Saturday, December 27, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell, "Most Likely To Succeed"

I love to read The New Yorker because I can pick it up, not be sure what I'm going to read about, but know that I'll walk away from it thinking new thoughts.

Case in point is the most recent article by Malcolm Gladwell titled, "Most Likely To Succeed" which is about spotting talent. What interested me most about the article is the discussion about finding good teachers to educate our children.  

Had I thought about this much before I read the article?  Nope.

In short, our education system is fucked. Put nicely by Mr. Gladwell, "If you rank the countries of the world in terms of the academic performance of their schoolchildren, the U.S. is just below average, half a standard deviation below a clump of relatively high-performing countries like Canada and Belgium."

However, despite the dire situation, the entry to become a teacher is difficult and discouraging. In addition, powerful teacher unions have made the pay structure very rigid and tenure somewhat easy to acquire. All of this means that it is very difficult to reform the system.

Gladwell makes the point that to enter the financial services field, not much more than a college education is required. It's dog eat dog... some will succeed and some won't, but the entry to the field is low. 

On the other hand, if I decide tomorrow that I want to quit trading and devote my life to teaching children, it would be very difficult. I'd have to get a masters degree (at least) which would be both financially difficult and logistically impossible (since I'm a Dad). It would take years before I entered a classroom and got down to business.

So basically, despite my interest, there are so many hurdles to overcome that I'll never become a teacher at this point.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to link the article and get some opinions about it, since I think it's very important.

And hey, it's the weekend... why not talk about something completely different for a change?