My biggest problem with the role the Gates Foundation is playing in funding education is that Bill Gates and his foundation do not exhibit a very rich knowledge of institutionalized teaching and learning. I would suggest that Bill and Melinda Gates’ knowledge of education, teaching, and learning does not go beyond very common notions of individualistic meritocracies. I am yet to hear of any considered, or well-researched understanding of human learning within systems of social, institutional, economic, political, environmental, socio-economic, gender, hegemonic influence. They seem to have singled out the teacher as the greatest effector of educational accomplishment, but they leave out things like family security, institutionalized racism or sexism, socio-economic profiling by schools that group students into homohilic groups according to culture, socio-economic status, cultural capital, parents’ level of education, etc.
In particular, measuring student engagement without analyzing curriculum, architecture, season, individual circumstances, class composition, class size, high stakes testing and access to educational resources (as well as the ability to use those resources effectively) won’t tell us anything. If student are engaged, or whether they are not, only indicates that students, at a particular moment in the day, a particular day of the week, were in a particular frame of mind.
Do they expect teachers to keep students engaged for every moment they are in school? I would like to see anyone, including Bill and Melinda Gates, able to give that kind of attention, hour after hour, day after day, in the same institution, in the same surroundings. Don’t they realize how exhausting it is just being in school 5 days a week, 6 – 8 hours a day?
How do the mood rings measure the boredom, despair and hopelessness that students and teacher experience, trying to bring life into an institutionalize system of learning that is nothing but a factory badly designed to transfer knowledge?