Friday, March 11, 2011

Rethinking the Structure of Education - Kahn Academy

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I am so happy I stumbled across this video on Ted about the Khan Academy.  Their goal is to change education as we know it.  I'm sure that anyone who has gone to school has thought to themselves at one time or another, "This system sucks", or "This doesn't seem right".  I know I have.  Everything about it seems backwards.  From grade school to University level.  I remember feeling like the set up was not allowing me to maximize my potential.  I remember times when I feelt like I hadn't really grasped a concept yet, but no matter...time to move to the next subject or the next chapter.  In essence this led me to develop excellent bullshitting skills.  If you can't understand it in the given amount of time, memorize some key concepts and bullshit your way through - get that 60% forget about it and move on. Or worse, get a 90% and congratulate yourself for pulling a fast one.  I really feel because of this I suffer from the "swiss cheese" syndrome (watch the video to know what I mean).  Another issue is the competition factor.  You want to be the best, you want the highest grades, you need that diploma, and you'll do anything to get them because of the significance this holds for your future.  Even though it may mean you have to cheat, or bullshit, which is in fact cheating yourself.  Therefore, you learn to store masses amounts of info in your short term memory before the test or the exam.  Two weeks later, it's gone.  What good is that in the long run?  Learning should be fun and something that we value and accumulate over time. It should be something we genuinely want - not a chore we have to do with the only intent to get ahead so that we may achieve success and wealth.  We should want to get ahead of ourselves, not of others.  "Personal competition" is not encouraged in the current system.  Of course, in some instances, the competition and the pressure and the lack of human interaction in the classroom (hence, the feeling of lack of support) gets too great.  If you can't keep up, you fall behind, get labeled as a failure and it's a downward spiral from there. It takes an enormous amount of energy to get out of that, if you do at all.

The Kahn Academy is suggesting a reversal in the classroom.  Watch the lectures online at home and do your homework in the classroom, with real help from your teachers and peers.  What this is actually doing is using technology (which we think of as a buzz killer for human interaction) and using it to create a more human experience in the classroom.  So instead of your teacher giving a lecture and sending you home with homework and problems you have to figure out on your own, the teacher can actually be there to reinforce what you learn and give you their attention.  If you want a teacher's attention these days, you have to stay after class or make an appointment during office hours.  Essentially you are being punished for wanting to actually learn.  Lazy teachers beware.  This might not be the right job for you in the near future (hopefully).

I encourage you to watch this video and let me know what you think.  Do you think this is a feasable idea?  Could it actually work on a large scale?

I wish I knew about the Khan Academy when I needed some biology refreshment/reinforcement in University!



  1. I agry at 150% with Salmankhan. That is the way to get everybody invole to help each-other world wise in all level.There is always one generation that as to implant changes and sometime to shake the world with a new concept,you are the one. Good luck!!!!!!

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