Letters to The Economist

[#8473, 15 April 2006]

    Charlemagne observes that teachers are the key to Finland's successful education system (March 25th). This still leaves a question: what makes a good teacher? When I was 15, I conducted a survey in my school. I first asked students to rank their teachers and then asked teachers to describe what they thought made a good teacher. The teachers whom the students ranked best said that if students wanted to learn, they would learn, and if they didn't, they wouldn't. The teacher whom the students ranked worst had a very elaborate theory as to what a teacher should and should not do in order to be successful. The correlation between how much responsibility the students bore for their grades (according to the teachers) and how good the teachers were (according to the students) was almost perfect.

[#8148, 04 December 1999]

    One approach that might be worth considering for Europe's new army (“The eu turns its attention from ploughshares to swords”, November 20th) is to make the army solely a peacekeeping force. Such a force would be very valuable to both Europe and the world. Britain, Germany, etc could thus happily contribute. The force would probably make France happy: it might reasonably be largely independent of nato, and potentially it could grow into something much bigger if it demonstrated skill in peacekeeping. It should also make neutral eu countries happy: they could contribute while remaining neutral.
    Additionally, its existence would probably make America happy: the force would not compete with nato, and it would mean that American troops were less likely to be involved in peacekeeping (which the Pentagon believes dulls combat soldiers' fighting edge and for which Congress can lack enthusiasm).

[#7923, 15 July 1995]

    What I do not understand is why there is so much vexation over the pay of top executives, when top footballers seem to earn far more. Which of the two makes the greatest contribution to our society?

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