February 1st, 2013
02:25 PM ET

Bill Gates on what makes a good teacher

Fareed speaks with Bill Gates about education – and what we know about why some teachers are more successful than others. For the full interview watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

What is it that makes a good teacher?

Well, it turns out that the way you engage the class [makes] a critical difference.  So an average teacher comes in – and it’s only through research we know this – and they pretty much know what they're going to present during that class.

And looking at the students – and seeing if they're sort of fidgeting, moving their leg – there's a lack of energy in the room going in, asking them questions, getting them engaged, seeing if they can relate to the topic.

The best teacher is very interactive. It's more performance oriented. And that is something that teachers that have gotten feedback can watch [and] do it well.

Calming the classroom down – there’s quite a range of capabilities there. So you often waste 5ive to 10 minutes at the start of the class. That’s not working well.

You know I think it’s fantastic that we’re finally getting to the bottom of why are those amazing people so good. And we're not saying we can get everybody to the very top. But at least we can do a lot better.

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Topics: Education

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. 100 % ETHIO

    We spent lots and lots of MONEY, you keep collecting them, and you become Billionaire.

    That is the problem.

    Jewish does not spend, but just grabbing only.

    That was 1/5 reason, Nazi did not like about them.

    You Bill, too much.

    February 1, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Hmm

      To 100% Ethio: You read an article about Bill Gates and education. Your mind went straight to "Jews are greedy, that's why Nazis didn't like them." Although of course, you failed to even express this idiotic statement in proper English. I think you should refrain from commenting on education until you can formulate a sentence better than a kindergartener. What is the definition of a stupid bigot? I can give several, but a pretty decent one would be, "If you are reading an article about a rich WASP and his thoughts on education and it makes you think of greedy Jews and justifying the Holocaust," you're probably a stupid bigot.

      February 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  2. Tom Collins

    Students learn when students are engaged. Hear that students? If a teacher has students that care about their own education those students succeed. However, what about the 75% of teachers that have classrooms filled with students that don't care about school? Is it that they just aren't good enough at sales?

    February 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  3. 100 % ETHIO

    "What is that makes a good Teacher?".


    What makes a good Student?

    Those who were learnt very successfully in their School years, are the only one, who could make it to become, awesome Teachers'.

    However, SAFETY becomes the main issue, nowadays.

    How safe?


    February 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  4. 100 % ETHIO

    .....how safe are we to live, learn and teach?

    Since the last several years, America becomes the home of varies professional terrorist groups.
    Our Government does not inform US, until its too late.

    As a Teacher, who are you going to teach about Nuclear energy?
    Bio-Chemical energy?

    Most talented Teachers are worried. Do you agree?

    are the terrorist Jewish Organization and Network, that operates World-wide. They go also by different names.

    Their aims are, violent against non-Jewish and Government Officials.

    So many Muslim and Muslim-Arab terrorist groups:

    Including Babbar Khasa International. (BKI).
    The Punjab State separate groups.

    And others,.......

    So, without considering safety and Security, how we are discussing to share American best knowledges to the unknown-known or/and to the known-unknown-known?

    When you go to work,
    have you left your house door-opened, with valuables in it, when no one to look after it?

    What other lessons?

    Good luck.

    February 1, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  5. rightospeak

    Sounds like nonsense. What is your point , Bill ? The American teaching is known for the poor quality. Our high schools produce illiterates and young people with no skills to face the world , because the teachers are too busy teaching them Multiculturalism and Globalist Agenda. If you are not careful , your child will fall through the cracks and will not be able to read-no one seems to care. I am writing from personal observation and I even have a teaching certificate so I know what I am writing about.
    When it comes to education I really have an axe to grind. If a child , particularly a boy is full of life , is acting in a class the teachers give him DRUGS to calm him down so that they have easy time to get their money. It is a national shame and I hope that some of these people will be put in jail. The sooner the better. Zoloft KILLS their brains , you idiots. My brilliant grandchild , funny, helpful, just started to ride a bike. He had a natural curiousity, was quick and was probably bored in school. They said he acted up so he was given drugs because some idiot psychiatrist recommended it .After the school treatment my grandson was never the same- how many other children were damaged like he was. Home schooling was the only option left- he became autistic and I believe because he was given drugs. It is my personal tragedy multiplied all over this country. Please , instead of having foolish discussions on education, do something constructive about drugging of our children and grandchildren. If it happened to Bill Gates , I am sure there would be some action.

    February 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  6. rightospeak

    Correction -it was a school psychologist, not a psychiatrist that gave Zoloft to my grandson. That is a serious issue in our education system. He just started school and the school did him in.

    February 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • just a mom

      A teacher can not give medication to student without a parent's permission. The school may recommend it but it is the parent's choice whether or not to give it.

      February 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
      • rightospeak

        Many parents assume, as my daughter did , that the school knows what they were doing. When she realized that they were wrong ,it was too late. Later she home schooled my grandson.
        There has been a big rise in autism among schoolchildren in this country .Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield wrote a book " Callous Disregard" mentioning a connection between autism and MMR vaccines- I just stumbled on it. Why is this not discussed by the media ?The big Pharma with its big money cricified Dr. Wakefield in the UK till he lost his livelihood. I guess money and crooked politicians rule.

        February 5, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  7. High Skill Labor Secrets MS hides from Congress and the USA

    How can Microsoft claim that they can't find skilled American talent when they bypass the most qualified, proven US talent possible for Microsoft jobs, their own US employees?

    Gates and MS fail to consider their own American employees, its little wonder why they fail to consider US students and disparage US educators and our system. A paradox, if the US system is so bad, they why are so many foreign students taking seats away from Americans in our colleges?

    Why won’t consider its own workforce FIRST, including the 5,000 highly skilled laid off Americans to make room for 5,000++ foreign citizens, BEFORE recruiting offshore to hire even more visa workers – and visa students – to fill more US jobs in the USA?

    What shortage? In 2009 (and beyond) Microsoft replaced highly skilled, educated, experienced and talented American tech talent with proven Microsoft success, including deep knowledge of MS technologies, culture, customers, partners – and a highly prized skill, the ability to navigate the Microsoft maze to get the job done – something only learned on the job at Microsoft.

    Who's highly skilled? American students? American high tech talent? Nope.. in MS eyes.. Otherwise, why did MS replace Americans with foreign citizens new to the USA who barely know where to find the restroom let alone have the skill, experience, and know-how to deliver quality products that delight customers?

    The answer is simple. They don't want to. And Gates and Abramoff "influenced" the law, they don't need to. Microsoft egregious actions are 100% legal.

    On the record, testimony about the facts...

    "Here is what the Labor Department says about the current law: "H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of a foreign worker".

    "Is that what we had in mind with H-1B visas? That certainly wasn't the way it was explained to me. In fact, under current law, only employers who employ H-1B visa holders as a large percentage of their U.S. workforce are required to attempt to recruit American workers before bringing in foreign workers."

    Statement of Senator Dick Durbin on the Senate Floor

    The H-1B and L-1 Visa Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 2007 May 8, 2007

    February 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  8. MW

    I just watched Bill Gates on GPS and I am now far more understanding of my role as a teacher. Get them engaged. What a concept. What greatness of thought. Did anyone happen to catch the fidgety nature of the drop out when he was asked the great and difficult question of what makes a good teacher? Get them engaged was the response. No substance, no depth, no connection to prior information, I'd give him a low grade, but that would probably be my fault...However, I will take heed to the education guru of our time and get them engaged. First, I will have to separate my students from the distractions created by Gates and company. The computer and all its ancillary devices. That e-lectronic e-mail, the cell phones, the games, the instant messaging, the texting. These are what students are engaged in because they have a much higher immediate reward for students with the focus of being popular or more importantly not being embarassed by other students. Need to be up on the latest gossip and social information. Once I do that, I'll then deal with the anger of parents and friends who can't contact their students during this engagement time. After that, we'll work on actually remembering something outside the hard drives of the computers. Oh wait, time can be saved here as students have access to all the worlds knowledge with a few key strokes that don't even require them to spell correctly. Why should they memorize and remeber something they don't have to? It might take up brain computing space that will cause them to forget that they have a dance this weekend. Far more relevant and important to their lives. I feel I was in a merketing class listening to his nonsense. Good luck all.

    February 3, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  9. kenmarchionno

    Bill Gates totally contradicted himself. First he says the best teachers engage with their students, that they read the class and make efforts to keep the students involved in the learning. Then he says he's all for online classes. Online classed do not allow for the type of engagement he's calling for. It's impossible for a teacher to read a student's engagement when all you see is a screen name. This is a basic flaw in Gates' argument and Fareed didn't call him on it.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  10. Peter Brain

    I caught part of Bill Gate's interview with Mr. Zakaria. It astounds me that someone of his supposed intelligence can have a vision of a good university based on how much money their graduates earned, rather than working towards a challenging and fulfilling life. The money is a by-product of success and not a worthy goal or gauge of success in itself. The world is turning even advanced and university degree into a commodity, and the system will never accommodate making everyone a major financial success. A pyramid like structure is just part of the system that may be effected by a good economic system, but will not be eliminated. Mr. Gates proposition therefore shows his lack of intelligence in areas out of his realm of expertise. And all this talk of vouchers and charter schools and making teachers better is useless, unless we also focus on how to make better parents and healthy family environments. In my view the growing excesses of the private market and immature/unsettled parents are far more responsible for a poor education than are teachers. Look at Walmart pulling parents away from their families on American thanksgiving now - once considered a key family time to Americans - and now both parent working, both parents potentially insecure about their job and family. In this environment with lack of parental attention and unwillingness of parents, government and corporations to take any responsibility for the poor learning environment in schools - versus just looking for a scapegoat in teachers - how can a real, comprehensive and balanced solution be found. By the way, I am not a teacher (just for those who always look for scapegoats and conspiracy theories). There is enough blame to go around in all quarters of America for our poor educational results, and until we stop trying to find blame in one area such as teachers the problem will linger.

    February 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  11. Kaz

    Bill Gates used a common, simple, but false paradigm to explain teaching and education. He sees it through the lens of business and manufacturing, which is understandable considering his background and emotional makeup. Mr. Zakaria used the pronoun "it" to referred to a teacher. His questions never challenge Gates' assumptions. There was little substantive discussion of how to improve teacher education, provide coaching for teachers, guarantee all classrooms have necessary supplies. Students are not widgets. Teachers are not robots.(They do, however, make good scapegoats.) This segment showed shallow, shoddy journalism. I give it a D.

    February 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  12. JAL

    Why does my Windows 8 laptop think it is a tablet?

    February 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  13. j. von hettlingen

    When it comes to university level, many professors are intellectual, but they aren't always good teachers. A student has to know how to get the best out of these lecturers.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:33 am |
  14. Lisa

    So, basically, Gates has no idea what makes a good teacher. It's "interactive" and "performance oriented," with "a range of capabilities." Great buzzwords, but they don't really mean anything useful. Gates is not an educator and he's not an expert on education. If he were not so rich, CNN wouldn't imagine giving him a platform for this drivel.

    February 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  15. andrew fortuin

    teachers in our area are drug addicts alcoholics,child molesters. somebody please do somethig what more can i say

    February 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
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  17. Morgan

    People need to focus less on improving baseball skills and more on how to shape teachers into being great teachers. I agree that the best type of teacher is one who gets involved and engages with the students. If teachers are told that this is a good thing, then hopefully it will motivate them to do it.

    April 17, 2013 at 12:56 am |
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