated by the idea that people were earning money not by “going to work,” but just putting the money they earned into pieces of paper (You mean there’s a way to get EVERY Star Wars action figure besides mowing lawns!). As time passed, this led to discussions of financial statements, the various ratios derived from them that investors use value companies and the function of interest rates.

More Recently
I’ve been facinated by the analytics used in search engine rankings (although I have yet to actually delve into the topic, the interest is there…now, if only the time was).

So, what’s motivated you to learn what would otherwise be a dull topic?

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