Thursday, September 10, 2009

How is a teacher like an NFL Quarterback?

Wow, Malcolm Gladwell continues to blow my mind!

Most Likely to Succeed compares the difficulty of finding a good NFL quarterback with the difficulty of hiring a good teacher. How are the two similar? "There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they'll do once they're hired."

Some more quotes from the article:

"Teacher effects dwarf school effects: your child is actually better off in a "bad" school with an excellent teacher than in an excellent school with a bad teacher."

"A group of researchers ... have investigated whether it helps to have a teacher who has earned a teaching certification or a master's degree. Both are expensive, time-consuming credentials that almost every district expects teachers to acquire; neither makes a difference in the classroom."

Gladwell shows that good teaching trumps almost any other factor in education. My question is, "how do we use this"? His suggestion for the education field is to hire teachers without tenure and pay them based on performance, letting go those who are not good enough. An interesting suggestion, but determining teacher performance is always problematical.

How do you decide which teacher brings the most value to the school? How do you mesh teaching performance with contributions to the school like coaching sports teams, directing school plays, or supervising the student's council? How do you score quality versus quantity? Is it better to coach five mediocre sports teams or one National Champion?

If Malcolm can write an article about that, then he will REALLY blow my mind.

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