I’m so glad I finally have an excuse to blog about this fascinating piece by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker about teacher hiring and quality. The story I wrote yesterday about teacher evaluation on San Diego Unified touches on some of the larger points about the teaching workforce and how quality teachers are identified.
Even if the football metaphors make your eyes glaze over (I speak only for myself here) the overall argument is fascinating. He starts off by illustrating how difficult it is for professional football scouts to determine which college quarterbacks will make good pros.
Here is a tasty excerpt:
This is the quarterback problem. There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they’ll do once they’re hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that? In recent years, a number of fields have begun to wrestle with this problem, but none with such profound social consequences as the profession of teaching.
And if you really want to go deeper, here is more analysis by two brothers, one an education expert, the other a professional football coach, on Eduwonk — a blog written by Andrew Rotherham of Education Sector. (His co-director Thomas Toch had some interesting comments in my story and an analysis of his own.)