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The One World School House
The old classroom model doesn't fit our changing needs. It's a fundamentally passive way of learning, while the world requires active processing of information.
The old model is based on pushing students together in age-group batches with one-pace-suits-all curricula and hoping they pick up something along the way.
But improvements usually top-down govt imposed policies that are as likely to harm as to help.
America will still lead economically, despite its failing educational system, because of its unique combination of creativity, entrepreneurship, and capital.
The Information Revn means that creativity and analytical thinking are no longer luxuries but survival skills.
Technology can now free education from industrial limitations - make it portable, flexible, and personal.
Khan born in New Orleans Louisiana to Bangladeshi parents. Much of his extended family had moved there because Louisiana is as close to Asia as you can get - had spicy food, humidity, giant cockroaches and a corrupt govt.
Education is an art as much as a science - we've all met lecturers who knew their subject matter cold, but were hopeless at sharing their knowledge.
Problem with conventional classroom is that lessons are always sequential - if you miss a lesson, or don't understand it first time through, you can't go back. The class has moved on; there's a schedule to keep to.
He began posting videos so that he could give long-distance coaching to a cousin in New Jersey. When he started posting videos to YouTube, there was a 10 minute max. But this turned out to be the optimum lesson length for pupil concentration. (Yet school lectures and lessons typically 50 -60 minutes.)
School lessons occur in subject silos, where there should be far more cross-pollination and links between subjects. The piecemeal approach makes it harder for students to see relationships and connections between concepts. Understanding is fundamental.
What should a passing grade be? We regard 70 or 75 as a good, acceptable mark. But this is disastrous in maths. Concepts build on one another. Algebra requires aruthmetic. Trig needs geometry. A shaky understanding of one will lead to complete bewilderment later on. If we set a pass mark at 75 we are cheating the students, bc we're telling them that they have learned something when they really haven't.
If someone gets 95/100, they should be given a review of the 5% they got wrong. Then retested, and if they don't get 100, the process should be repeated. Students often find calculus hard, not bc it is intrinsically difficult, but bc it is a synthesis of what has gone before - it assumes mastery of algebra and trigonometry. Calculus allows you to solve problems that are beyond the reach of more elementary forms of math, but you need to understand the elementary concepts before you can use the advanced ones.
Khan decided, quite intuitively, to define 100% understanding as being able to solve 10 consecutive problems on a given topic. Took the guess work and plug-in-a-memorised formula. Recorded in a spreadsheet type format, with each student rep by a row, and each concept as a column. In each cell, software recorded how many problems student answered and how many right. That allowed teacher to quickly ID where each pupil was at, and either help student themselves, or put two students together to work on a sticking point.
Khan was earning good money working for a hedge fund, but decided to take a year off and see if he could make Khan Academy work as a not-for-profit. Lot of trouble getting charities willing to help fund it, and came close to losing hope and going back to paid employment. Then got a letter of appreciation from a woman who included a check for $10,000. He wrote back thanking her, and she suggested lunch, where she asked how he was supporting his family. "I'm not, we're living off my savings" trying not to sound too desperate. She just nodded, and rode off on her bicycle. About twenty minutes later he got a text saying You need to support yourself. I am sending a check for $100,000 right now.(Did I mention it was Ann Doerr, wife of venture capitalist John Doerr.)
From there, things started to get surreal. Two months later he was teaching at a summer camp when got a series of texts from Ann. At Aspen ...big audience. Bill gates on stage, talking about you. A week later got a call from Bill Gates staff asking him to come to Seattle to meet him and to see how he could support the Khan Academy. Gates listened to him explain what he was doing, asked a few questions then said simply "This is great."
Gates Foundation funded KA for $1.5 million to rent proper office space and hire a time of 5 people. They later gave another $4 mill to support other projects. And Google added another $2 mill to build out its library and to translate into the ten most spoken world languages.
Difference between coaches and teachers. Kids see coaches as allies - there to bring out the best of their abilities. But teachers are adversaries - they test and fail kids all the time.
Suggests need to abandon summer vacation. An anachronism from time when families needed labour to bring in the harvest. But the evidence is that the vacation isn't just a pause in education; it's that the kids immediately start 'unlearning'. But if you offer lessons via KA you can take holidays whenever it suits you.
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