Trends in Ed: Gates Goes to TED

| March 4, 2011

Bill Gates kicked off his guest-curated session at TED yesterday, called “Knowledge Revolution,” with some brash new prescriptions for educational reform.  He castigated states for bad prioritizing and budget gimmickry.  “It really is this old versus young,” he said. “Education will be cut to pay for pensions and health care.” Although the video is not yet available, he seems to have followed a script he has been pushing for some time now, including in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

He also attacked prevailing practices within the public education world, such as pay raises for seniority or greater accreditation.  He argued that better teachers should be given more students to teach, cutting against the conventional wisdom that small class sizes provide better learning environments.

Gates’ punchy presentation preceded several more on the topic of educational innovation, including a talk by Salman Khan, the famous creator of the online education service Khan Academy.   Gates has been a big supporter of the Khan Academy, which provides video tutorials and tracks student progress.

After Gates’ talk, the audience (reportedly) relaxed, relieved that this time, at least, he hadn’t threatened to infect them with malaria.